Words by Brody Leven
Photos by Robin Hill & Brody Leven
I like to chase winter.
Like many of our fellow skiers, I’ve spent my summers water ramping in Ohio and New York, hitting jumps in Whistler, riding park at Hood, outrunning avalanches in Argentina, and hiking chutes in Chile. This summer, I took a journey to South America for a couple of months of being alone. My only plans? Mountains.
I began with a month of mountaineering in the high altitude mountains of the Cordillera Blanca, Peru.
As the world’s tallest continuous mountain range outside of the Himalaya, these peaks don’t have much room for error, little non-glaciated terrain, and even less air to breathe. Crevasses, seracs, and avalanches abounded as I climbed solo, surrounded by cloud-piercing peaks.
I followed the mountaineering with some rock climbing in Peruvian foothills, and briefly made my way across the country to Machu Picchu.
After enjoying an incredible trip to the remote Incan empire, I made the long journey back to Chile to retrieve my ski gear from the airline company’s broom closet, meet up with my buddy Robin, and start shredding.
We started by quickly moving into our newly-found home, The Rock.
Quickly, the fun began.
When conditions weren’t ideal for backcountry skiing or ski mountaineering, Cristian at Valle Nevado hooked us up with the chance to ride some great inbounds and slackcountry terrain.
Rumor spread that a storm was brewing in Western Argentina, so we hitchhiked home from The Rock and rode the first 24-hour bus straight to Las Leñas, Argentina. Las Leñas is the same mountain I rode last summer. It simply offers the best skiing in the Southern Hemisphere. Thanks to Manu at Las Leñas for helping us out yet again.
There, we lived in our comfortable, warm, and spacious home: The Snow Palace.
It’s incredibly difficult to articulate the emotions that dig so deeply when doing what we love most—skiing—on mountains that force “that was the best run of my life” to helplessly blurt out of my mouth at the base of each run. Lines that commonly exceed 3000 vertical feet are easily deemed worthy of long hikes, often demanding all-day climbs for a single, magical, life-changing descent.
Yes, those tracks are ours.
After the Argentine storm ended, we moved back to Chile to ski for the rest of the trip. I think we only rode 5 days inbounds all summer.
Before the trip ended, we got well-needed haircuts in the city.
Before being called “the english yeti” by our hairdresser.
After our $1.20 haircut, with a different snack.
We even got a couple days of South American “surfing” in during the trip.
As always, my sincere appreciation goes out to Line, Full Tilt, Smith, Skullcandy, Orage, & The Canyons for the helpful assistance.
Okay. Now go skiing.
Oh yeah. We returned to the U.S. and instantly traveled to Wyoming to climb an infamous alpine route on the Grand Teton, too...
photo: Robin Hill
You can scope photos from this trip among others here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/14117542@N08/collections/72157622372043976/