Las Lenas, Aug. 8-22, 2009 by Adam

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Las Lenas, Aug. 8-22, 2009 by Adam

Postby Tony Crocker » Tue Aug 11, 2009 11:15 am

-----Original Message-----
From: Adam Crocker

The flight + bus was fine, though very long. When I finally got
to the apartment here on Saturday, it was nearly noon. The guy
renting it out (Ted) was headed in for lunch along with my friend from
the ucsd team (Sierra). We had some food and then I went out with
them to ski the afternoon. We did
10,000 vertical and I felt pretty
beat, but the snow was fairly good.

Sunday was a bit of an adventure, as the three of us plus a fourth guy
staying with us (Chris) headed up to do a big hike off the back side
after waiting for the top chair (Marte) to open (it was closed for
wind). I knew i'd be slow, but they didn't communicate where exactly
we were headed. I ended up skiing a great chute with our 5th room
mate and some neighbors, after about 90 minutes of hiking. The skiing
was excellent but I was slow because I'm still finding my ski legs a
bit, plus I was very tired from the hike. They apparently hiked for a
solid two hours.

Today was better, as the four of us did a shorter hike (30 minutes)
and then some laps on the lifts. With the weather being clear this
week, the good snow is up high where you have to hike for it, but it's
been worth it. We hear there is a storm comming around Tuesday night
and into Thursday, so hopefully some powder is in the near future.

The people I'm staying with are great and have had no problem leading
me and Sierra around. The accomodations are pretty bare (there's a
hole in our roof that leaks) but the price is right and the company is
good. Hopefully I can use Ted's laptop and upload some pictures later
this week.
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Re: Las Lenas, Aug. 8-10, 2009 by Adam

Postby Tony Crocker » Tue Aug 18, 2009 12:32 pm

I have not heard from Adam since this a week ago:

The snow base is visibly lower than four years ago. This is most
apparent riding up Marte as it is not even close to being buried.
Coverage is still pretty good however, there's just more rocks exposed
in places like Eduardos. The upper stuff behind Marte where we've
been hiking has better coverage and snow since it is higher, steeper,
and in some cases better protected. It is on the warm side right now,
and the updated forcast says minor storm wed. with more Friday
and Friday night. I've yet to figure out the proper exposure for
corn on the front side here. I sort of remember where Joe took us for
it last time but haven't been out there yet. If I screw up the timing
or aspect, it will be a long run of mashed potatoes and a long slog
back. It is a forgiving pitch however so other than the nuisance
factor exploring out there should be fairly low-consequence.


Since then there's been a substantial dump http://www.laslenas.com/english/tracks.php of 110-230cm. So Adam should be getting lots of powder, even if it's not on Marte. Base depths should be up to at least normal for Patrick.
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Days in one year: 80 from Nov. 29, 2010 - Nov. 17, 2011
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Re: Las Lenas, Aug. 8-10, 2009 by Adam

Postby Patrick » Fri Aug 21, 2009 10:39 am

Tony Crocker wrote:So Adam should be getting lots of powder, even if it's not on Marte. Base depths should be up to at least normal for Patrick.

Catching up on stuff, so I'm a bit out of the loop regarding the latest SA news. I would appreciate if you can pass the info here.

Planned arrival in Las Lenas, September 1st. Looks like Adam and I might have found the same lodging arrangements unless they are a bunch of Ted in Las Lenas?

Big Avy a few days ago on Ruta 7 between Portillo and Mendoza. Shutdown for a number of days.

Also heard that Lenas had a number of lifts shutdown during the storm. Based on what I got, the Marte lift would has been affected...heard many thing from opening again in 2-3 days to done for the rest of the season.

edit: also curious to see his overall impression of Las Lenas and Marte situation.
Last edited by Patrick on Fri Aug 21, 2009 1:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Las Lenas, Aug. 8-20, 2009 by Adam

Postby Tony Crocker » Fri Aug 21, 2009 11:41 am

Short update from Adam 8/20:
Wednesday was an excellent powder day on Vulcano. 17500 vert and
probably 75% of it powder. The day before was good off of the Caris
lift as well. Marte was allegedly damaged to some minor degree in the
storm, so it could open tomorrow or it could be a week. We have
another hike planned for tomorrow if it doesn't open, but hopefully I
get at least one day of it before leaving Saturday night.


Las Lenas website said Marte closed yesterday due to "avalanche risk" and today due to "maintenance." Vulcano was closed yesterday but open today, so presumably another round of powder there. Portillo has had ~100 inches since the storm started. The webcam there yesterday showed the pool deck with a substantial layer of snow, but the lake in the background looked dark (unfrozen?). Today's cam is a wide angle view over the lake, all white.

It will be interesting to get Adam's impressions once he gets home next Monday. Las Lenas without Marte is still close to Portillo or Treble Cone in scale. So in 3-7 feet of new snow, probably not a bad experience.

Big Avy a few days ago on Ruta 7 between Portillo and Mendoza. Shutdown for a number of days.

Will you fly to Mendoza if this happens when you arrive in Santiago?
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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, Aug. 8-20, 2009 by Adam

Postby Patrick » Fri Aug 21, 2009 1:42 pm

Tony Crocker wrote: Las Lenas without Marte is still close to Portillo(...). So in 3-7 feet of new snow, probably not a bad experience..


Not bad, but maybe a bit much for 6-7 days when you consider the other SA options and cost. This is one of the reasons why Las Lenas wasn't my #1 destinations the first two trips. Probably the best place when it's running, but far from other options.

Big Avy a few days ago on Ruta 7 between Portillo and Mendoza. Shutdown for a number of days.

Will you fly to Mendoza if this happens when you arrive in Santiago?[/quote]

The road is already opened, plus I arrived in the morning of August 28th. Hoping to be on a bus across the border in Argentina a few hours later. I have 3 full days before I need to get to LL.
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Re: Las Lenas, Aug. 8-21, 2009 by Adam

Postby Tony Crocker » Sat Aug 22, 2009 8:06 pm

More from Adam re: Marte, sent Friday morning 8/21

It's nothing to do with control. For one, they ran the cat yesterday
tho I'm not sure where they let people ski. Second, the patroller I
talked to on Wednesday said the problem with Marte being closed is
"not the mountain, it's the chair damage." This conversation was in
Spanish so I didn't get a whole lot of details but that part was
clear. A friend dug a pit up above Caris on Wednesday and said the
snowpack was quite stable. It was maritime snow and by that time it
had been settling for several days. We saw some natural slides that
released earlier in the week, particularly over by Vulcano but those
were mostly on northeast faces that got a lot of sun. Nothing up high
has moved from what we can see.

Also, they let us hike above Caris, which we did yesterday. We hiked
well up onto the ridge and a good chunk of the way towards Eduardo's.
People were skiing off both sides of that ridge. We took a run on the
east side which had good but variable snow due to some northern
exposure. I wanted to ski a different aspect that was more directly
east but it was a big group. We scouted a good line off the other
side towards the base of Marte and had planned to ski it this morning,
but the weather is socked in and visibility is s#!t so I didn't ski
today. The forecast for tomorrow looks the same so I think the four
days when I first got here will be my only Marte time this trip.
Unfortunate, as yesterday would have been amazing with Marte, but I
guess that's about the same percentage uptime as our last trip so it's
about par for the course I guess.


According to Las Lenas website, the weather got worse for his last day today, as Vulcano was also closed.
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Days in one year: 80 from Nov. 29, 2010 - Nov. 17, 2011
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Re: Las Lenas, Aug. 8-21, 2009 by Adam

Postby Patrick » Sun Aug 23, 2009 10:58 pm

Doesn't look good, in fact, it's looks terrible. ](*,) Where is Chris when he was wondering why I didn't go to Las Lenas. The place looks amazing on paper, however the lifts (especially Marte) are totally unreliable. ](*,) ](*,) ](*,) And don't tell me that all places have lift issues. Marte is central to the LL experience.

Post by Enlosandes on TGR:

Marte ChairLift
Marte ChairLift will remain closed until further notice

We would like to inform all tourists and freeriders, that Marte ChairLift will remain closed until further notice.
Precently we are proceeding with maintenance work since the last snowfall levels affected the Tower 6 fundations.

Thank you for you cooperation. and please accept our apologies for any inconvenience caused.

Valle de Las Leñas Managment


Hopefully people are wrong and Marte will run again this season...like in 8-14 days. [-o< But I'm not very hopefull that it will happen. Damn...
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Re: Las Lenas, Aug. 8-22, 2009 by Adam

Postby Tony Crocker » Mon Aug 24, 2009 1:07 pm

I picked up Adam this morning and heard about a possible Tower 6 foundation crack. Which if true would probably mean Marte is done for the season. A fair amount of info here http://www.tetongravity.com/forums/show ... 74&page=23 , which Patrick is also monitoring.

A few more LL management tidbits from Adam:
Marte is uninsured. After one of the prior mishaps management did the repair themselves rather than call in Dopplemayer. When I noted that Vulcano had been closed a couple of days, Adam said that LL policy is not to open it until they can get a groomer up to the top of it.

Summary of Adam's time: Marte was open the first 4 days. In-bounds snow was variable, so he did a few hikes up the ridge in back towards the Chilean border. Snow preserves very well up there. He's disappointed he didn't get a shot at Entre Rios, the largest peak back there, about 2,000 vertical. Middle of the trip was the huge dump; we haven't discussed how much if any skiing could be done then. But during those kind of storms you can't ski anywhere in SA. Late last week good powder on/above Caris and from Vulcano when open. Thursday is the only day weather would have been good enough for Marte that it was closed for the mechanical breakdown.

Also another favorable review for the Dakine pack we got from admin in March. Adam did 5 hikes with it, very comfortable and secured the skis well. It's a bit large for pure resort skiing, but for sidecountry mix an excellent pack. And it also served me well on Mt. Fuji. Many thanks again!

Advice for Patrick:
1) Try to have some AT gear if you don't already. Adam bought a used pair of Marker Dukes from another US skier in LL, which he plans to mount on his Gotamas, following the admin plan of having AT bindings on his most commonly used ski.
2) Nothing I've read about Los Penitentes suggests that it's a multiday destination. One website commented on "good skiing, especially for beginners and intermediates." And there's this warning from http://www.southamericaski.com/view.asp?p=638
the snow at Los Penitentes is often thin even when Las Leñas and Portillo have good coverage.

Not surprising since it's in the shadow of Aconcagua. Maybe the recent storm was big enough to cover it, but good luck finding any timely direct info or reports. Perhaps Patrick should try to get a couple of nights at the Inca Lodge in Portillo before going into Argentina. Portillo's snow quality rates to be good now, and Portillo has American management.

I do get some impression that the Las Lenas management situation is getting worse over the years. I put in a call to Extremely Canadian; I'll be interested in their take as during the last prolonged Marte closure in July 2006.
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Re: Las Lenas, Aug. 8-22, 2009 by Adam

Postby Patrick » Mon Aug 24, 2009 2:43 pm

Tony Crocker wrote:which Patrick is also monitoring.


That's why I'm pissed.

Tony Crocker wrote:Advice for Patrick:
1) Try to have some AT gear if you don't already.


Bringing two pairs. The B3 Rossi/Naxo binding broke in early June. It was replaced, but I'm not trusting it at 100%. It initially broke after 8 days and I've read some bad stuff on Naxos since then.

Tony Crocker wrote:2) Nothing I've read about Los Penitentes suggests that it's a multiday destination. One website commented on "good skiing, especially for beginners and intermediates." And there's this warning from
the snow at Los Penitentes is often thin even when Las Leñas and Portillo have good coverage.

Not surprising since it's in the shadow of Aconcagua. Maybe the recent storm was big enough to cover it, but good luck finding any timely direct info or reports. Perhaps Patrick should try to get a couple of nights at the Inca Lodge in Portillo before going into Argentina. Portillo's snow quality rates to be good now, and Portillo has American management.


I've heard some good things by a couple of French Freeskiers last year plus based on someone on Skipass (French ski forum), the area might pull a Whitetooth next year....so I'm curious. Funny how the dynamic in ski destinations are different between NA skiers and French Alps skiers.

I'm not planning more than 2 days at LP anyhow. Heard the conditions were good now, but I've also read some negative stuff on conditions in the past. Vallecitos is a much more remote chance, although the inbound is far from good. Plus it had zero snow last month regardless of it's 3000 meters base status. Out of the way areas, I'm looking at Cavenhuia for maybe 1 day. A full day at La Parva, would maybe like to get a second look at this place before I head over the Andes? Not sure now if I can modify my reservation for the place I found in LL. Happy I only booked for 6 nights, I make it to LL, not sure how many days I'll stay there. Spend more time in Buenos Aires? I need to think about it, I'll be in SA by next weekend.

About Portillo, the last I heard was the lake wasn't frozen + I don't have a great desire right now in returning. I'd rather go off and explore.
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Re: Las Lenas, Aug. 8-22, 2009 by Adam

Postby Tony Crocker » Mon Aug 24, 2009 4:06 pm

I don't think the lake at Portillo is frozen either. But the Roca Jack side should have much more skiing than when we were there. I can't imagine why you would go back to La Parva instead of Portillo. Portillo is on the way where you're going. La Parva would be the tedious daytrip from Santiago on a snail-like bus. Portillo gets more snow, less wind, and then there's terrain quality and management.

I will ask Adam a few more questions tonight, mainly on how he would rate Las Lenas without Marte vs. the other places. Probably somewhat dependent on fitness for hiking. The salida-types would probably be fairly happy with Las Lenas as long as snow quality held up.

I'm now recalling that Patrick had a very abbreviated partial day at La Parva in 2007, while Adam and I got to survey it fairly well for about 17K. It's a bit larger and more interesting than Valle Nevado IMHO, but faces mostly west and thus quite wind-exposed. We didn't get to ski the long verticals farther out the Roca Jack traverse in 2007 either. If I were Patrick, I'd be more excited about skiing those than what he missed at La Parva.
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Re: Las Lenas, Aug. 8-22, 2009 by Adam

Postby Patrick » Mon Aug 24, 2009 4:28 pm

Tony Crocker wrote:I'm now recalling that Patrick had a very abbreviated partial day at La Parva in 2007(...) It's a bit larger and more interesting than Valle Nevado IMHO, but faces mostly west and thus quite wind-exposed.

That was my impression plus there is some slackcountry stuff. I just need to confirm it one day, maybe not this year.

Tony Crocker wrote:We didn't get to ski the long verticals farther out the Roca Jack traverse in 2007 either. If I were Patrick, I'd be more excited about skiing those than what he missed at La Parva.


I traversed two(?) chutes to the left on my first day, however connection and picking up buses from Portillo are a bit of a pain. There are frequent buses from Los Penitentes and Mendoza, so If I manage to get off the bus, I would be less of a pain to get out of there.

Cavenhuia is somewhat intriging, Q skied there (See Ski area Count discussion). :shock: Vallecitos is just ... just there and need some potential good thing about the backcountry. I'm curious, although I have no expectation regarding the on-piste skiing that might be had, scenary is a whole different matter.
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Re: Las Lenas, Aug. 8-22, 2009 by Adam

Postby Tony Crocker » Mon Aug 24, 2009 11:59 pm

Caviahue might be an interesting place, but it's remote even by Las Lenas standards. http://www.southamericaski.com/view.asp?p=151 By Patrick (meaning slow public bus) transport, how many days will be chewed up just getting there and back?

Funny how the dynamic in ski destinations are different between NA skiers and French Alps skiers.

It's probably my dynamic. The bottom line is snow. If there isn't enough it doesn't matter how good the terrain, scenery etc. are. South America snowfall is very volatile. For Patrick's late August/September time frame Portillo and Las Lenas rate to be the most reliable. I'm willing to believe by geography and latitude that Chillan gets more snow, but at its altitude I'm sure the odds for good conditions are better a few weeks earlier in the season. The French Alps do have a somewhat similar profile in terms of snowfall averages and volatility as Portillo/Las Lenas. But snow preservation is probably quite a bit better at the higher latitude.

Not much to add from Adam. He thinks some extra time in Chile might be worthwhile if you know Marte will be down the whole time. But his bottom line attitude is that Las Lenas is the best; he wished he'd been in better shape to do more of the hikes.
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Re: Las Lenas, Aug. 8-22, 2009 by Adam

Postby Patrick » Tue Aug 25, 2009 7:49 am

Tony Crocker wrote:Caviahue might be an interesting place, but it's remote even by Las Lenas standards. By Patrick (meaning slow public bus) transport, how many days will be chewed up just getting there and back?


Just thinking of my options. Caviahue is on the northern edge of the Lake District areas. I didn't see enough info for me to considering a detour that way last year. I need to take a long bus ride from the Andes to Buenos Aires at the end of this trip. Caviahue is roughtly 8 hours away from Las Lenas and 3-4 hrs from Neuquen which is a huge city and transportation hub at the same latitude, but East.

I was bang on on transportation this year. If I wanted to, I could have skied every day expect the first day transfert from Santiago (landing in mid-morning) and on the trip toward Buenos Aires. The schedules were perfect. Still undecided on what I'll do. Odds are that I'll keep my original plan regardless of the status of Marte. I've travelled 5600km in the last two weeks and to tell you the truth, I was looking forward into not moving so much this year. :lol:


Tony Crocker wrote:
Funny how the dynamic in ski destinations are different between NA skiers and French Alps skiers.

It's probably my dynamic. The bottom line is snow.

No, not just you, most NA skiers mainly focus on the Santiago areas (incl Portilllo) and Las Lenas. French skiers are more spread out and in proportion of non-SA skiers, I found their numbers were greater at Termas, Pucon and the other Patagonia areas. Maybe it's flight access from Europe that makes it easier to reach Argentina than Santiago, I don't know? There is maybe a possible better knowledge of Spanish?

Tony Crocker wrote:But his bottom line attitude is that Las Lenas is the best; he wished he'd been in better shape to do more of the hikes.

More time in Chile? Maybe, but unlike Adam, I've only booked 6 nights in LL, so I'll have to choose.

The best even when Marte is down? If you include hiking areas around some places, they can be pretty amazing. That being said, I'm not necessarly the best person shape wise to take advantage of it. That the type of stuff you don't want to do solo, I wouldn't be able to keep up if I wasn't. :lol: :oops:
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Re: Las Lenas, Aug. 8-22, 2009 by Adam

Postby Tony Crocker » Tue Aug 25, 2009 11:41 am

Adam was somewhat slow on the hikes, but the people he was with were mostly from Utah, Colorado and Tahoe. Just to be clear, he would not recommend going to Las Lenas from North America knowing that Marte was down. But if you were already committed, how much should you try to modify the itinerary? In his opinion, a little but not a lot. Pretty much in line with Patrick's plans.

Adam also commented that some people he met there were on longer trips that would include time in Bariloche. Until the Marte accident most of those people were arranging to stay longer in Las Lenas due to marginal conditions at Catedral. The likely extended closure of Marte was just becoming known when Adam left, so he's not sure how many people are trying to bail out now.

Regardless of conditions, Bariloche will likely retain its prominent position in SA skiing since it's the only real resort town. This may have something to do with more Europeans being there than Portillo/VN/Las Lenas. I realize Patrick was talking mainly about the off-the-beaten-track areas. A bit surprising, because the stereotype (as mentioned by our NASJA hosts in Chamonix) is that French tourists are less likely than Americans, Brits and Germans to be found in such places, unless French is the native language.
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Re: Las Lenas, Aug. 8-22, 2009 by Adam

Postby Patrick » Tue Aug 25, 2009 2:41 pm

Tony Crocker wrote:Adam was somewhat slow on the hikes, but the people he was with were mostly from Utah, Colorado and Tahoe.

I'm slow on hike with people from Quebec and New England. :lol:

Tony Crocker wrote:In his opinion, a little but not a lot. Pretty much in line with Patrick's plans.


Heard from the French perspective...Stay North or go extreme south....to Cerro Castor.

Tony Crocker wrote:The likely extended closure of Marte was just becoming known when Adam left, so he's not sure how many people are trying to bail out now.


I'll get a first hand account of it. :roll: Plus I'll be able to compare Las Lenas minus Marte versus other SA ski areas I've seen. Curious how it holds up...however I would prefer not be able to compare at all. ](*,)


Tony Crocker wrote:Regardless of conditions, Bariloche will likely retain its prominent position in SA skiing since it's the only real resort town. This may have something to do with more Europeans being there than Portillo/VN/Las Lenas. I realize Patrick was talking mainly about the off-the-beaten-track areas. A bit surprising, because the stereotype (as mentioned by our NASJA hosts in Chamonix) is that French tourists are less likely than Americans, Brits and Germans to be found in such places, unless French is the native language.


Being married with someone from France, I can tell you a few things and stereotypes.

Skiing in Europe: many French Marcs in France. Why ski elsewhere when we have the best skiing here at home. (it can be a language thing also. Found I've spoken to a few Brits skiers that prefered heading to Western Canada (US too I presume) and New England/Quebec due to language - but they generally have to travel to ski anyways...so the Alps or NA. There is a huge difference between the average French that ski once week a year versus French skiers living in the Alps. The French clearly outnumered NAmericans in Termas, Pucon and La Hoya.

The overall impression that the typical French tourist (regardless of skiing) is more likely to spend time in their country or come to Quebec is probably correct. However they is also a number of them that are fascinated with the US.
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