If you missed it, read Part 1 here.
It only took one day riding at Cerro Catedral Bariloche to realize this place was like nowhere I’d ever been before. I mean, I’m a pretty badass snowboarder, totally been there, done that, but this place was something else. For part two of my tale, I won’t bore you with a break down of each an every day, rather a few specific examples of how incredible it really was.
Just a buncha babes, riding pow.
I’m definitely not 21 anymore, so going snowboarding can sometimes make me feel a bit old, not just because everywhere hurts and it takes forever to warm up. But at SGT’s adult session, I was pleasantly surprised to find the other “campers” in attendance ranged in age from mid 20’s to 50’s. Almost all were from North America, and a surprisingly large number were female. (It probably didn’t hurt the female ratio that it was the Roxy session, and many of the girls who’d come for the previous session we’re forced to extend their stays due to Hurricane Irene and civil unrest in Chile.)
Roxy Chicas Erin Comstock and Robin Van Gyn
As far as “sweet pros” went, Robin van Gyn and Erin Comstock were the guest coaches, and Laura Hadar also randomly turned up. Hadar was down on her own accord, filming with Austin Will for what will potentially be an incredible project, and staying with some guy they’d met on couchsurfing.org. Every morning we’d meet up at the gondola and break off into groups. And almost every day I found myself riding with a group of girls. Riding with other females is not something I’ve typically gone out of my way to do, but somehow, out of a big group of bitches, there was only one actual bitch, and it was amazing.
For the most part, everyone kept up and no one complained, although there was one time when a camper asked Chris Coulter (our token dude) if we could just cruise groomers for a run. He laughed and just said, “No.”
This is Lower Laguna (two days after the storm). Feel free to start picking out your lines now.
After a slow first morning, things moved a bit faster the next few days in Bariloche. Fast being a relative term because in Argentina, it is customary to rush nothing. They don’t understand lines, opting more to form masses, and there is no urgency to do anything. In other words, it’s a good place to be on vacation. However when a foot of new snow falls, it can be mighty frustrating that the staff of the resort has way more work to do, yet doesn’t get there any earlier.
Being accustomed to the “no friends on a powder day” rush it was strange how slowly things moved the morning of the biggest snowfall. Luckily though, the volcano scared most people away and there were no lift lines. And when there’s new snow at Cerro Catedral, it means party pow laps for SGT all day.
The worst part of being a coach is letting all the stupid campers go first. Chris Coulter.
From the first gondola until well after three we didn’t stop, riding untracked pow every single run. No, seriously. If a spot had been hit, you’d simply traverse a bit further and have it all to yourself. We only got one day of inbounds magic, but at the end of it, I found myself walking at an Argentine pace (read: slow) back to the hotel, so tired I could barely move. Ironically, the days we’d hike require less energy exertion because there was more downtime and less leg burning.
And about the hiking. I don’t hike. Ever. That’s why there are lifts. But in South America, I went for it and you know what? It wasn’t that bad. The Lower Laguna hike, which we did almost every day, got easier and easier, and by the end I could make it to the top without feeling like I was dying. The upper Laguna hike, however, I did once (a requirement for the best view ever) and when Robin asked the next day if I wanted to do it again I literally LOLed. It was worth it that one time though, and I’d like to give a shout out to SGT resident shit-giver David Burg for forcing me to the top.
The view from the top of the world.
With only a few days under my belt, something magical happened. I felt 19 again. I could shred, party and still function. I tried to describe it as a combination of adrenaline, excitement and booze, but Lipton explained to me, no, that’s what fun feels like. To have the most fun though, some life alterations were required. While I’d definitely told someone not to listen to, or follow, Skylar Holgate, I will say he explained the best how the SGT coaches were able to party all night, every night, and then hike and ride pow every day.
Around 7:30 every night, this pool looked much more like sausage stew.
In Argentina, the party starts at 11 pm, at the earliest. So while it was easy to get distracted by après festivities at the base, or the indoor-outdoor heated party pool at Base 41, if you really wanted to do it right, a nap was required from after riding, until dinner at 9 (possibly with a brief wake up for tea time at 5.) Then, if you really wanted to get after it, another hour or so of sleep after dinner and you were ready to hit the bar. A few hours at the bar, and it was time to go to the club, where you would stay until 5 or so. Then it was up at 8 to go snowboarding, which sounds scary, but if you did the napping right, you actually logged a solid 6-7 hours of sleep each day.
Skylar also told me that trying to keep up with the coaches, especially Burnsy, was not a good plan, so I tried to keep it mellow. It was only on my last night in Bariloche I found myself chugging Fernet and cokes until 5 am with Dunfee and Garrett Russell at someone’s birthday party. Considering we had to stop halfway through the cab ride home so that I could puke (luckily they both spoke Spanish to communicate this to the driver) I guess it was pretty impressive that I was up for breakfast at 8 the next day. I hadn’t planned on riding, but everyone convinced me to go check out the Chicas Only contest, the annual event that brings out literally 100s of girls to hit mini park obstacles. I didn’t really ride, but I did maintain my buzz from the previous night at the handy dandy mid mountain lodge. And honestly, it was probably one of the most fun days I had on hill.
Approximately 3 beers deep and still drunk from the night before. Don’t judge. Photo: Ryan Dunfee
My trip was 10 days total, and I think I rode 6 days in a row. I could have ridden one more, but my Achilles tendon felt like someone was shoving knives into it, and there were inexplicable bruises all over my body. I’d gotten epic pow, jumped off stuff, and even hit a park box. I decided to jump back on the 20-hour bus to Buenos Aires. I spent my final night and day in South America drinking with tourists from around the world, mastering the BA public bus, and making friends with someone who may or may not have been a bum. But I think that’s a story for another time and place, so I’ll leave it at this: if you ever get the chance to go snowboarding in South America, do it, duh!
The hobbit trees we’re easily one of my favorite runs. This is the hobbit hut for which they were named.
I would have been so mad at myself if I didn’t get this photo taken.
Definitely not the only one of these…
James Haffner. Photo: Ben Giradi
The mad man that is Skylar Holgate. Photo: Ben Girardi
Randall Stacy. Photo: Ben Girardi
Jumpin’ Jack Hessler. Photo: Ben Girardi
Johnny Aguillera. Phoro: Ben Girardi
*** Special thanks to SASS Global Travel and all the SGT coaches for making this possible. And also thanks to Jared Souney for running the site while I was gone. ***