August 08, 2004


In Salta, I bid adieu to my travelling partners from most of the summer and bolted south for Mendoza, where I met up with my friend Frank from Toronto. Mendoza is a beautiful city. It actually reminded me somewhat of Winnipeg my hometown, of all places, with its wide tree-lined streets, the overhanging branches bare in the dead of winter. Except, of course, the dead of winter was still 15 degrees above. Sidewalk cafes on pedestrian streets added a dash of Europe to the mix. Overall quite pleasant.

It was nice enough that we decided to stick around for all of 6 hours. We both had an agenda in Argentina - we wanted to hit the south American slopes for some skiing, or in Frank´s case snowboarding - so we caught a bus straight out to Malargüe that afternoon.

Forty-five minutes outside of Malarüe you find Las Leñas, world-reknowned as THE place to ski in the Southern Hemisphere. I've dreamed of going there for years. Unfortunately, however, the snow wasn't very good, and having to commute from Malargüe in the morning meant only having about 6 hours on the hill. Scratch another hour fighting the equipment rental lines. Of course the rental equipment wasn't very good either, and in the end I only ended up skiing one day, just to check out what it was like. I can see the potential though - with my own equipment, accomodation on the hill, and good snow, a day of hiking that mountain would be incredible. The lines within easy reach are pretty nuts.

Frank boarded a second day, and then we caught a bus south in search of better snow. It looked like a storm was moving up from Patagonia, so we went to Bariloche, a resort town in Argentina's Lake District, on Patagonia's northern edges.

Bariloche is a beautiful place. It's a trendy resort town filled with tourists, but most of the tourists are Argentinian, which prevents the town from losing its authenticity. It reminds me of a larger but more down-to-earth version of Whistler or Banff. The city is situated on the shores of a beautiful mountain lake surrounded by snow-capped peaks.

Just outside of Bariloche is Cerro Catedral, Bariloche's ski hill. Right away things were better than at Las Leñas. Somehow I stumbled across what are probably the only pair of rental Bandit XX's in all of South America. Although the lower third of the mountain had no snow at all (they seem to be suffering from the same global warming that the hills in BC are), we spent our time hiking the peak and ripping lines through untouched powder. It was pretty sweet - especially for August 1st :)

Three days of skiing, a solid day of biking and a few days of relaxing later, I said goodbye to Frank and caught a bus to Santiago, Chile, my final destination before flying back to Canada. Only a few days to go...

Posted by major at 08:46 PM | Comments (0)