Las Lenas, Argentina, Aug. 30 - Sept. 1, 2015

Resort and backcountry skiing and snowboarding anywhere in the southern hemisphere: New Zealand, Australia, South America, etc., including our famous reader-submitted No-Bull Snow Reports.

Las Lenas, Argentina, Aug. 30 - Sept. 1, 2015

Postby Tony Crocker » Tue Sep 01, 2015 5:16 am

Finally the weather is nice and the Andes corn machine is on!

Sunday August 30
With rain to the top Friday night I was not eager for first chair. However, with a new week underway there was a ticket line that took about 10 minutes. Heading toward Marte on the Venus chair was another 10-minute line because the parallel poma lift broke down sometime last week (A-factor). Marte itself was not all that busy when I first boarded it a little before 10AM. The upper part of Marte shows evidence that the rain reached the top.
IMG_2228a.jpg


But interestingly the wind had deposited loose snow in many places, including the steep chutes at the bottom of Marte. Today my plan was to ski some of the big runs down the frontside from the top. This can be an intimidating process because most of them are convex rollovers and you don’t know until you venture down a bit whether you’re in the right place. I decided to follow a snowboard track even though there was a short section of 10 feet or so on top where you had to walk over gravel. Snow conditions were also unknown but hey, if a snowboarder can hold an edge, surely I can. Over the rollover here’s the view of a classic Las Lenas big line. :drool:
IMG_2232.JPG


It was a pleasant surprise that the steep upper section was dry windbuff. Once out of the Mercurio chute the wide open bowl below turned east and at 11:15 it was ~1,500 vertical of corn perfection. Sorry I didn’t stop for pics in that part. :-D

I skied down to Caris as the fastest way to get back to Marte. Before noon to no surprise Cenidor was a horrid refrozen mess. I got back to Marte 11:45 where there was now a 15-minute line. I decided now was the time to ski east facing Paraiso even though it might be more difficult to get back to the base area than in 2005. The windswept plateau rolled over to this mellow pitch of good corn.
IMG_2237.JPG


The next section looked ugly, sastrugi with ice crystals.
IMG_2238.JPG


But a short traverse across this junky part led to a line of windbuff. In 2005 this is where the Extremely Canadian guides turned right (south) to work their way back to the base, eventually dropping into the gully north of Vulcano. The 2 skiers circled in this pic are looking for the way to bail in that direction with this years’ sketchier snowpack.
IMG_2239a.jpg


But I’m too tempted by the line of smooth corn dropping off to lower left. And from yesterday’s foray north of Vulcano I’m fairly sure any skiing those skiers find on the other side isn’t going to be very good. Eventually I reached this view and followed a couple of tracks to the valley floor via the marked route.
IMG_2241a.jpg


The lower section was corn about an hour past its prime and starting to stick a little. But when the run is 3,700 vertical, spring snow is unlikely to be the same top to bottom.

Now for the slog out: after about 15 minutes I took this picture looking back.
IMG_2246.JPG


For this section the snow ran out and I was walking on the road a bit.
IMG_2251.JPG


Eventually I got back on snow and walked on skis up a gradual rise to the runout from the Vulcano gully. In total it took 50 minutes for me to get to the Urano poma from the bottom of Paraiso. Still worth doing once in a week here IMHO.

I rode Caris, and at least now it was 2:30 so Cenidor’s surface had finally softened. With a 10 minute Marte liftline I got to Billboard overlooking the top of Vulcano about 3:15. Billboard is tilted more south than Mercurio so if it’s in spring mode the softening should be later. It turned out to be dry windbuff for about ¾ of its 2,000 vertical. Halfway down I took pics looking first up.
IMG_2253.JPG


And then down.
IMG_2254.JPG


I had a pic from Wednesday taken from the Vulcano chair with a good view of both Mercurio and Billboard.
IMG_2186a.jpg

Mercurio marked in red, Billboard in blue. The upper chute of Mercurio is about 40 degrees, upper Billboard is more like 35. The "X" marked on each line is about the transition point from dry windbuff to corn/spring snow.

I zipped down Vulcano’s groomer to Caris/Cenidor in order to get to Marte before its 4:15PM close. Patrollers don’t let you ski the more extreme routes that late in the day, but my plan was to take the Iris poma and find some mellow west facing off-piste that I hoped might be like Mammoth’s chair 14. I found about 500 vertical of varied windbuff dropping onto the Apolo trail. The pitch I skied is out of view farther up Apolo in this pic.
IMG_2261.JPG

The slopes in the pic face SW but obviously take too much direct wind to hold cover unless it’s a bigger year than this one.

Most of the South American skiers here just take the 2 Marte groomers and I expected them to be fairly chewed up this late in the day. But Jupiter was quite nice down to 9,000 feet or so and even had some wind deposition.
IMG_2263.JPG


I got down to the bottom a little after 5PM. 19,600 vertical, by far my best day of the trip, but hopefully there will be a few more like this the rest of the week.

Monday August 31
The morning started crystal clear and warm, though there was ice by the side of the road indicating some overnight freezing. I tempted fate by buying a 5-day ticket (price slightly less than 4 single days) with the ongoing warm and dry weather prediction.

Up Marte I once again started with Mercurio via a different chute skier’s right of the one I skied yesterday.
IMG_2269.JPG

Unfortunately the bowl of smooth corn below yesterday had been churned somewhat by people skiing it later in the day.

On the return Caris chair I took this pic of Necklace Bowl, which has beaten up quite a bit by the rain and sunny NE exposure.
IMG_2273.JPG


Next time up Marte I met two Pacific Northwest skiers, Bill from Bellevue and Jim from Bend. They were skiing with Annie, who owns an Atenas apartment with her injured husband George, and Annie’s brother John. We skied Billboard together, which retained most of its chalky surface from the prior afternoon. Annie here:
IMG_2274.JPG


Bill and Annie on the lower part, which was in nice corn mode at noon.
IMG_2277.JPG


Jim, John and Annie took a lunch break, but Bill, who had ripped the upper 1,500 of Billboard nonstop, was up for an adventure. We are both interested in finding Eduardo’s, but I guessed that my final “survival skiing run” from August 24 might be in forgiving corn mode today. So we entered Paraiso but cut off to this short gravel walk to Mt. Argos, informally known as “Sombrero.”
IMG_2281.JPG


I took more pics this time in the nicer weather. Short upper bowl:
IMG_2282.JPG


Bill at the top of the same rollover as a week ago:
IMG_2283.JPG


I guessed right on snow conditions. From this pic Bill is a tiny dot far below just right of the left rocks.
IMG_2284.JPG

At ~1:30 corn was ideal for 1,500+ vertical to the bottom of the gully. The route of this is traced on the last pic of my August 24 report.

We dodged the gravel in the gully and got down to Urano. Bill didn’t have his phone and need to find his friends. I took his info and since this was one of my more successful guiding jobs I might ski some more with this crew the rest of the week. I took a snack and rest break at the Minerva base, refilled my water bottle (you need to drink a LOT here on days like this), before heading for my last Marte run.

It was a memorable grand finale. I followed 5 Argentines to the top of Eduardo’s.
IMG_2287.JPG


But then I peeked over the top of a narrow SW-facing couloir that I had seen while riding Marte.
IMG_2288.JPG


I needed to sideslip the top a bit. I knew that when it emerged into the sun, this was probably the safest scenario, ~3:30PM on a very warm day, for max softening.

About 500 vert in, I took a break and pics up:
IMG_2290a.jpg


And a long way down.
IMG_2289.JPG


Out in the sun the snow was indeed in nice corn mode.
IMG_2291.JPG


I took a picture of this couloir on the way up, ski route marked in red.
IMG_2285a.jpg

I was a little late with camera on the chair, so the perspective looks more hair-raising than it was. There is still a clear skiable line where the dotted line is going through rocks at the bottom of the pic. I don’t do air, especially in this kind of terrain.

Nonetheless this ranks on the short list of most demanding runs I’ve ever skied. Big Couloir at Big Sky in 2001 was the scariest, an average 43-degree dogleg and when I was there the upper half was partially refrozen. Little Chute at Alta is similarly steep and very intense with a choke ¾ of the way down, but I skied that one in 2014 in fresh powder. This one I think was just shy of 40 degrees, but maintains that pitch for over 2,000 vertical. That’s twice as long as Big Couloir and 3x as long as Main Chute or Little Chute.

These are the moments that make the trials and tribulations of Las Lenas worthwhile. 19,200 vertical. Staley and I met for a steak dinner. He informed me that the couloir I skied is called Human Error.
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
User avatar
Tony Crocker
 
Posts: 9801
Joined: Thu Sep 23, 2004 10:37 am
Location: Avatar: Charlotte Bay, Antarctica 2011
Location: Glendale, California

Re: Las Lenas, Argentina, Aug. 30-31, 2015

Postby jasoncapecod » Tue Sep 01, 2015 6:23 am

Doesn't look all that appealing..Flying half way around the world to ski a pile of rubble...
Last edited by jasoncapecod on Tue Sep 01, 2015 7:49 am, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
jasoncapecod
 
Posts: 1125
Joined: Wed Jan 25, 2006 9:30 am
Location: NEW YORK

Re: Las Lenas, Argentina, Aug. 30-31, 2015

Postby Tony Crocker » Tue Sep 01, 2015 6:57 am

jasoncapecod wrote:... a pile of ruble...

That would be in Russia. :lol: Here in Argentina it's a pile of blue dollars.
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
User avatar
Tony Crocker
 
Posts: 9801
Joined: Thu Sep 23, 2004 10:37 am
Location: Avatar: Charlotte Bay, Antarctica 2011
Location: Glendale, California

Re: Las Lenas, Argentina, Aug. 30-31, 2015

Postby jasoncapecod » Tue Sep 01, 2015 7:51 am

ok , I know i'm a functional idiot...
User avatar
jasoncapecod
 
Posts: 1125
Joined: Wed Jan 25, 2006 9:30 am
Location: NEW YORK

Re: Las Lenas, Argentina, Aug. 30 - Sept. 1, 2015

Postby Tony Crocker » Tue Sep 01, 2015 6:03 pm

Tuesday, Sept. 1
Despite the prediction of clear skies all week, I awoke to a thick cloud only 1,000 feet above the base area, which explains why the prior two days TR’s were posted this morning. At noon the clouds dissipated so I headed out. The base area was very slushy due to no overnight freeze.

Riding Neptuno I had a clearer top-to-bottom view of Human Error, completely lit in the midday sun.
IMG_2299a.jpg

At the dogleg it merges into looker’s right last pitch of the Marte liftline.

Also from Neptuno can be viewed even more extreme south chutes.
IMG_2296a.jpg

Staley says the only continuously open line is Frankie’s. Note the top pitch of Frankie’s is shaded at midday, which tells you that it’s steeper than Human Error. Staley says 50 degrees.

I got to Marte for my first run just as Staley and Dave were arriving for their second. We skied a different Mercurio chute than I had done the past two days. Staley about to drop out of view.
IMG_2303.JPG


Dave in the open bowl
IMG_2304.JPG

Upper part was fairly smooth but more chewed up lower down.

Dave and Staley went back to their apartments. I decided the time had come for me to find Eduardo’s. Getting there ~2:30 would hopefully mean any refrozen parts would soften some. Here’s the top entry.
IMG_2311a.jpg

This pitch curves to skier’s left, toward Eduardo’s Variante, an open bowl draining to the northeast which is likely mush by noon. Somehow I have to get on the other side of that big rock in the middle of the pic above to get into SE-facing main Eduardo’s.

From this view I see I need to get to where I’ve marked the red dot
IMG_2312.JPG


From the red dot spot, looking back at the top pitch.
IMG_2313.JPG


Looking down from same spot.
IMG_2314.JPG


This section was south facing, chalky with nascent moguls.

Then it opens up more but turns SE with more variable snow.
IMG_2315.JPG

Snow skier’s left was pretty good but it was mushy if you strayed too far skier’s right.

Finally I’m in the straight shot to the bottom.
IMG_2317.JPG

Staley skied Eduardo's in powder a week ago and you can still see tracks off to the left from Sunday’s windsift. He recommended traversing over there, but skier’s left of the main gut remained smooth packed powder down to 9,500 feet so I stuck with it that far.

Below 9,500 snow was junky so I traversed left a few times for more supportable snow. Finally I bailed out of the gully to a more open slope above the Minerva chair.
IMG_2318.JPG


Here’s my route traced as viewed from the Caris chair.
IMG_2309a.jpg

Eduardo’s is more open than Human Error, but the top half half is steeper, probably a bit over 40 degrees for close to 1000 vertical. With more variable snow it skied tougher IMHO, though I’m sure it was a blast when Staley got it in powder at the beginning of the trip. No regrets here, because I had no business being near Eduardo’s in the shape I was in then.

With 3 more likely(?) sunny days ahead, I was content to call it a day at 3PM with only 8,800 vertical. But it’s all about quality, right?

Here's a map framed in the Refugio restaurant labeling some of the off-piste lines.
IMG_2266.JPG
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
User avatar
Tony Crocker
 
Posts: 9801
Joined: Thu Sep 23, 2004 10:37 am
Location: Avatar: Charlotte Bay, Antarctica 2011
Location: Glendale, California

Re: Las Lenas, Argentina, Aug. 30 - Sept. 1, 2015

Postby q » Wed Sep 02, 2015 1:17 am

Nice report as ever Tony, bringing back memories of my trip to South America 10 years ago.

Never made it to Las Lenas but all the same issues with lifts not spinning and the like are country wide :-D
Q
User avatar
q
 
Posts: 302
Joined: Sun Oct 28, 2007 7:59 am
Location: Aberdeen, Scotland - Avatar: Primer Bowl, Loveland, CO

Re: Las Lenas, Argentina, Aug. 30 - Sept. 1, 2015

Postby Tony Crocker » Wed Sep 02, 2015 7:28 pm

q wrote: my trip to South America 10 years ago.

That was the other time I was here in Las Lenas. It was a big snow year for the central Andes resorts. Las Lenas had more snow by the end of June than it has had all season this year. Too much snow actually. Marte was partially buried the week before we arrived. They took 3 days digging it out so we only got one day to ski it.

Where were you and how was it?
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
User avatar
Tony Crocker
 
Posts: 9801
Joined: Thu Sep 23, 2004 10:37 am
Location: Avatar: Charlotte Bay, Antarctica 2011
Location: Glendale, California

Re: Las Lenas, Argentina, Aug. 30 - Sept. 1, 2015

Postby q » Mon Sep 07, 2015 4:11 am

It was a 3 week trip, 5555km driven with 12 days skied at 6 resorts in Chile and Argentina.

We spent 2 chunks of time at Termas de Chillan which I thought was superb. Lots of mileage there. We then headed to Antuco which was not open and on towards Malalcahuello where we were once again denied by a lack of interest in clearing the access road for a couple days up to Corralco. Next we headed to Volcan Osorno which although open wasnt worth skiing. Next we headed for a couple days brilliant skiing at Antillanca. I loved that place, some wonderful terrain. La Hoya which was also brilliant, with some great hiking above the chair.

Denied at Perito Moreno which only opened weekends followed by a day at Cerro Bayo which I thoroughly enjoyed. Then the rain came and we went to Chapelco which I have little recollection of apart from it felt resorty and modern. It had decent snow I remember that. Then we went to Caviahue which turned out to be a mistake on many fronts. Rained, hardly any terrain open up the mountain etc and a night in a dire room.

As mentioned the A factor plays a part in Chile and Argentina but I would love to go back.
Q
User avatar
q
 
Posts: 302
Joined: Sun Oct 28, 2007 7:59 am
Location: Aberdeen, Scotland - Avatar: Primer Bowl, Loveland, CO

Re: Las Lenas, Argentina, Aug. 30 - Sept. 1, 2015

Postby Staley » Mon Sep 07, 2015 10:54 pm

Even though there was apparently rain to the top sometime on Friday/Saturday, I still got to Marte first thing on Sunday and was rewarded with a rare 9:30am opening with just 3 other skiers there. We decided to take the risk of sliding to our deaths on a rain crust and went straight to Eduardo without any idea of what the snow would be like. The entrance was a bit firm, but once inside, the more south-facing aspects held powder-like snow that skied great, although we certainly took the run conservatively.

IMG_1301.jpg
Halfway down the first run on Eduardo


The rest of the day was spent skiing wind-buff/powder-like snow at the top of the Marte chutes and then chasing the corn in the open fields below. Later in the afternoon, I made the mistake of skiing a chute that faced more northeast and I set off a pretty large wet slide that I was thankfully able to outski. Certainly a reminder of why you should wear full avi gear at all times while skiing Las Lenas.

IMG_1308.jpg
Looking back up at Penelope, the chute center left


IMG_1309.jpg
Chute with big walls


IMG_1311.jpg
The chute that slid. The bottom of the chute is far below--the slide ran for at least 800 vertical feet but started slowly enough that I had time to react
Staley
 
Posts: 276
Joined: Tue Sep 22, 2009 6:05 pm

Re: Las Lenas, Argentina, Aug. 30 - Sept. 1, 2015

Postby Staley » Mon Sep 07, 2015 11:03 pm

August 31st was my biggest hiking day. I started the day by doing Torrecillas, seen below, although I couldn't get quite to the top because the bootpack got too deep. The snow didn't ski super deep, but it was powder.

IMG_1314.JPG
Torrecillas


Instead of sessioning a booter that one of my friends built at the bottom of Torrecillas, I skied back to the area between Cerro Negro and Entre Rios and booted up the firm snow and then rocky ridgeline to reach Entre Rios. It was very windy on the ridge and I was pretty exhausted, so I skied the couloir straight down the middle of the face. The snow was more wind affected than Torrecillas, but it was consistent and pretty easy to ski, and the terrain is amazing.

IMG_1326.JPG
Entre Rios. I skied the line straight down the middle as I didn't want to take any chances with extreme terrain late in the afternoon when I was tired.
Staley
 
Posts: 276
Joined: Tue Sep 22, 2009 6:05 pm

Re: Las Lenas, Argentina, Aug. 30 - Sept. 1, 2015

Postby Staley » Mon Sep 07, 2015 11:07 pm

Given how much I had hiked the previous day, I didn't get out early on September 1st when I saw the morning cloud layer. We only did two Marte laps all day, but the first one did include the fun, steep Amanitas Phalloide chutes:

IMG_1329.JPG
These chutes are short, but pretty steep with blind rollovers to make route finding more interesting
Staley
 
Posts: 276
Joined: Tue Sep 22, 2009 6:05 pm

Re: Las Lenas, Argentina, Aug. 30 - Sept. 1, 2015

Postby Tony Crocker » Tue Sep 08, 2015 12:58 am

Staley wrote:We decided to take the risk of sliding to our deaths on a rain crust and went straight to Eduardo without any idea of what the snow would be like.

Staley would have been amused by my tentative first exploration at the top of Mercurio Sunday Aug. 30. As I was route finding in areas with blind rollovers and possible rain effect, I rejected the direct entrance often referred to as Cartel and followed a snowboard track into a different Mercurio chute even though I had to hike over some gravel to get there. Once I determined that the sheltered steep entries up top had soft windbuff I pushed the explorations further.

I hoped eventually to get guidance to Eduardo's because you could have a tough retreat if you make a wrong decision and get cliffed out. My first opportunity came when I followed the group of Argentines on my last Marte run Monday.
Image
But given the weather and time of day 3:30PM I got out there I decided I had a rare opportunity to ski Human Error. And of course it gave me a good clue where to start looking for Eduardo's entrances on Tuesday.

The melt/freeze eventually reached much of the upper steeps Wednesday/Thursday. There were hard overnight freezes Thursday-Saturday Sept. 3-5 and ski patrol was enforcing closure of all off-piste south of Mercurio. That includes Eduardo's, so if I hadn't gone after that on Tuesday I might have missed it.
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
User avatar
Tony Crocker
 
Posts: 9801
Joined: Thu Sep 23, 2004 10:37 am
Location: Avatar: Charlotte Bay, Antarctica 2011
Location: Glendale, California


Return to Down Under

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 8 guests


All content herein copyright © 1999-2017 First Tracks!! Online Media

Forums Terms & Conditions of Use

cron