Las Lenas, Sept. 3-9

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Las Lenas, Sept. 3-9

Postby Tony Crocker » Sun Sep 04, 2005 2:25 pm

Murphy made an appearance in the Southern Hemisphere too.

The 39-inch storm last week buried the Marte lift (reputedly one tower completely) and they have made little effort to dig it out with another substantial storm predicted for Monday and Tuesday. Losing Marte takes out the top 2,000 vertical and well over half of normally accessible terrain. However, what's left is about the size of the best NZ South Island areas (Mt. Hutt and Treble Cone) and there's about 5 times as much snowpack as I saw in NZ in 1982 and 1997. So lines are filled in (like Mammoth and Snowbird this year) and there will be some amazing terrain if we ever get up top. Last week's Extremely Canadian top group made the 4-hour hike up to the top of Marte. FYI I'm in the 3rd group out of 4 and grateful to be there after yesterday's mishap.

The other issue was my decision not to bring our own gear. The rental shop had a very limited selection of fats or midfats in appropriate sizes and I would up with a 186 cm Salomon Supermountain (rental gear is generally top line skis of 3-4 years ago). I went out for a few runs yesterday afternoon and was a total basket case on those skis. WAY too long for me; Garry Klassen had the same comment at Targhee in 2001. On my sole off-piste venture the gradual slope steepened slightly in flat light and I soon did a double ejection at the bottom of a gully and unfortunately landed on my ski with left knee and left thumb.

Despite a fair amount of pain last night, bruises should not affect function, so I decided to give it a try with the Extremely Canadian guides today, after exchanging skis. Today I had a 179cm X-Scream Series and actually remembered how to ski a little. This was the acclaimed ski of a few years back and was the right length, so for groomers or good powder it's just fine. Lots of the off-piste was wind affected today, so in some cases I was working pretty hard and I should still be on a much fatter ski for the type of terrain Extremely Canadian and I want to ski here.

Most people come here just for the week (lots of repeat customers) so it's automatic to bring your own gear. Only about 10% do extra tourism like us, and have to deal with potential baggage hassles and weight limits on internal flights. Consider it a lesson learned.
Last edited by Tony Crocker on Mon Sep 05, 2005 3:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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re: Las Lenas, Sept. 3-4

Postby Patrick » Sun Sep 04, 2005 7:35 pm

For me, my ski and my boots are like the American Express card commercial... I NEVER LEAVE HOME WITHOUT THEM (If I'm planning to ski a few days regardless of the trip - should be fun next summer if we go to France :? ).

Nice to hear from Las Lenas, have fun.
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re: Las Lenas, Sept. 3-9

Postby Tony Crocker » Mon Sep 05, 2005 3:53 pm

What was that line from Young Frankenstein? "Could be worse. Could be raining." I was awakened a few times last night by the thud of slabs of snow sliding off the roof of the Escorpio Hotel. By sunrise we could hear the dripping from the roof.

Rain was very light but visibility was crap until after 4PM and many of our group didn't ski at all. I made couple of futile forays to the rental shop, hoping the adverse weather would result in someone returning fat skis of suitable length. Of course the X-Scream Series may be just fine on a lower mountain packed down by rain. I did about 4 runs on the groomed and with the pain from bruises on the wane I had no problems. I took a DVD movie break mid-morning, which was followed by the Extremely Canadian video of waist deep face shots on their trip to Niseko, Japan last January. About 2PM most of us went out for a lengthy raclette lunch.

I took a couple of runs midday on the Ciris Chair, which goes to 8,500 feet, and where it was snowing for the top 500 or so. So The steep stuff up on Marte should have gotten all snow. But right now we're having a "Whistler Sandwich": rain at the bottom and closed up top.
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Season length: 21 months, Nov. 29, 2010 - July 2, 2012
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re: Las Lenas, Sept. 3-9

Postby Tony Crocker » Tue Sep 06, 2005 9:47 pm

The situation has turned around from yesterday. We're likely done with weather for the duration of our stay, and it's warm so there is a typical spring transition situation on the lower mountain. We spent all morning on the Vulcano Chair, which goes up to 9,100 ft. Yesterday's rain line was 8,200 so our 2 warm-up cruisers were half packed powder and half frozen granular.

In late morning we traversed far skier's left to some large off-piste bowls. These had breakable crust Sunday but were more consolidated now. The upper half skied great, then a tricky transition zone with variable spring conditions below. The sun is quite intense here (latitude 35) and not a lot of what's open is direct south exposed so snow on the lower off-piste was like sunny terrain at Mammoth in late April/May or at Baldy. I can blast through that stuff pretty easily on my Chubbs, but the Extremely Canadian coach Kara reminded me to use some other techniques on the X-Screams.

At any rate all 4 groups had enjoyable ski days today, and things are looking up for the rest of the week. With the clearing weather they are finally starting to dig out Marte and the expection is that we will get to ski it for at least one day before we leave. If progress is slow Extremely Canadian may arrange for us to get a couple for runs up there via snowcat for ~$80 extra. This is an example of the premium service you get by paying for their guiding, local knowledge and connections.
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Season length: 21 months, Nov. 29, 2010 - July 2, 2012
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re: Las Lenas, Sept. 3-9

Postby Tony Crocker » Wed Sep 07, 2005 3:07 pm

Weather has been warm (60+ degrees midday) last 2 days so everything now open has spring conditions. The upper 900 vertical of Vulcano that was packed powder yesterday was bulletproof early this morning. So we cruised around in the morning, took a leisurely lunch at noon, and then boarded a snowcat for the highlight of the day. The cat drove up through some impressive scenery to 10,800 feet. We were on the opposite side of the valley from Marte, so the "Necklace Bowl" we skied is never lift accessible. It is so named for the neat row of squarish rocks nicely spaced near (but not at) the top of the bowl. Necklace is almost 3,000 vertical and since it faces NE into the blazing sun conditions are variable. Top quarter was windpacked powder, occasionally breakable, the rest springlike with varying degrees of firmness in the subsurface. With about a week of this weather it would be corn heaven.

The cat was arranged by Extremely Canadian and was only available to us after 1:15 as it was probably being used to ferry workers digging out Marte. So we got one run and the top 2 groups (including Adam) didn't get their ride for over an hour later. Therefore they went the other way and skied south-facing Las Vegas Bowl, closer to Marte. This was a steeper bowl with a dry Mammoth wind-blown chalk-like surface, great skiing where it was smooth but tricky where there were irregularities in the snow.

Rumors are we will finally get Marte tomorrow. I hope so, because now unsettled weather is predicted for our last day Friday. I have made a slight improvement in skis to the Salomon 1080, which is about 5cm. wider undefoot than the X-Scream though still much narrower than a fat ski that I would prefer.
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Season length: 21 months, Nov. 29, 2010 - July 2, 2012
Days in one year: 80 from Nov. 29, 2010 - Nov. 17, 2011
Season vertical: 1,610K in 2016-17
Season powder: 291K in 2011-12
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re: Las Lenas, Sept. 3-9

Postby Tony Crocker » Thu Sep 08, 2005 5:24 pm

We finally got Marte today :D . If Las Lenas without Marte is Treble Cone, with Marte it's at least Grands-Montets. For those of you who have not skied outside North America, take Squaw Valley (similar topography and steepness), add another 1,000 vertical, then (for you Alta/Mad River low-skier-density fanatics) service the top of the mountain with only a conventional double chair. FYI Marte's lift line averaged 10 minutes today and maxed at 15. That's another reason Extremely Canadian likes to come here late in the season.

With the variable weather plus wind of the past few days there was no powder. But the east facing steeps dropping back toward the resort already have pretty good mid-morning corn. First run Mercurio dropped 2,000 vertical from the top of Marte to the previous high lift served point at top of Vulcano. We next arrived at top of Marte about 11AM and skied Paradiso, which drops 3,900 vertical to the valley floor. Well over half of this was timed perfectly for corn snow. Meanwhile Adam's group was skiing Eduardo's, which is Las Lenas' version of Big Sky's Big Couloir except that it's twice the vertical.

Marte has a couple of cruisers, and after lunch our "lower" group skied one of those with a detour to an open east-facing bowl. Next 2 runs were in the wide chute near the Marte liftline. This had Mammoth-style dry chalk: think Paranoid's consistent snow and pitch, but for 2,700 vertical. By the time we got up there again, it was after 4:30, clouding over some, and we skied the groomed back to the base.

Today reminded me of the comment one of the NASJA writers made after our day skiing Grands-Montets: "If you throw out the big powder days, today was a Top 5 ski experience." Today was a bit more exciting and exhausting for me than Grands-Montets, because I'm about 75th percentile of ski ability in NASJA, but no more than 25th percentile among Extremely Canadian customers.

When Adam saw me with the Salomon 1080's yesterday he commented that they would be too soft. This was true, but I could stay out of trouble by keeping speed under control. And they were more forgiving in variable snow, so I rarely crashed. Meanwhile Adam is ripping this terrain on 188cm. Bandit XXX's.

Extremely Canadian's lead guide used his ski patrol connections to get Las Lenas monthly snowfall history. I will analyze that in an FTO feature that I plan to write by the end of 2005.
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Ski Records
Season length: 21 months, Nov. 29, 2010 - July 2, 2012
Days in one year: 80 from Nov. 29, 2010 - Nov. 17, 2011
Season vertical: 1,610K in 2016-17
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re: Las Lenas, Sept. 3-9

Postby Tony Crocker » Fri Sep 09, 2005 3:49 pm

Nothing too exciting today. It was snowing lightly all day and visibility was bad so we stayed on the groomed. During the morning that included Marte, and there was some fluff to plane on where it wasn't steep and at higher elevation the subsurface was packed powder. However, in most places the subsurface had been well baked the past 3 days and was thus quite firm. The storm total is predicted to be about 18 inches, so by Sunday there could be what everyone dreams about: fresh pow AND Marte open.

This was our last day and my 2004-05 season is finally over. If you are a strong off-piste skier and you need an off-season fix, Las Lenas is definitely the place to go. With the vast and extreme terrain, plus variable exposures, Extremely Canadian's local knowledge and guiding is very valuable, particularly your first time here. We leave early tomorrow morning, and by past reputation the final evening here is often quite a blowout.
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Ski Records
Season length: 21 months, Nov. 29, 2010 - July 2, 2012
Days in one year: 80 from Nov. 29, 2010 - Nov. 17, 2011
Season vertical: 1,610K in 2016-17
Season powder: 291K in 2011-12
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re: Las Lenas, Sept. 3-9

Postby hamdog » Sat Sep 10, 2005 12:25 pm

FYI Marte's lift line averaged 10 minutes today and maxed at 15. That's another reason Extremely Canadian likes to come here late in the season.


those Canadians are very patient. can't wait to see some pics.
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re: Las Lenas, Sept. 3-9

Postby Tony Crocker » Mon Sep 12, 2005 6:09 pm

10-15 minutes is not an unreasonable amount of time to wait for a lift with vertical rise and terrain accessibility comparable to the Snowbird Tram. We ran into some Brits At Iguazu Falls that had been to Las Lenas in early August. Marte was similarly open only one or two days of their week and the lines were 30 minutes then.

Extremely Canadian's photographer Derek Fosse does excellent work, and I'm sure I will use more of his pics than mine. Also skiing in Joe Lammers' top group with Adam was Kevin Arnold, who will write a feature article in the upcoming January 2006 issue of SKI. Kevin also took numerous outstanding photos and we have our fingers crossed that Adam will get his first photo credits (Kevin had him sign a release).
http://bestsnow.net
Ski Records
Season length: 21 months, Nov. 29, 2010 - July 2, 2012
Days in one year: 80 from Nov. 29, 2010 - Nov. 17, 2011
Season vertical: 1,610K in 2016-17
Season powder: 291K in 2011-12
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re: Las Lenas, Sept. 3-9

Postby Tony Crocker » Wed Sep 14, 2005 7:03 am

One more note on Marte's low lift capacity to the top. We never saw a mogul all week (sorry, joegm). The front side bowls turn to corn very fast with the intense sun and minimal skier traffic. The south-facing skiable lines near Marte were smooth windbuff. Wind direction varies a lot, but if Marte is open the day after a storm there will be lots of powder on some aspects and it would take a long time to track it out.
http://bestsnow.net
Ski Records
Season length: 21 months, Nov. 29, 2010 - July 2, 2012
Days in one year: 80 from Nov. 29, 2010 - Nov. 17, 2011
Season vertical: 1,610K in 2016-17
Season powder: 291K in 2011-12
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re: Las Lenas, Sept. 3-9

Postby Old School Carver » Sat Sep 17, 2005 5:56 am

Image

Image
untracked windbuff on Marte (squirrel and arty approve)

Image
Why is there nobody on the lift?
Image
Image
Image
count the date/time stamps...nearly 5 hours of bluebird Marte laps, these blessed bastards!
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re: Las Lenas, Sept. 3-9

Postby Tony Crocker » Sat Sep 17, 2005 8:39 pm

Nice pics, some of which illustrate the scale of Marte. The date/time stamps are off, as the clear day with Marte open was Sept. 8. Times might not be that far off. Las Lenas is 70 degrees west longitude yet uses the time zone centered on 45 degrees west. Thus it was pitch black at 7AM, Marte ran until 4:30PM and the base area lifts were open until 5:30PM.
http://bestsnow.net
Ski Records
Season length: 21 months, Nov. 29, 2010 - July 2, 2012
Days in one year: 80 from Nov. 29, 2010 - Nov. 17, 2011
Season vertical: 1,610K in 2016-17
Season powder: 291K in 2011-12
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re: Las Lenas, Sept. 3-9

Postby Tony Crocker » Sat Sep 24, 2005 11:22 pm

A few pics plus 2 Google Earth views. The second Google Earth has the Marte liftline marked in yellow. Google Earth has a measuring feature that can be used to resolve claims of slope steepeness. The yellow line is barely a mile long for Marte's 2,700 vertical. This means the AVERAGE steepness of that vertical is over 30 degrees. The steepest lifts in North America like Al's Run at Taos and KT-22 are only 2/3 that vertical and less than that average steepness.

LasLenas_Google.JPG
Google Earth overview of Las Lenas from the east.
LasLenas_Google.JPG (32.22 KiB) Viewed 15267 times

Marte_Google.JPG
Google Earth view of Marte from the south.
Marte_Google.JPG (32.4 KiB) Viewed 15266 times

Lenas_Eduardos.JPG
Eduardo's drops 2,500 vertical from the top of Marte to top of Minerva. Adam skied this 4 days later when Marte finally opened.
Lenas_Eduardos.JPG (18.57 KiB) Viewed 15266 times

Lenas_above_Vulcano.JPG
Joe Lammers' top Extremely Canadian group hiked above the Vulcano lift for these fresh tracks Sept. 4.
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Lenas_Vulcano_bowl.JPG
Our guide Cara Dolan has our group wait while the top group (Adam in red at center) rips the lower bowl off Vulcano.
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Lenas_Necklace_up.JPG
Our group skiing Necklace just below the line of rocks Sept. 7.
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Lenas_Marte_liftline.JPG
Sept. 8 afternoon run near Marte liftline. Note extensive area where the lift had to be dug out.
Lenas_Marte_liftline.JPG (37.29 KiB) Viewed 15264 times
http://bestsnow.net
Ski Records
Season length: 21 months, Nov. 29, 2010 - July 2, 2012
Days in one year: 80 from Nov. 29, 2010 - Nov. 17, 2011
Season vertical: 1,610K in 2016-17
Season powder: 291K in 2011-12
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re: Las Lenas, Sept. 3-9

Postby ChrisC » Sun Oct 23, 2005 9:48 pm

Would you recommend Las Lenas if you could only do 4 days?

It looks like Martes is not always operable. What inhibits it besides snow?
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re: Las Lenas, Sept. 3-9

Postby Tony Crocker » Mon Oct 24, 2005 12:48 pm

I strongly recommend "sticking to the program" and doing a Saturday-to-Saturday package. Most of the hotels operate on that basis, as do the Buenos Aires to Malargue flights. I would also point out I got one clear day with Marte open, and it was the 6th day out of 7.

Las Lenas' management is somewhat controversial. They did not bother digging Marte after the August 28-30 storm until Sept. 6-7. The stated reason was expectation of another big storm Sept. 3-5, which turned out to be a couple of minor events. I saw it speculated on another board that after the August 28-30 storm Las Lenas chose to use their snowcats to build big park features for an upcoming snowboard comp rather than dig out Marte.

You pay your money and take your chances. But believe me, if Marte is open the whole week you won't be bored after 4 days. If you think the Marte closure risk is too high you should go somewhere else. Extremely Canadian would point out that in most of those situations you would have a lot of fresh powder as consolation.

I believe the biggest risk of Las Lenas is a season long drought with inadequate snow, which has happened 3 of their 22 seasons. This risk can be eliminated by waiting for an adequate base by June/July and then booking for late season. Drought after that time will not remove the snow from Marte's terrain, and the prevailing weather is at least as conducive as the Sierra for outstanding corn snow.
http://bestsnow.net
Ski Records
Season length: 21 months, Nov. 29, 2010 - July 2, 2012
Days in one year: 80 from Nov. 29, 2010 - Nov. 17, 2011
Season vertical: 1,610K in 2016-17
Season powder: 291K in 2011-12
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Tony Crocker
 
Posts: 9777
Joined: Thu Sep 23, 2004 10:37 am
Location: Avatar: Charlotte Bay, Antarctica 2011
Location: Glendale, California

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