Celebrando la Tiza
(Embracing the Chalk)
Steep Skiing in Las Leñas
Come the end of a two-month stint in Argentina, there is nothing better than heading to the Northern Andes for the country’s celebrated steep chalk skiing. If the Patagonian rains, winds, and variable weather haven’t beaten you down, forcing an early retirement to the milder weather of the Argentine coast or an early flight home, Las Leñas is undoubtedly the best place to be. With that in mind, my wife and I loaded up our car (with a bit of reluctance, spring was finally in full in Mar del Plata) and started the 16-hour drive across the famous pampas and into the high desert of La Provincia de Mendoza.
It doesn’t take much to convince me to go skiing. 16 hours in a car? Whatever. Winter-chasers relish these moments.
Mates in hand we hit the road, completing the journey in about 16 hours and 30 mates later. High on life and caffeine, we took in the incredible landscape of the Argentina Pampas along the way. It’s basically Kansas out here, really exciting stuff.
After four straight years going to Las Leñas, it certainly felt great to be headed back to familiar territory. Although there wasn’t snow in the forecast, coverage looked good and I knew we’d have a couple awesome weeks in the mountains.
Rising up the famous Marte Chair, you access all the classic lines Las Leñas has to offer. Several 2,000 or more vertical foot couloirs take you right back to the base of the chair. The skiing is excellent. Prefer to dig a little deeper? Head out to Torrecillas, Cerro Martin or Entre Rios for some 2-3 hr laps amongst the spires, screw, fossils, and other incredible geological formations of the Northern Andes.
After a couple great days lapping the off-piste terrain accessible off the Marte chair, sipping Quilmes bottles and getting back into the swing of things, I linked up with Jeff Cricco, Johnny Lyons, Dorian Densmore and friends for some laps up high. Conditions were celebrated. Las Leñas is known for its incredible chalk skiing. If there isn’t any powder it’s still nice to get out, get up high and move amongst the incredible terrain.
All and all a great trip! Las Leñas always gives back. Patagonia may hold the key to the Argentine powder factory, but when consistent conditions count, pulling the trigger on a trip to Las Leñas never disappoints.