Patagonia Backcountry Report: “The Southern Drifter”

Miles Clark | | Conditions ReportConditions Report

Report from August 18, 2023

Greggy finally got here yesterday!

He’d been stuck in Santiago, Chile for 12 days due to some paperwork issues with the car he bought.

He’s the man because he got a car that we are gonna drive south to deep Patagonia after ski season here then get on a boat to Antarctica.

Thanks, Greggy!

Yesterday the forecast was mostly cloudy but it looked like there could be a chance for a little sun at some point.

We fully geared up and headed out.

We got lucky and our timing was good.

We got to the top of the zone just as the sun was peeking out a bit.

We were surrounded by cloud and fog and cold.

Not much wind, though, which is weird here.

“The Southern Drifter.” image: snowbrains
“The Southern Drifter.” image: snowbrains

We dropped in between cloud shadows and were treated to terrific snow in a zone close to our hearts.

I went for an old favorite of mine, “The Southern Drifter.”

I named this after my favorite line at Palisades Tahoe, “The Drifter,” which is also one of my hero, Robb Gaffney’s, favorite lines.

“The Southern Drifter,” despite being much smaller than “The Drifter,” possesses the 3 essential “Drifter” factors:

  • A Blind takeoff
  • Drifting from left to right to make the landing
  • A smooth as a baby’s bottom transition upon impact
Skinner. image: snowbrains

It had been a few years since I’d hit “The Southern Drifter.”

Shit, now I think about it, because we weren’t allowed to come to Argentina for 2 years and I didn’t hit it last year, I haven’t hit this line since 2019!


I dropped in scared and hurried by a break in the clouds.

I got a bit lost en route but corrected quickly.

As I came in to the takeoff zone, I realized I hadn’t studied this well enough.

I let me instincts take over but fear slapped me in the face as I closed in on the blind rollover takeoff.

Cirque. image: snowbrains

I froze up and didn’t pop as much as I should have – even though I knew damn well you always pop as hard as you can here.

I floated across space and landed just short of the sweet spot of the transition giving myself a bit a jolt upon impact.

The whole line is extremely filled in right now and the air actually wasn’t very big, thankfully.

Had the line been in lower tide conditions, I might have missed the tranny and took a hard front punch crash.

Greggy & Marina headed up run #2. image: snowbrains

I stayed on my feet and let out many an obnoxious, cathartic hoot.

Greggy and Marina ripped down and thoroughly enjoyed the fresh powder.

We immediately skinned back up a north face ready for more.

As soon as we started skinning the classic westward sunny day Patagonia fog started rolling in.

Greggy “Double Cloud”. image: snowbrains

It overtook us in 5 minutes and shrouded the landscape in rich smelling vapor.

We finished our skin in the shade and waited on top for a break in the gloom that we weren’t confident would come.

During a brief respite, we dropped in.

Greggy and The Nothing. image: snowbrains

It wasn’t long enough and we skied in a gorgeous chute in flat light.

I was beaming.

There have only been 6 good days since I arrived here on July 25 and we only barely squeaked in a run before the sun left us for the day.

Thanks, Patagonia!

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