Patagonia Backcountry Report: Riding a Mini-Avalanche & a Mini-Car on the Last “Powder” Day of the Season

Miles Clark | BackcountryBackcountry | Conditions ReportConditions Report

Report from September 23, 2023

Yesterday, we went for a walk with low expectations.

It has rained and snowed for 2 days then gone clear.

When we get lucky here, a cold clear night can suck the moisture of the snow and make the skiing great.

But the snow was so heavy and wet and foggy saturated here on Friday…

It seemed too much to overcome.

We moseyed out into the backcountry armed to the teeth with spikey things (ice-axe & crampons – still freaked out after our ice encounter last week) while fueled by the unknown and the sense that this was probably our last powder day of the year here.

Skinner. image: snowbrains

When we finally got into the zone, it was clear that there was a 1-inch thick crust on all the snow.

Occasionally, there was a skiff of soft, wind-blown snow on top of the crust but overall things were looking rough.

We some some humans drop in nearby and they appeared to have a pretty good time.

Tiger style. image: snowbrains

Good sign.

I dropped first and as long as the angle was low and the speed was high, the skiing was pretty good.

Then, as the angle increased, I slowed down, and the snow became punchy.

Our lines. image: snowbrains

I didn’t realize how heavy and wet the snow was and despite having no fear of my own sluff, it swept me away.

I wasn’t concerned because there just wasn’t much moveable snow and I hadn’t guessed the sluff would accelerate so quickly.

I was wrong.

Nice turn! image: snowbrains

Only 3 turns into the steeps my sluff caught up to me and since I had no fear of it, I skied right into it.

It was stronger than I’d realized and it scooped me up like a gentle backhoe loader.

I immediately gave in to its powers as the chute was walled and there was nowhere to go.

Ice cream. image: snowbrains

I figured I’d just ride the mini-avalanche to the base of the short chute.

The right wall of the chute has a small weakness in it where one could pull out.

My skis were already pointed right so I decided to dig in and escape the sluffalanche.

Tower shelf. image: snowbrains

It worked and it felt nice to be in control again.

I let the slide zip by and continued on my way, mostly unphased.

There were 2 Argies at the base of the chute when I glided to a stop.

Spikes. image: snowbrains

I yelled out to them “has visto esto!?”

They confirmed that they had indeed seen it and they said the slide was small and was no big deal.

That’s not how it felt to me.

Zig zags. image: snowbrains

I was still a bit hopped up on hormones.

I watched Greggy come down the adjacent chute and execute nearly the exact same maneuver.

He hit the steeps, made 3 turns, got swept up by his sluff, fought out of it, and continued on his way.

Textured. image: snowbrains

We decided we were good for the day and headed home.

While hitchhiking the very first car I put my thumb out to picked me up.

It was Renault 4.

Tower spines. image: snowbrains

Definitely the smallest automobile I’ve ever been in and I used to own a ’65 VW Bug (air-cooled engine).

The ride down the mountain was an absolute hoot.

Gaston and Turbo laughed and caroused their way down the hill with me giggling in the back.

The Renault 4 (Quatrelle). image: snowbrains

I giggled thinking about how this mini-car of the afternoon somewhat matched my mini-avalanche of the morning. 

A fun, goofy, weird last “powder” day of the season.

Tower. image: snowbrains

We only have about 10-days left here and the forecast is revealing that Spring may finally have arrived.

From here we’ll be driving 2,000-miles south to ski deep in Patagonia in places like El Chalten (Fitzroy Towers) before boarding a ship bound for Antarctica where we’ll ski for a week before finally returning home to the US of A in November.

SnowBrains upcoming road trip through deep Patagonia.

We’re gonna do all we can to rest up and prepare for our big trip during the coming week.

Life’s about to get wild!

Thanks, Patagonia!

Miles and vista. image: snowbrains
Lake. image: snowbrains

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