Las Lenas and 2010 South America Season

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Re: Las Lenas and 2010 South America Season

Postby Staley » Wed Aug 11, 2010 5:44 pm

My completely uneducated thoughts: No Marte for a while.
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Re: Las Lenas and 2010 South America Season

Postby Tony Crocker » Wed Aug 11, 2010 5:55 pm

I'm not in the business of weather forecasting, but any prediction 2 weeks out has a lot of uncertainty IMHO. For what it's worth we've had a very swift transition from significant El Nino in FEB/MAR (+1.383) to significant La Nina in JUN/JUL (-1.166). The La Nina is already at the strength which it averaged during the 2007-08 northern winter. This is not good news for the northern Andes resorts, though with their extreme volatility anything can happen.

Staley wrote:My completely uneducated thoughts: No Marte for a while.

The good news with dry weather is that Marte is open, wind permitting. But yes, a big dump on top of the current snowpack probably means Marte would be closed for several days afterward.
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Re: Las Lenas and 2010 South America Season

Postby soulskier » Fri Aug 13, 2010 11:44 am

Staley wrote:My completely uneducated thoughts: No Marte for a while.


Marte has been open an unusually amount of days this month, around 80%. Very little wind and weather for this time of year.
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Re: Las Lenas and 2010 South America Season

Postby Patrick » Sun Aug 15, 2010 10:39 am

I'm typing this from a Starbuck in the Ski Capital of Ontario!!!

I've been away on vacation on one of the many beautiful spots of Ontario, so I haven't been looking at any of the weather away from Bruce Peninsula and Georgian Bay. My opinion on this SA season was pretty much firmed up 10 days ago.

Tony, I've always waited to the last possible moment to make up a commitment (unless I'm flying on points). North or Southern Hemispheres is no different. The only commitment I've made now was on the continent, the Andes are pretty big and spread out many thousands of kms. Like I mentioned to soulskier off-line, I'll just have to head further South, just hoping I don't end up in Antarctica (not this year, at least).

Family is back, I got to go. I'm back in Ottawa later this week (less than one week before my flights south) where I'll look my destinations more closely.
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Re: Las Lenas and 2010 South America Season

Postby Tony Crocker » Wed Aug 18, 2010 3:27 pm

Patrick wrote:I've always waited to the last possible moment to make up a commitment (unless I'm flying on points)

Yes, but you can pull the plug on a FF award and redeposit the points for a modest fee. Once you've bought a cash ticket, your flexibility is very limited. I do note that it's not easy to get the cheap point awards these days. They want you to use the "standard" awards that cost twice as many FF miles.
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Re: Las Lenas and 2010 South America Season

Postby soulskier » Wed Aug 18, 2010 3:56 pm

Some nice powder today! Didn't do too much for coverage, but made for some fun turns.

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Re: Las Lenas and 2010 South America Season

Postby Mike Bernstein » Sun Aug 22, 2010 12:06 am

Question - why is it that nearly all skiing in South America that I've seen is above treeline? Is the tree line lower in the Andes? I know there's some sub-alpine terrain further to the south near Patagonia, but it seems that the most heralded resorts, which are at similar latitudes as those in North America, are almost entirely above tree line.
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Re: Las Lenas and 2010 South America Season

Postby Tony Crocker » Sun Aug 22, 2010 1:31 pm

I believe the native vegetation in the Southern Hemisphere is tropical in origin and won't grow in the alpine climate zones we ski in northern mountains. New Zealand's tree line is only 3,000 feet and it's a quite temperate climate with no place in the entire country more than 70 miles from the ocean. South Island ski area latitudes are similar to Bachelor or Jackson Hole. Even Australia, with its smaller and less rugged mountains topping out at 7,300 feet, has a tree line at ~6,000 at 37 degrees latitude (same as Mammoth or Telluride).
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Re: Las Lenas and 2010 South America Season

Postby soulskier » Sun Aug 22, 2010 5:34 pm

Mike Bernstein wrote:Question - why is it that nearly all skiing in South America that I've seen is above treeline? Is the tree line lower in the Andes? I know there's some sub-alpine terrain further to the south near Patagonia, but it seems that the most heralded resorts, which are at similar latitudes as those in North America, are almost entirely above tree line.


In the big Andes, from Las Leñas north, there are no trees, mostly because it is arid with huge wind. It is similar to the Eastern Sierra in a lot of ways, only bigger and minus the trees. BTW, the latitude of Las Leñas is comparable to Taos.
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Re: Las Lenas and 2010 South America Season

Postby Tony Crocker » Sun Aug 22, 2010 11:14 pm

soulskier wrote:the latitude of Las Leñas is comparable to Taos

Yes, and the tree line at Taos is over 11,000 feet and nearly 12,000 a bit farther south at Santa Fe. New Mexico is not exactly a rainforest, so it has to be mostly the different native vegetation.

Impact of wind is modest, maybe 1,000 or 2,000 max. The Sierra is a good example with Squaw/Alpine on the windy Sierra Crest, but a higher tree line at Heavenly and Northstar. And even there it's not all wind, some of the difference is due to the much higher snowfall on the Sierra Crest.

Snowfall volatility, clear spring days with freezing nights for optimal corn formation in the northern Andes ski areas are very similar to the Eastern Sierra.
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Re: Las Lenas and 2010 South America Season

Postby soulskier » Fri Aug 27, 2010 8:23 am

Tony Crocker wrote:
soulskier wrote:the latitude of Las Leñas is comparable to Taos

Yes, and the tree line at Taos is over 11,000 feet and nearly 12,000 a bit farther south at Santa Fe. New Mexico is not exactly a rainforest, so it has to be mostly the different native vegetation.

Impact of wind is modest, maybe 1,000 or 2,000 max. The Sierra is a good example with Squaw/Alpine on the windy Sierra Crest, but a higher tree line at Heavenly and Northstar. And even there it's not all wind, some of the difference is due to the much higher snowfall on the Sierra Crest.

Snowfall volatility, clear spring days with freezing nights for optimal corn formation in the northern Andes ski areas are very similar to the Eastern Sierra.


After spending 3 full seasons in Las Leñas, I can safely say the wind in these parts is far stronger and more frequent than anywhere in the Sierras. I would respectfully disagree that it's impact is only modest, it howls here almost non-stop year round.
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Re: Las Lenas and 2010 South America Season

Postby Tony Crocker » Fri Aug 27, 2010 12:43 pm

soulskier wrote:I can safely say the wind in these parts is far stronger and more frequent than anywhere in the Sierras.

You might want to spend some more time at Mammoth before making that generalization. :lol:

The mountain topography and prevailing wind direction are also important. For various reasons discussed before, Mammoth's wind contributes as many positives as negative to the ski experience there. I've also noted the difference in Alberta, where the wind is more a detriment at Sunshine while being more of a positive at Castle Mt. due to windward vs. leeward exposure.

Logically most of the slopes at Las Lenas should be leeward of a typical west-to-east flow. However, Extremely Canadian guide Joe Lammers told us that the wind there was very unpredictable in terms of direction. After every storm you need to get out and figure out where the snow got deposited. I was there in a high snow year 2005 and did not see the big cornices typical at places like Mammoth. Joe said that was due to it not blowing consistently in the same direction.

What I saw in Chile looked more like prevailing wind effect. La Parva showed much evidence of direct wind exposure while a few parts of Valle Nevado and the backside of El Colorado look like they get more wind deposition. Portillo did not show much evidence of wind effect when I was there although I'm sure there are storms where it gets plenty.
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Re: Las Lenas and 2010 South America Season

Postby soulskier » Fri Aug 27, 2010 3:29 pm

Tony Crocker wrote:
soulskier wrote:I can safely say the wind in these parts is far stronger and more frequent than anywhere in the Sierras.

You might want to spend some more time at Mammoth before making that generalization. :lol:



Tony, do I need to send you my resume? I spent 18 years in the Sierras before relocating to the Andes. I grew up skiing Mammoth. And I have skied over 75 peaks from Lone Pine to Bridgeport, in the Eastern Sierra. So it isn't a generalization.

Here's one from today.
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Re: Las Lenas and 2010 South America Season

Postby soulskier » Sun Aug 29, 2010 6:47 am

Here is my favorite wind photo of Cerro Horqueta. The Peak is almost 7,000 vertical feet above the valley floor and Los Molles. This was taken during a cloud-less day and in the middle of a week long wind event of epic proportions.

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Re: Las Lenas and 2010 South America Season

Postby Patrick » Sun Aug 29, 2010 5:00 pm

soulskier wrote:
Tony Crocker wrote:
soulskier wrote:I can safely say the wind in these parts is far stronger and more frequent than anywhere in the Sierras.

You might want to spend some more time at Mammoth before making that generalization. :lol:



Tony, do I need to send you my resume? I spent 18 years in the Sierras before relocating to the Andes. I grew up skiing Mammoth. And I have skied over 75 peaks from Lone Pine to Bridgeport, in the Eastern Sierra. So it isn't a generalization.


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Don't worry, I return a discussion a while ago where Tony was the only one versus very one else including Admin on Eastern Spring Snow. Again Tony, you can't win here. I would take Soul word based on his experience.
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