Patagonia Backcountry Report: Alaska? Nope… Spines, Chutes, & Fingers in Epic Patagonian Snow

Miles Clark | | Conditions ReportConditions Report

Report from September 2, 2023

Yesterday, we got out there early and found rained-on snow and some high-density, delicious cream cheese in the trees on a blustery, cloudy day.

Today it went full blue.

We expected the typical, wind-pressed, dense, “carton” (cardboard) as they call it here.

As we climbed up we started noticing sparkling snow (preserved stellar dendrite – not normal here as they’ve usually been windy blasted to bits).

We we ascended it was clear that the snow was poofy, powdery, and good.

We changed course for Anubis Rock Chute – the scariest chute we ski here.

We figured it’d be one helluva lot less scary in these luxuriant conditions.

The thing is about 50º at the top and intimidating as hell.

You drop into the steeps, hack in a few no-fall zone turns in the funnel, then point it through the choke, avoid hitting the rock wall, blast out a monster speed-check turn to the right, arc onto the curtain, small air, get your speed back in control, rip right onto the wind spine, one, two, three, four, five turns on the spine then woosh off the rock air at the bottom.

From there you choose to keep rummaging through another 1,000-vertical-feet to the basin or cut right, stay high and get up onto your next objective.

The 50º funnel felt avalanchey today.

I stomped around and tried to get something to happen.


I felt good about it but my fear of sluff was overriding.

Instead of hacking 5 or 6 turns in the funnel, I made 2 turns, felt my sluff getting wild, and pointed it.

As I straight-lined through the alternate choke (in high snow levels this becomes an option) my sluff was already up in my crevasses.

Sawtooth. image: snowbrains

Even after I gained speed it was bubbling in front of me and felt bizarre as I wobbled over it in a perfect downline line.

The speed check turn was a full-body flex that thankfully worked.

Onto the curtain.

Ice cream. image: snowbrains

The curtain was so filled in it was just a friendly roller.

2 turns on the curtain, no air (buried), and off to the wind spine.

I blindly jumped onto the spine knowing it would be good.

Sluff. image: snowbrains

5 turns on the spine then I popped off the rock at the bottom hoping most the rocks in the landing would be buried.

They were and the landing was butter.

Large roaring sluff.

Ship. image: snowbrains

Burning off speed to the right and feeling the adrenaline rush through my fingers and jaw.

Slight twitch.


Fighter snow. image: snowbrains

That was a hit.

Greggy came down faster than me and didn’t even bother making turns on the spine – he just aired it.

Back up to the mini-spines.

Whip cream. image: snowbrains

They were slathered in magical, sluff-prone snow.

We each chose a mini-spine and got shacked.

From there to the Mega Spine Finger.

Tronador. image: snowbrains

It skied like an absolute dream.

Skiing it last week embedded the moves in my brain and I was able to flow fast and free, keep my speed up, hit more airs, and hit the one bigger air with flow.

We each came firing out the bottom with adrenaline in our veins.

Tracks. image: snowbrains

It took us a while to calm down.

The snow was perfect powder all the way to the valley floor – which never happens here…

We chilled, ate lunch, talked smack, and decided to head home and not push our luck any further.

Lago Nahuel Huapi. image: snowbrains

The temperature had spiked creating a red flag.

Our sluffs were huge on all 3 lines and they were only going to get more complex and dangerous with the heat.

We headed home happy and could not stop recounting specific turns and moments and fears.

This was the best snow I’ve ever had in this zone.

Thanks, Patagonia!


Castle. image: snowbrains
Wind swept. image: snowbrains
Contrasts. image: snowbrains
Wind texture. image: snowbrains
It beautiful here. image: snowbrains
Greggy. image: snowbrains
Miles on the spine. image: snowbrains
Skinner. image: snowbrains
Miles on the finger. image: snowbrains
Finger slash. image: snowbrains
Apres tea. image: snowbrains

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