There’s no place on earth as beautiful yet simultaneously so hostile as the remote area at the tip of South America, Patagonia. In the blink of an eye the weather can change, with only minutes between bluebird and whiteout. However, those patient enough to wait for this hot-tempered diva to calm down will be rewarded with the finest powder, virgin lines and steep couloirs. Our team rider Martin ‘Seili’ Seiler is one such man.
Season: Jul until Oct (best conditions from mid-Aug until mid-Sep)
Resorts: Caviahue, Cerro Chapelco, Cerro Bayo, Cerro Catedral, Perito Moreno, La Hoya.
How to get there: Daily flights from Buenos Aires to Bariloche, 20 km from Cerro Catedral. From here you can reach all other resorts easily with a rental car or bus.
Currency: Argentine peso (€1 = around 11 ARS)
Prices: Food and transport are pretty cheap; a night in a hostel costs around €10, a ski ticket around €36.
“The guy from ‘Into the Wild’ would die on his first day in Patagonia” say the locals. This area of the Andes, between Chile and Argentina, is the epitome of wild as I found out during my splitboard trip last summer – with temperatures dropping as low as -30, howling winds and heavy snowfalls. However, when the wind died and the clouds disappeared revealing sparkling, fresh powder Patagonia unfolded its untouched beauty and wilderness. It was exactly these moments that made the long trip to the Southern hemisphere so worthwhile.
The locals call this line ‘Zebra’, due to the many white couloirs and black rock spines. From our refuge El-Frey it took us two hours to hike with splitboards, cross a ridge and climb to reach the drop-ins of the couloirs. The rough weather in Patagonia didn’t make it easy; twice we had to turn back at the drop-in and climb back down after strong wind and fog replaced the morning sunshine. But the day this picture was shot everything worked out perfectly and we ripped the narrow Zebra couloirs. The fickle conditions made the riding here a very special experience.
In Bariloche we discovered a Swiss colony, founded in the 19th century by immigrants from Switzerland.
In the picture, above my head, you can see the emblem of my home canton, Wallis. I didn’t try the cheese fondue or other Swiss dishes as I fear these guys have been away from home too long, but there’s nothing more delicious in Argentina than ‘Asados’ (a special kind of BBQ) of fresh local meat.
On this day we enjoyed fresh powder and spray after spray in front of a stunning backdrop, until strong winds pushed in the clouds in the afternoon; we surrendered and went fly-fishing on the lake in the background. This was Patagonia at it’s best! If I learnt one thing here, it was that when it comes to weather conditions you have to be flexible.
Our filmer Grego Campi, in his self-made snow cave, which protected him from the howling winds while he waited for us to get to the start of our line.
Home Sweet Home: our refuge El–Frey (2500 meters above sea level) that provided us with countless faces and lines, set on fire by the evening sun, as in this picture.
The crew (Thomas Orol, Yago Najda, filmer and photographer Grego Campi, Martin Seiler) checking a line from the El-Frey refuge. In the background on the left-hand side you can see the Cerro Catedral.