Patagonia is known for it’s big mountains and impressive winds. The mountains attract the skiers and the winds often leave them disappointed. However sometime the weather gods are nice.
Last week I was down in southern patagonia hiking and skiing and continually getting shut down by weather. The forecast for Bariloche was for and impressively cold system for this time of year and a measly 30-40cms over a 3 day period. That was enough for me. I bought a bus ticket to Bariloche and b-lined it for Refugio Frey (there’s no place I’d rather weather out a Patagonian snow storm).
I brought 3-4 days of food up to Frey and did a little snow dance. We got there the night of the the first day of the storm. It had already snowed 30cms. In the next few days the wind switched directions and started blowing out of the East creating the perfect dynamics for an upslope event. Something skiers in Alta, UT, Loveland, CO, Jay Peak, VT, and many other ski areas are familiar with, and know how good the snow can be during a pumping upslope event. The winds were light out of the east for 3 days and nearly another meter of fluffy snow fell much undisturbed by the wind.
If you are familiar with skiing in Patagonia you will know how rare this is. The terrain here is huge, but more often than not the snow is wet, heavily wind affected, or “carton” (the combination of wind and sun affect – similar to wind-board but a bit softer and often a breakable-crust). Getting the chance to ski some big patagonia terrain in deep snow was an amazing experience.
On day 4 I ran out of food and had to buy some great pizzas and pasta dinners at Refugio Frey. On the last night the wind picked up (100kph out of the West again) and in the morning the sun came out in full force. In a matter of hours we went from skiing deep powder to “carton” the first run of the day was nice soft snow and after that the snow turned to mush. Our brief slice of powder heaven in Patagonia was over.