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Las Lenas, Argentina, Aug. 26-27, 2015

Thu Aug 27, 2015 7:26 pm

Wednesday Aug. 26
I got up at 8:40 and wind was rattling the building. Vulcano is visible out my window and no surprise it showed no signs of life. I went over to the Acuario at 10:30 to use the WiFi and to some surprise saw Caris running with powder tracks on Cenidor to the left.

But it was still blowing like crazy on the Vulcano side.

Morning WiFi was much better than the tedious pace Tuesday. James will be pleased that I was even able to make progress on the Google Earth skimap.kmz project we’ve been refining for the past month. We may be able to present admin with a finished product before I’m done at Las Lenas.

Vulcano opened at 2PM so I got a half day ticket and went over there.

Here’s looking down skier’s left of the chair.

I would guess 6-9 inches of new dense snow. Soulskier is right in that Las Lenas snow is even more wind-dominated than at Mammoth, though this area faces mostly east and had also had some sun effect. Lower down I veered left toward those gullies to get more untracked.

I planned to take that off-piste traverse far skier’s left but patrol closed it early. But surprisingly I found less tracked snow than on the first run on SE aspects closer to the Vulcano lift. With Marte closed the Vulcano lift line was 10-15 minutes and it was past 4:15 when I unloaded the third time. From Vulcano I took a tedious step-up traverse far skier’s right. This leads to a lightly tracked bowl 700 feet above the top of Minerva.

This was the best powder I’ve managed so far on this trip, though I know Staley’s early Marte runs Sunday were far more impressive.

Then I rode Caris to check out what I assumed would be well-hammered Cenidor. As at Mammoth, sometimes the wind is your friend and the SE chute was almost completely reloaded with windsift. I hustled from there so I could get back to Caris for an encore before it closed at 5:15.
This modest day was 8,100 vertical but about 3K of powder. I will get to the ticket office early tomorrow in case Marte opens. Both Sunday and Monday the A-factor demonstrated that the fastest way to find out if/when Marte opens is to ski over there and see for yourself.

Here’s the entry to my dormy apartment when I came back from skiing today.

This was not dissimilar from conditions in this area when I arrived Saturday. Don’t even think about coming to Las Lenas without a good pair of snow boots.

Thursday Aug. 27
I observed Vulcano in motion from my window and got out reasonably early. There were high winds up top and Marte was out of the question, though it’s not as obvious from the view as in prior days.

Riding Vesta over to Vulcano I could see that the powder tracks above Minerva had been wiped completely clean by overnight wind.

I took a groomer warmup on Vulcano, my only high speed cruiser so far on the trip. As in the Alps most visitors stay on piste and the later in the day speed is limited by congestion and chewed up snow. Powder tracks near the Vulcano lift had been mostly smoothed over, but the wind was picking up so I decided I had better spend the rest of my Vulcano time on the off-piste traverse to the north.

The drops off that traverse are south facing and heavily wind reloaded. I put the first track into the face below the 3 stopped skiers in the above pic.

My track above was already erased by wind refill at the time of my second traverse 30+ minutes later.

It took a long time to get back there not only for Vulcano’s 10-minute lift line but because the chair was stopping repeatedly with the increasing wind. The wind was directly in my face riding the chair, so I hoped that the lift would be less vulnerable than in a crosswind. But to no surprise that was my last Vulcano run as they shut the lift down at 11:30. I went a bit farther out the traverse to this shot.

The skier was one of a group of 6 fellow gringos from varied locations across the U.S.

I took Caris for a Cenidor run. The same SE chute had the best snow, mostly windbuff with a few irregularities but little of the loose snow from the prior afternoon. Here’s cross section view from Cenidor toward the base area.

The ski area is named for that scrubby plant poking out in the foreground, which is pretty much all that will grow here. Surprisingly I’ve seen 3 jackrabbits in various off-piste locales so far this week.

The flat runout along Venus to the base had very sticky snow from the sun by this time, a bit after noon. I took a Minerva run, finding more heavy spring conditions but at least with enough pitch for gravity to overcome the snow. I had a short lunch at the Minerva base and then 3 more Caris runs. First time I skied between Caris and Minerva with this overview of the entire resort area, excepting the Aries Hotel out of the pic to the left at the base of the Urano poma.

Next I tested the broad open face of Cenidor, which was supportable but variable with lots of loose chunks from when it had been skied in powder Wednesday morning. Missing that was definitely my biggest blunder of the trip so far. Today was the only day my decision making was better than Staley’s, as he skied Cenidor first and got to Vulcano just as it closed.

12,200 vertical, about 1K of windblown powder from the Vulcano traverses.

Under current conditions I will sit out skiing if Vulcano does not open. This week may end with my having the same Marte totals as in 2005. But that’s why I’m here a second week. Next week is supposed to be sunny and more stable, which should mean Marte will be open more often. I suspect I may ski Marte terrain more fluidly in windbuff or corn than in variable powder.

Re: Las Lenas, Argentina, Aug. 26-27, 2015

Fri Aug 28, 2015 12:09 pm

Tony Crocker wrote:Next week is supposed to be sunny and more stable, which should mean Marte will be open more often. I suspect I may ski Marte terrain more fluidly in windbuff or corn than in variable powder.
Prime conditions for touring/hiking above Marte. Get Staley to drag you up Cerro Martin at a minimum, and Entre Rios if you're ambitious.

Re: Las Lenas, Argentina, Aug. 26-27, 2015

Mon Sep 07, 2015 10:38 pm

Wednesday morning had the best powder in terms of snow quality of the entire two weeks on Cenidor. It's a fairly short run and there's nothing too challenging, but it's perfectly fun for 7 untracked pow laps. No pictures from Cenidor, the powder feeding frenzy meant zero stops.

We saw Vulcano was going to open so we waited in line there for a bit and were rewarded with great runs down to the Urano poma. As the afternoon progressed, we simply traversed farther to get more untracked pow and more interesting terrain. The traverse was closed at perhaps 3pm, but given that no one was directly stopping us, I was on a day ticket, and we could always play the dumb gringo card, we continued to ski the terrain off the traverse all by ourselves for the rest of the afternoon.

Some fun couloir we found off the looker's right Vulcano traverse

Thursday wasn't too exciting--Tony did have better decision making. We had a few decent wind buff laps on Cenidor in the morning, but as a result, did not manage to ride Vulcano before it shut due to wind. I then took both Friday and Saturday off due to the weather, so it was a slow end to the first week.

Re: Las Lenas, Argentina, Aug. 26-27, 2015

Tue Sep 08, 2015 12:33 am

The couloir in the picture above was trashed by the rain August 28:
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