When you travel halfway around the world for some skiing, you never quite know what sort of conditions may await. It was September 5 and we had locked in plans for two weeks in Las Leñas, betting that a low-tide winter would turn around with a big spring storm. Anyone who knows the Andes, and has experienced a “Santa Rosa” storm cycle, knows that winter can arrive late and all at once.
With that in mind, I headed south joined by good friends Gerry Moffatt and Will Wissman. Gerry was just recovering from his second Everest summit in two seasons. During the most recent expedition, he spent 60 days delivering First Ascent’s daily web dispatch. I was quickly sucked into their 60-day sufferfest from the friendly confines of my living room. Will I would consider a more sensible man, who prefers reasonable altitudes and the occasional luxury of lift access skiing.
It was midnight as we unloaded our gear in blizzard conditions. Despite the rude transition for my flip-flop-wearing feet, I knew that our timing could be exceptionally good. It had been snowing for a week straight, and some of our local friends were claiming three meters of new snow had fallen in the high country. With blue skies in the forecast, this looked like the ideal scenario for testing our new First Ascent prototypes in classic winter conditions.
On the second morning, we awoke to that sweet startling sound of explosives – the Las Leñas ski patrol detonating their arsenal atop what I call “the world’s best lift access skiing.” We knew full well it might take a day, two or three for the mountain management to open the upper mountain, but with a team of three in place and three more people arriving the following day, it was looking like we were in for a REAL good time. When you travel to far off places and conditions line up, it’s easy to think you’ve gotten lucky, but the truth is – you have to show up to get lucky.
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