August 2017 - Cerro Catedral with SASS Argentina

Discussion in 'Trip Reports' started by SkiFiore, Sep 2, 2017.

  1. SkiFiore

    SkiFiore Is it winter yet? Skier

    Joined:
    Dec 25, 2016
    Posts:
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    Location:
    Denver
    I arrived home just under a week ago after an incredible week skiing in Cerro Catedral near Bariloche, Patagonia, Argentina. I capped off the trip with a few days in Buenos Aires. Here are some highlights from the trip.

    I took off from Denver to Atlanta on a Friday afternoon and connected through Buenos Aires. There a SASS contact was at the airport to pick us up and help us make the transfer to the smaller domestic airport. We bought bus tickets and set off across town. At the domestic airport it was a bit hectic with very long check in lines, but all seemed well as we filed into the oversize baggage line. On to security, another long line with many Argentines saying "permiso" or excuse me to allow them to pass as the line was so long I don't know how anyone would make their flight. Much to our chagrin ski boots were not allowed on board as a carry on....which forced me and another SASS traveler to frantically run down stairs have our boots wrapped in shrink wrap and checked. We then desperately got to the gate in time only to find....our flight wasn't boarding on time. Some added stress but everything worked out fine. Perfect time to have a beer.

    At the Bariloche airport SASS was there to greet us and set us up with transport. The drive from the airport to Cerro Catedral took 30-40 minutes. At SoulMax / Base 41 we were greeted with tea time and our room assignments. Tea time should not be understated. Everyday at 4:45 we had fresh coffee and different types of warm pastries available accompanied with jam and dulce de leche spread. Literally made in the attached kitchen by locals. Why didn't I take a photo of these pastries?

    That evening we had dinner at the lodge and briefed on avalanche rescue, conditions, etc. and generally how each day would run. the first day "camp" was to drill avy rescue and generally get a feel for everyone's ability level. We had a beautiful day of sun, ducking into trees, off piste all over the mountain. Each day we'd have a new guide and groups. I generally had the same people in my group, which worked out wonderfully. After group assignments we headed to what I take is a Catedral institution, Tage. Here we'd grab food and snacks for the day. We didn't stop once during the week for a traditional lunch on mountain. Instead we'd ski as much as possible and eat in the lift line, after a skin etc. I think this is somewhat unusual and mainly driven by lift lines. The next four days would be full of wind, limited visibility and tons of new snow! Day 2 we took the lifts as high as we could go slightly above mid mountain with the intent to skin to the top. However, our guide had a binding problem (kingpin bindings incorrectly installed). The heel piece looked as if it would be ripped off. The guide couldn't ski with this binding problem and we attempted to skin higher on our own. The wind was quite strong and made the skinning not very fun. After 15 minutes or so we gave up and just skied down.

    The following days we skied the trees, including a trek up to an area known as the Palmero trees. Another windy venture. Here's a good idea of what it was like. However, the reward was pretty sweet. One thing to note here is this was not Colorado blower pow. It was rather heavy and wet and there was a lot of it. If you didn't keep your momentum you'd literally get stuck in it. This run required knowing the exit well. Towards the end it was mostly side slipping to get out around creeks, gullies, infamous bamboo bushes, and an avy slide path. We were then able to join up a cat track back to the resort. This journey took up most of our day, but was a good experience. During the wind effected days this really limited lift capacity and would cause long lines. Fortunately, the good runs were not getting skied out as most locals stuck to the on piste terrain.

    On the last day of skiing, Friday, the skies had finally relented and we headed straight toward the Laguna bowl just outside the ski area. It was our guide's last day of skiing as well so he focused on making the most runs with great snow. We were not dissapointed with the snow, runs, views, everything. To get back to this area we boot packed about 20 minutes from the top of the Del Bosque chair. We skied a run down to the covered lake below, skinned back up for another run and then did this process once more for a total of 4 amazing runs in Laguna. The coverage you see in the photos is some of the best they've had in 7 years.

    If you're thinking about going to Catedral or Patagonia for a summer ski session I'd highly recommend SASS, not only do they take care of lodging, transport, meals, etc. they have incredible guides with experience in Catedral. Even within the resort I was very happy to have a guide. This is not the US where things are well marked, roped off, closed etc. There lots of areas with hidden creeks and terrain traps in bounds. They also know where the best snow is.

    Outside of the ski experience, I made a few trips out to a steakhouse, brewery tour, and an excellent restaurant on the lake. Most of these were organized by SASS or facilitated by other travelers. At the lodge we had a traditional asado and while we waited for the meal a "Beacons and Beers" tournament. Of course this competition included head to head timed beacon searches after downing a beer, but also a style award for the beer drinking. Across from the lodge we had a watering hole, Jackson's, with local beer and apres snacks like Argentina nachos and pappas frites. I got to see Bariloche briefly on my last day heading out, I would have like to see the town a little more, but was satisfied I got to take a few photos and of course buy chocolate. All in all an incredible trip.

    After Bariloche I spent a few days in BA and was very glad I did. It was a little of a culture shock coming from the mountains. In BA I hung out in the Palermo neighborhood, went to two art museums, San Telmo market, the Recoleta cemetey, a graffiti tour, and of course one more steak dinner before I took off. Here are a few more photos.

    If you'd like to see more of the photos and video from my trip take a look at my instagram (much easier than uploading to the thread). https://www.instagram.com/sarinacfiore/
     

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    Ron, karlo, luliski and 3 others like this.
  2. Mothertucker

    Mothertucker Sweep Dodger Skier

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    Location:
    Desolation Row
    Thanks, that was awesome!
     
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  3. Mendieta

    Mendieta Master of Snowplow Moderator

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    Aug 17, 2016
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    SF Bay Area, CA, USA
    Ay, Fiore, that's how I wish I could spend my summers! The pow picture's are beautiful, and the foggy picture is sublime!

    [​IMG]
     
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  4. SkiFiore

    SkiFiore Is it winter yet? Skier

    Joined:
    Dec 25, 2016
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    Location:
    Denver
    Thank you for the kind words. This is straight up wind at the top of the mountain, which required some interesting side slipping, avoiding cornices, etc. You can't even see the guide below, which just so happened to be Piers Solomon.
     
  5. karlo

    karlo Putting on skis Skier

    Joined:
    May 11, 2017
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    187
    I agree. That is an awesome photo
     
  6. dbostedo

    dbostedo Asst. Gathermeister--Utah Team Gathermeister

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    Feb 9, 2016
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    Location:
    Northern Virginia, USA
    Great pics in there... nice report!
     
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