Backcountry Tour 2011 Update

Backcountry Tour 2011 Update

The Group Hiking La Laguna
Head Guide, Justin Lozier, leading Edoardo and Filippo up to La Laguna

After waking up to bluebird skies and perfect powder skiing conditions, we headed up to Cerro Catedral to begin a fine day of backcountry freeriding out of the resort. Our two Italian guests, Edoardo and Filippo, were captivated by the natural beauty of the Andes, and they were totally stoked on the terrain. We decided to ski the high south faces of La Laguna where the snow was cold and powdery. Arriving at the summit, we were treated to 360 degree views of Bariloche, Lago Nahuel Huapi, and the Cordillera de Los Andes. Standing atop the ridge, the Italian travelers marveled at the grand scale of our surroundings. After some celebratory high fives, we dropped in and made some great powder turns for the next 500 meters/1650 feet.

Fillipo skiing 'De Leo al Horno'
Filippo skiing 'De Leo al Horno'

The rest of the day consisted of skiing around the periphery of the resort searching for the best snow and simply enjoying the majesty of this place with our new friends.


Edoardo climbing up Punta Princesa
Edoardo performing some technical moves on Punta Princesa

The following day our objective was to hike to a steep south-facing couloir off the top of Punta Princesa, into the Van Titter Valley, behind the Cerro Catedral ski resort. The route finding to the top was interesting, and we encountered some pretty rowdy patches of rock and ice, which added to the excitement of the day. By eleven o’clock we were on top of the saddle and raring to go. A moment of silence ensued as we gazed upon the terrain before us. It was quite the contrast to have beautiful blue skies and pristine white snow laid out in front of our eyes. Looking north, the Puyehue Volcano loomed in the distance, spewing plumes of ash into the atmosphere. The volcano has not affected our tours or daily life in Bariloche, but it is continuing to erupt.

Looking down the couloir
Looking down the couloir

Once we had clicked in, Justin dropped onto the slope and performed a stability evaluation. It was immediately clear that the up slope winds had created a shallow slab, which heightened our level of precaution for the remainder of the tour. The snow in the couloir was variable, but still quite good. We regrouped at the bottom and then skied the massive apron to end of the valley. Along our skin back up to the ridge, we further evaluated the conditions and dug some hasty pits.  Our overall evaluation was that the south faces were generally stable, but that the wind slab on top could pose problems in the future.

It is truly a pleasure to share the Patagonia experience with others, and we will continue our mission of delivering the highest quality adventures for our guests. We are now expecting several days of unsettled weather and some moderate snow accumulations. As we monitor the conditions, our plans will change accordingly. The current plan is to head back into the Van Titter Valley and stay a night or two at Refugio Frey after the storm. After that, we are thinking of heading south to Esquel to scope out some new terrain for future tours. Thanks for checking in and we hope you enjoyed the show.

About Author

<p>Professional Outdoor Guide, specializing in backcountry skiing, heliskiing</p> <p>Stomping grounds: Wasatch Range, Andes Mountains</p>