Day 6 – September 2
Sidewalk under thick wet slush. Winter Wonderland for all the tourists in San Martin de Los Andes. Many were still sleeping when I left, I took a cab in order to catch the early bus (7:45am) out toward Bariloche.
This trip took sidetrip to Villa La Angostura, the 2 hour sidetrip/detour road was only 20km away from Bariloche when it took the road to Villa. So instead of the normal 4 hours, this trip took 6. However I wanted to be on this bus, the other buses were in mid-afternoon and didn’t arrive in Bari before 6pm, which was only 30 minutes before the last bus to Esquel. I wanted to take fully advantage of this non-skiing/travel day to get as many kilometers out of it.
The scenery along Ruta 40 was pretty spectacular. Dry plains, river canyon, rock cliffs and peaks. Once passed the 20km from Bariloche sign, the bus changed roads and headed toward Villa La Angostura. Road runs along the north side of Nahuel Huapi lake, beautiful snowcover peaks on each side of the lake. Bariloche is on the south shore of the lake.
I eventually made it to the Bariloche bus station, I wanted to head to Esquel, however I wasn’t sure what was happening at the ski area. Surf the net at the bus station, nothing on their website. Were they open? I know that Catedral was closed yesterday with no power with the wet snow that fell around town. Similar story in San Martin, which on and off power. Got on the bus at 3:15pm for a 5 hour bus ride.
The scenery was very different on this portion of the trip, however it wasn’t less spectacular. Forest, lakes, mountains and glaciers, landscapes looked somewhat like Banff National Park. Watched the on-bus movie and took a nap after sunset. Woke up in what looked like a snow cover moon surface, it was surreal. Bus arrived in Esquel passed 8pm, it was dark. Esquel isn’t a tourist town and is very different. No snow on the streets, but much colder. This place is off the beaten path.
Connections between buses aren’t always easy. So I decided to use the whole day to travel. From San Martin (A) to Villa La Angostura (B) then Bariloche (C). Change bus in Bariloche for Esquel (D). Pretty much left by taxi at 6am and got at the Hostel in Esquel at 8-9pm.
Day 7: September 3, skiing at La Hoya
I was getting ready to leave with the organized transport at 9:30, however just before 9, an Argentinian told me that he had a spot in his truck if I wanted to hop in. Hell, yeah!!!
This Argentinian lived in El Bolson and was the friend of a group of French skiers. La Hoya is 15 km out of town up a winding road up to the base at 1341m. There is minimal lodging at the base and is surrounded by mountain walls. We get on the lift and slowly climb out of the valley. I :drool: at the lines on that face on the left side of the chair. As we get out on that valley, we’re out of the shade and a whole alpine terrain appears in front of my eyes. Next chair up, It’s a beautiful bluebird day and it’s …trackless !!! :drool:
Up a poma lift on the left side of the terrain, few lifts and a traverse into a powder field. You can traverse and choose your line, very few tracks. This is background, this is in-bounds. Hard to say how much new snow there is, 1, 2 feet. more??? The snow isn’t heavy and is pretty cold.
\:D/ \:D/ \:D/
Trackless lap down all the way to the midstation chair. Back up the chair, instead of taking the poma lift, the upper chair is running and we hopped on it. Much of the same. We’re going small laps on that upper chair. The terrain that we’re skiing isn’t real steep, but we’re taking advantage of the trackless snow. The steeper lines are more out of the way.
I was ridding the chair with Martin, the Argentinian, he was saying he couldn’t believe how fast the place was being tracked up. We’ll, I told him, you do the math, we were 5 in our group and we had probably just finished our 8 run on this lift, that 40 different lines in trackless powder. Most of this tracking, was done by US!!!
In afternoon, the French and their friend got their sails in the truck… It’s called Speedriding. The Argentinian was friend with the ski patrol and got the green light to do their thing.
As they flew off, I skied elsewhere and had lunch. Did I mentioned that I was about to eat breakfast when I was offered a ride this morning. I wanted to eat at the mountain, but once I saw the conditions, I said that I didn’t need to eat … it was that good. I couldn’t ski all the way down, they had closed down the bottom run due to grooming. 🙄 Had to eat at the midstation cafeteria. One plate of spaghetti? 15 pesos or $5 US!!! 😯 😯 😯 That bottom run was closed for a few hours, I guess this is SA after all.
At the end of the day, we took a few extra French skiers in the back of the truck. There are definitely a lot of French skiers in this part of the Andes.
Coming back tomorrow, I bought a 2 day ticket for 60 pesos.
To be continued…
Ski map for La Hoya (source: Nevasport)
So that night I was trying to figure out the logistics of getting back to Bariloche without missing a day due to travel. I found out that the last bus out of Esquel was at 4pm, so I needed to stop skiing early, get back to the Hostel to get my stuff then head for the bus station. At the small party that night, I found out that they was one cab driver and he said that he had to bring someone at the mountain for 1:30pm. So we set up a pickup time, all was set. Another French group arrived that night, a bunch of touring freeskiers.
Day 8 – skiing for a second day in a row!!!
That morning as I find myself waiting outside, no surprise last minute departure for me this morning. I was ready. Unfortunately that wabn’t the case for everyone here today. 🙄 While I was waiting the Argentinian friend mentioned that sometimes there is volcanic dust on the cars in town. Previous day we had climb behind the top chair to see the view and get the look at the Chaiten volcano in Chile. You couldn’t really see the volcano, just the massive cloud of smoke. The volcano is 100km directly West from Esquel.
All of a sudden, his truck isn’t starting. He opens his hood and remove his carburetor. 😯 😯 😯 #-o As he does this, the ski transfer arrives and leaves. :-” I’m losing patience, I have to leave early and we are not leaving. Eventually the trucks starts. Part of the group is ready, but someone is missing something. I asked if yesterday was an accident the fact that we left so early? I was told it’s always very complicated. #-o
Oh shit, someone has to stop at a ski shop place to get a pair of skis. Yes, the guide from speedriding broke one of his skis yesterday after flying off the chutes above the base and landed hard on some snow covered rocks. On their last run, two from the group took off for some serious jumping. 😮
Okay, we are ready? Leaving toward the mountain, oops someone forgot the picnic, back to the Hostel. The girl among our group needed to go to the washroom and one of the guys wanted to say “Hi” to the cute Hostel hostess. [-X So they goes the early start!!! 👿
We arrived at the base and see Freeskiers arrived at the base of the chair, they had just skied the chutes above the lift. Two from our group decided to follow them. First chair out of the base, second chair from the mid, poma and then a long high speed traverse above the chutes. Found one chute that hadn’t been skied, speed and deep. \:D/ Oh yeah!!! The snow at the exit of the chutes was rougher, especially if you’re flying at warp speed like the Big mountain skiers in our group. 😮
So, let’s do that again. This time we climb along the ridge. One of the guy that speedrode the chutes yesterday warns people not to follow his tracks or they find themselves over a 40m cliff. 😮 Good to know, especially for the hot shots in our group. 8-[
Nice powder turns again then I hit huge buried rock and flip over above a small hourglass canyon. 😕 I’m okay, but I’m not looking at my ski. Not now.
Third ride up and speaking to one of the guys. Mentioned that he’s on a month streak, this was month 22 for him. However he got a serious injury (a few cracks and broken ribs) this season while Big mountain skiing, especially that he’s on the Freeskiing tour. He’s been a few times to Canada and has to bunch of good friend in Quebec, most of them at in Whistler now. Yep, I know a few people that went West in their younger days, some even stayed. Some from our group joined his friend and was going sailing/speedriding. I headed toward the Chutes with the French team, but I wasn’t going to climb with them, I was going to do this quick as it was getting late.
Finally, I took the lifts again to say goodbye and say thanks to the group I skied with yesterday. Arnaud from speedriding was showing people own to speedride.
It was a bit past 1:30pm and about to ski down to the base. Damn, that ski trail is cerrado again. #-o The only official way on-piste was to download on that slow chair. The trail was closed for maybe 3 hours yesterday for grooming. Whatever, TISA at work again. I was told by the French that they was away around the trail behind the chalet, they had to go through there yesterday to get the sails. It was a small and somewhat steep river bend canyon, everything was fine until I hit the flats. All of sudden I hit a rock and I crash hard sideways. Those crashes are the ones that you lease expect and that feel the worst. It was like a good body slam.
Got at the cab, the driver was having a hard time. He had to stop along the switchback to throw up!!! 😯 😯 😯 😀 That was a first for me. I’ve ridden cab where a friend had to head out to throw up, but never the driver.
Back on the bus at 4pm, arrived in Bariloche at 8:30ish.
Gang from Speedriding School
Monday Mad Addict’s Attic :
La Hoya – Centro de actividades de montaña
Originally posted on Wed Sep 17, 2008 12:09 pm on firsttracksonline