Summer snowboard camp: SASS Argentina
Some people take vacations. Some people travel. Some people travel with a purpose. If that purpose is to crush as much pow as possible in diverse and challenging terrain while pushing your riding to new levels, then SASS Global Travel’s big mountain backcountry program based at Catedral Alta Patagonia in Bariloche, Argentina is the best way to make it happen.
Deep snow in the middle of August is a concept usually reserved for day dreaming, but the mountains that surround Bariloche can easily turn it into a reality. The Southern Hemisphere gives travelers the opportunity to experience full-on winter conditions in truly epic terrain.
Granite spires rise up from the peaks creating couloirs that deposit you into open alpine bowls. Cliffs and pillows are scattered throughout making it a veritable playground. 2,000 vertical feet later, the perfectly spaced trees provide steep untouched turns through what seems to be an enchanted forrest before popping you out at the base of Catedral, South America’s largest ski resort. You are now 100 yards from the hotel compound that SASS Global Travel rents out for their entire crew.
Catedral lends itself perfectly to the SASS Argentina program. The diversity of terrain means that when the weather is clear there are plenty of alpine options. When El Nino hits and it snows for a week, the trees are a perfect haven for deep turns and visibility. Access to the goods takes a couple lifts and simple hikes, but does require quite a bit of terrain awareness and backcountry experience. Although all facilities are modern and the quality of the resort is as high as anywhere, there are dangerous differences to be taken into consideration…
Avalanche control work is rare. There are no backcountry gates. Boundaries and hazards may not be marked. Terrain traps are a-plenty. Exits are hidden. Other riders tend to lack situational awareness. And the snow is copious. As a result, even zones that are “in-bounds” may have serious avalanche potential and proper backcountry protocol is required.
SASS Argentina has been in operation for the past decade. They know this mountain and the surrounding backcountry better than anyone. Instead of wasting your valuable time figuring out where to go and how to get there, their guide staff and crew of pro coaches is there to share their extensive knowledge and put you exactly where you want to be starting day one.
Looking to escape the heat this summer and get back into the whiteroom? Take your riding to the next level and experience Catedral through the more-than-capable hands of the crew at SASS Argentina.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Brushing up on your Spanish isn’t a bad idea either.
Best month to shred: August. En Nino.
Best person to ride With: Skylar Holgate, SASS Lead Guide, over a decade in the Andes.
Best person to build a jump with: Andrew Burns
Best first run on a pow day: Amancay
Best tree run: The Gondie Trees
Best in-bounds run: Nubes
Best backcountry hike: Staff Party
Best run to scare yourself: La Conchita
Best hit run: Laguna
Best bar: Jackson Bar
Best brewery: Cerveceria Gilbert
Best on-mountain food: El Cabo
Best nightlife: La Cantina (The Reggae Bar)
Best hotel: SASS Lodge at SoulMax
Best breakfast: Tage
Best hot tub: SASS Lodge at Soulmax
Best grocery store: Todo
Best pizza: Kiosko del Cerro
Best beef: Alberto’s
Best tune shop: Il Laboratorio
Best night to go out: Any night that its not dumping…
Best secret stash: Ask Fran Huidobro
Website: sassglobaltravel.com/argentina/ – catedralaltapatagonia.com/todo/
Where: 20km SW of San Carlos de Bariloche, Rio Negro, Argentina
Elevation: 7,890 ft
Vertical Drop: 3,773 ft
Acreage: 3,000+ (so much backcountry access)
Lift Tickets: $72 USD
Lift Ticket Discounts: SASS Argentina Program