With a volcano eruption that covered the city of Bariloche, Argentina in ash and closed the airport, the summer season at Cerro Catedral, the home mountain for our friends at SASS Global Travel (SGT) for five years, looked in jeopardy. Ever-changing transportation logistics and a snowpack measuring in the teens only two weeks before SGT's Argentinian opening compounded problems. But when the guides showed up, they found the mountain flush with pow and after a massive civic service effort in which the residents of Bariloche, from shop owners to families with children, cleaned over 800 blocks of ash to beautify the city for the hugely important winter tourist season. The SGT staff breathed a huge sigh of relief and their clients enjoyed another glorious season of sun, snow and skiing. Check out the photos and videos below provided by SGT Director of Communications Ryan Dunfee.
With tourism down 70 percent, SGT reaped the rewards of being one of the only major operations to return to Bariloche in 2011. Riders got their fill of backcountry jumps and skiers found base depths deeper than the banner 2010 summer season in the Laguna sidecountry. Can you say face shots?
Session Two featured the largest backcountry mission in SGT history—20 clients embarked on on a three hour hike to a zone called Little AK, smack in the middle of the Andes. They enjoyed some amazing runs and the speeches at dinner that evening were evidence that it was a moving experience for everyone involved.
A huge storm brought the in-bounds terrain at Cerro Catedral back into play. The clients were able to easily access cliffs, trees and kickers across the mountain. The riders built a jump atop Laguna that featured the most-breathtaking views of the summer with Lake Nahuel Huapi in the background.
SASS Head Coach Andrew Burns celebrated his birthday by building and hitting some huge jumps with the snowboard crew. The week featured some amazing Argentine Asado BBQ that helped to fuel a few backcountry adventures—including one to a favorite zone called Staff Party.
Sessions Five and Six
Session Five clients were lucky enough to piggy back on Session Six because of travel complications due to Hurricane Irene. A three-foot dump made for great cliff drops, pillow lines and plenty of pow. Head Guide Skylar Holgate might've had the best run of the summer season when he dropped a narrow, exposed line with multiple mandatory airs before opening up. Many clients watched on in amazement as Holgate roared down what several locals considered a first descent.
Rainer Benz skis the backcountry during Session Two. Photo Courtesy of SGT.