Las Lenas 8/20 - 9/2, 2016

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Las Lenas 8/20 - 9/2, 2016

Postby Staley » Sun Aug 21, 2016 12:30 pm

I'm back in Las Leñas for two weeks this year. Coverage is definitely less good than last year, and heavy rains up to the top of the Jupiter lift about a week before I arrived have left the lower mountain a bit thin. The Cenidor area all slid to the ground as a result of the rain and is unskiable. That being said, conditions up high are good.

I got on the mountain around 1:45pm after my bus from Buenos Aires and the top of Marte was fully stuck in a cloud. I gave it a shot anyways, and although apparently the off piste was closed for a lack of visibility, I didn't realize this and skied an easy Mercurio lap. It was very cold, so the snow was good and it skied like 3-4 inches of powder on top of a smooth base, with the slight challenge that I couldn't see a thing.

It was totally sunny this morning and about 40° warmer, so I headed straight to Marte. Eduardo was a bit wind affected, but still held untracked snow that served as a nice warmup run. I then did a quick skin to Manhattan, a chute across from Marte and looker's right of Collar, where Tony skied last year. I reached the top of the 2,500 vertical foot chute (probably averaging 35-40°, but with steeper sections) around noon and conditions were absolutely perfect. There hadn't been a melt/freeze cycle since the last snowfall, so I suppose it wasn't technically corn, but it skied like a completely smooth 2-3 inches of corn, plus I had first tracks. Definitely one of the best runs I've had down here, or anywhere.

The next few days also look warm and sunny, so the plan is for touring above Marte, with some laps from the chair in the afternoon if time and fitness permit. The Norwegian forecasting site has a decent sized storm arriving on the 29th, but obviously that's too far out to be reliable. That being said, a storm would be very helpful to maintain coverage down low, and I'm sure I'll be wanting a down day or two after chasing much better skiers around each day in the hike-to terrain above Marte.
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Re: Las Lenas 8/20-21

Postby Tony Crocker » Sun Aug 21, 2016 8:47 pm

I would definitely be interested in seeing a pic of Manhattan. Here's a profile pic of my El Collar run last year:
Image
It's hard to visualize a skiable line looker's right of mine and steeper if this year's coverage is worse than last year's.

With known lower elevation rain it's certainly possible that upper coverage is better this year even if lower coverage is worse.

The bottom line is that 7,400 east facing base elevation at 35 degrees latitude is not great for snow preservation. This has discouraged local Argentine intermediates like Norma from Rosario whom I met last year.

Unless you have Staley's level of conditioning to be hiking/skinning most days, you need to choose a season for Las Lenas when coverage is decent top to bottom to open up more lift accessible lines. There were many more skiable lines covered in 2005 than in 2015. Unfortunately there was only one day of my 2005 trip with Marte open.

I guess I should ask how much more expensive this year is in Argentina with the demise of the "blue dollar." It's probably still a decent value but not quite the bargain of the past 4 years.

We can also be following this concurrent Adventure Project report from Chillan: http://www.epicski.com/t/147239/2016-ne ... rip-report
Matt is known mainly for his Gulmarg expeditions, but my path crossed with his in Kiroro, Japan last January. Matt's timing for Chillan looks fortuitous. Coverage was marginal until the storm that hit right before his arrival.
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Re: Las Lenas 8/20-21

Postby Staley » Mon Aug 22, 2016 12:13 pm

You can see part of Manhattan in that photo, it starts between the rocks just below where the blue line ends at the top of your skin. There is a bit more snow in the chute than last year though, judging by the photo.

Today I hustled up Entre Rios first thing in the morning and ended up putting down the first track since the last storm, although a French local put in the whole boot pack. It was probably the best run of my life, with the top 1800 feet of spines and chutes being hero pow (which surprised me, since the snow looked a bit wind affected), and then the runout on the bottom was smooth wind pack. I've gotten some pretty bad blisters from all the skinning and hiking in alpine boots, so just the one run today.

The exchange this year is basically the same as the past two years, but prices have definitely gone up a bit. Still, it's a fairly cheap trip overall.
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Re: Las Lenas 8/20-21

Postby Tony Crocker » Mon Aug 22, 2016 3:23 pm

Staley wrote:You can see part of Manhattan in that photo, it starts between the rocks just below where the blue line ends at the top of your skin. There is a bit more snow in the chute than last year though, judging by the photo.

That was my guess. Snow in that exposure would have been beat up some by Sept. 1 last season, likely in better shape Aug. 21.

The ongoing drought in this region looks very serious to me with the last above average season being 2009. It is as acute as the 2012-15 in the Sierra and now approaching double the duration.

Staley wrote:The exchange this year is basically the same as the past two years, but prices have definitely gone up a bit. Still, it's a fairly cheap trip overall.

Exchange now is close to blue dollar last year. Lodging, transportation costs paid by credit card probably adjusted to remain similar. The other stuff, food, wine, maybe lift tickets rate to be more than last year.
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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 8/20-21

Postby soulskier » Tue Aug 23, 2016 1:04 pm

Staley wrote:
Today I hustled up Entre Rios first thing in the morning and ended up putting down the first track since the last storm, although a French local put in the whole boot pack. It was probably the best run of my life, with the top 1800 feet of spines and chutes being hero pow (which surprised me, since the snow looked a bit wind affected), and then the runout on the bottom was smooth wind pack. I've gotten some pretty bad blisters from all the skinning and hiking in alpine boots, so just the one run today.



Entre Rios holds powder amazingly. I'm stoked that was the best run of your life, that's the closest thing to a heli run you can find from a bootpack anywhere on the planet.

http://www.mrablog.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/45005_456391948707_5884944_n.jpg

http://www.mrablog.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/45005_456391958707_4919622_n.jpg
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Re: Las Lenas 8/20-21

Postby Staley » Thu Aug 25, 2016 12:30 pm

Entre Rios is certainly my favorite mountain I've skied, such a great combination of spines and chutes.

I'm now 6 for 6 on Marte being open. After destroying my feet on Entre Rios, I limited hiking the next day and skied a ton of untracked corn around the Sombrero area. Yesterday, I did a quick hike up to the Banana on Cerro Martin and found winter chalk and a little bit of pow.

Today was a bit windier and colder, so I thought only the true north facing terrain would soften. As such, I did two quick laps on Collar and Little Manhattan (smaller chute looker's right of Manhattan, only a 20-25 minute skin).

The forecast is not looking super promising for the weekend. There will likely be a small storm, but not much snow is forecasted. On the plus side, the cold temperatures should allow for snowmaking around the base.
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Re: Las Lenas 8/20-21

Postby Tony Crocker » Thu Aug 25, 2016 1:08 pm

How sketchy is it getting down from Sombrero to the Urano poma vs. last year?
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Season length: 21 months, Nov. 29, 2010 - July 2, 2012
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Season vertical: 1,610K in 2016-17
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Re: Las Lenas 8/20-21

Postby Staley » Thu Aug 25, 2016 1:22 pm

You can't ski to the Urano poma, so I've mainly traversed back to Vulcano.
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Re: Las Lenas 8/20-21

Postby Tony Crocker » Thu Aug 25, 2016 11:42 pm

Staley wrote:You can't ski to the Urano poma, so I've mainly traversed back to Vulcano.

That cuts off a lot of terrain back there. You have to bail from Sombrero quite high not to get funneled into the deep canyon skier's left of Vulcano. My corn runs out there last year were farther skier's left of that canyon.
Image
And obviously no skiing Paraiso to the valley floor either.
Image
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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
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Re: Las Lenas 8/20-21

Postby Staley » Fri Aug 26, 2016 10:33 am

True, but at least you can still access the best terrain off Sombrero and still get back to Vulcano. Today's my first down day. Everything except Marte is open, but given the cloudy skies and nothing but groomers available on the open terrain, I decided it wasn't worth it. Thus far, I haven't taken Caris, Minerva, or Vulcano even once.
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Re: Las Lenas 8/20-21

Postby Staley » Sun Aug 28, 2016 12:29 pm

There was a surprise few centimeters that fell last night, so I headed straight to Torrecillas hoping that more had fallen up there. It was even better than I hoped--boot deep blower. The rest of the mountain was sort of dust on crust, but with another sunny day forecasted tomorrow, I'm hoping for some really nice corn.
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Re: Las Lenas 8/20-21

Postby Staley » Thu Sep 01, 2016 12:44 pm

Today was why you come down here. Bluebird pow, no wind, Marte open from the start. We put in the first tracks down Eduardo Variante, the 2nd and 3rd in Errare Humane, and then had the run of a lifetime opening up Entre Rios. I've been sick so setting the boot pack was hard work, but over the head blower on Entre Rios is one of those unforgettable runs.
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Re: Las Lenas 8/20-21

Postby Tony Crocker » Thu Sep 01, 2016 1:09 pm

After taking the better part of two weeks to navigate Las Lenas last year, Eduardo's Variante would be my choice for first run on a powder day: wide open perfect pitch and get it before the sun does on the NE exposure.

How is avalanche safety assessed on Entre Rios, El Collar etc.? Do they have to control it due to overlooking pistes below? I would guess yes for El Collar due to the damage in the Neptuno area last year. And the cat road would allow patrol to get up there without much trouble. I'm guessing Entre Rios/Torrecillas are true backcountry with skiers making their own assessments. The Las Lenas frontside has very extensive controls with several Gasex installations.
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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 8/20-21

Postby soulskier » Thu Sep 01, 2016 1:49 pm

Staley wrote:Today was why you come down here. Bluebird pow, no wind, Marte open from the start. We put in the first tracks down Eduardo Variante, the 2nd and 3rd in Errare Humane, and then had the run of a lifetime opening up Entre Rios. I've been sick so setting the boot pack was hard work, but over the head blower on Entre Rios is one of those unforgettable runs.


Wow, that sounds like a trophy day.
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Re: Las Lenas 8/20-21

Postby Staley » Fri Sep 09, 2016 3:52 pm

Tony Crocker wrote:After taking the better part of two weeks to navigate Las Lenas last year, Eduardo's Variante would be my choice for first run on a powder day: wide open perfect pitch and get it before the sun does on the NE exposure.

How is avalanche safety assessed on Entre Rios, El Collar etc.? Do they have to control it due to overlooking pistes below? I would guess yes for El Collar due to the damage in the Neptuno area last year. And the cat road would allow patrol to get up there without much trouble. I'm guessing Entre Rios/Torrecillas are true backcountry with skiers making their own assessments. The Las Lenas frontside has very extensive controls with several Gasex installations.


Collar has a Gasex installation in one spot, but it's backcountry terrain--the Gasex can't possibly control the entire bowl, and it shouldn't be assumed that the Gasex is in operation. The same goes for the frontside terrain--avalanche control is limited and may not be up to North American standards. Full avy gear should be worn at all times.

Everything above Marte (Cerro Martin, Entre Rios, Cerro Negro, Torrecillas) is backcountry terrain--avalanche safety assessments aren't particularly different than they'd be in the Eastern Sierra backcountry (the snowpacks are fairly similar), except the consequences of a mistake are higher in the Andes. The spines on Entre Rios and Torrecillas are very useful for slough management and serve as (somewhat) safe zones that you can make ski cuts between. I've finally sent a few of the photos to my computer--I'll have them uploaded soon.
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