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Triple Down in Las Lenas

After Portillo on we headed to Las Lenas, Argentina on an overnight bus via Mendoza with a quick Asado stop at the parilla (aka BBQ of every cut of beef known to man) next to the Mendoza bus station.

We showed up in Las Lenas at 8am, quickly found Les Manley and Camilla Edwards in the Corbus apartments… or should I say the the "Gringo Ghetto". A quick breakfast and coffee at the Innsbruck and we were on the lifts and headed up the infamous Marte. Good thing it was running cuz the conditions were prime: blue skies, some fresh pow that hadn’t been skied yet and calm wind.

Of course on our first run we bumped into Ryan and Kassie from Team Folsom. The shredding was on! We skied the Las Las Lenas classics day 1: Las Vegas, Franky’s, Human Error and Eduardos. There’s something amazing about crushing 4000ft runs in mid September…with lift access!

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Abraham Jiofre getting some day(s) old pow turns on Torrecillas.

A couple days later Jamie and Lotte hopped on the bus back to Santiago and I was left to fend for myself in the ghetto. After a week of solid skiing and cervezas I needed a day to rest and sleep off a mild cold, so the timing of their departure was pretty much perfect.

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Abe, Tom, Cheryl and Mark getting rowdy for Cheryl’s 58th bday!

My first day skiing by myself I bumped into and unlikely crew. Tom from Hawaii, Mark from Minnesota and Cheryl from Tahoe. They were there to celebrate Cheryl’s 58th birthday in style by crushing 5-6 4000ft runs off the Marte everyday. At the tail end of their trip we bumped into Alaskan by the name of Abe Gioffre. After a few days of that and one final night at club Urban Nites until 4 or 5 am it was time to set our sites on the backcountry.

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Abraham attacking the top of Cerro Martin!

Andre Charland (aka me) chilling with on Torrecilles with Las Lenas peak in the back drop.

Abe and I started out with a modest goal of skiing Cerro Martin, Entre Rios and Torrecilles in a day – even with the help of the lifts that’s a 5000ft day. It was perfect bluebird weather in the afternoon, so even starting to hike at noon to get this done was no problem. All the runs had cold winter snow at the top (just enough to race your sluff) and smooth fast wind-buff at the bottom. I’d call this the classic Las Lenas backcountry triple crown. Finishing the day with a few ice cold Quilmes’ beers on the patio before a great asado back in the gringo ghetto is nothing short of radical! P9183752

We followed that day with a slightly more ambitious goal of climbing and skiing the most aesthetic line in the valley, the couloir Adrenalina. It’s about 6500 feet of elevation gain with a significant sideways commute from the village.

Once past the old farm house though it’s a pretty straight forward climb up the huge gully before hanging a right up a dog leg chute that is all skinnable into a main bowl looker’s right around the ridge from Adrenalina. A short (300ft) boot back and rock scramble led Abe and I to the top of the couloir just 6hrs after leaving Corbus. Booyah!

Abe dropped in first and to our surprise the top chute was cold winter snow, playing in your sluff was just part of the fun in this steep classic couloir. I watched him get safely through the chute then rip the open bowl below before stopping at the top of the gully we’d skinned up. We took a few pics in the canyon while Adrenalina was still in the backdrop before ripping the rest of gully non stop to the farm house. Fast smooth corn and fun little terrain features were on the menu all the way back to the farm house! After a short walk and bus ride we were back at Corbus crushing cold Quilmes beers and feasting on steak at the asado!

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Abe dropping into Couloir Adrenalina.

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Abe shredding the bowl out of Adrenalina.

That night at the Asado Mike Hamilton suggested we ski Las Lenas peak the next day… the true Las Lenas triple crown was brewing.

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We planned to get going a bit earlier, but ended rolling out the door at the crack of 8:30am. Hopped on the bus and moments later we were skinning next to the road from the door step of the Aires hotel. After about an hour of zig zagging on skins, creek crossings and some mild ‘Lenas’ bushwhacking we were on our way up the massive drainage that leads to the bowl sitting under the dramatic anvil shaped Las Lenas peak.

Another couple hours of mellow skinning brought us to a ridge lined with steep couloirs, we through on our crampons for the firm windbuffed snow and started climbing the furthest looker’s right chute. Once we gained the ridge we stopped for lunch sheltered from the wind and enjoyed the magnificent views down the valley. A short traverse to lookers left brought us around the base of the summit and up a finger of snow to about 700ft of the true summit. From there we ditched the skis and scrambled up the scree slope to the summit ridge for a quick photo and peak down the long steep runs to Los Molles. I’ll have to return next year for these!

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Abe, crampons, go!

Then it was go time. Boots tight, clicked in, fire up the helmet-cam and we were shredding the 7000ft descent. It’s kind of a maze from the top, lots of convex chutes that you can’t see the exit of. We thought we were picking the safe one, turns out we got cliffed out on a small ice fall… luckily Abe found a short scree walk into a pencil sized chute that got us out into a huge bowl with big perfectly baked corn walls. We had some amazing big fast turns that led us into a never ending gully… no really… we were skiing in the gully with 50-100ft walls for a few kilometers. Even with the head cam footage sped up it took a while. Luckily this route out allowed us to avoid all but a couple creek crossings that were actually pretty simple to deal with. From the bottom was the regular drill…a short walk back to 1L bottles of ice cold Quilmes to wash down piles grilled carne!

Hope to see you down there next year!

Las Lenas Trip Planning Details

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Abe threading the needle after we got cliffed out!

Youtube Search for Las Lenas Videos from 2009

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  1. forbiddenfruitfarmer

    Thanks for the videos and pics.  I can’t wait to get back down there.  Maybe Sept 2011?  I will probably be looking for chutes on the receding glaciers of Africa.  Maybe I will see some of you at Mt Baker this winter.

  2. AndreCharland

     ya abe! we’ll figure something out for next year for sure. was super rad shreddin with ya! let’s get after it in Revy and then maybe AK first.

  3. akabe

    what up dre. thought i would become a member of your pimp parade. hows BC? cant wait for next september. how can we go bigger than we already did. yeah buddy

  4. macfarbt

    That is some first class CRUSHING.  Full bore BD.

    The sniffly refence of a cold is a bit weak though.  If you’re going to get sick at least go BD and get pnemonia or something.

  5. AndreCharland

     next year buddy. i want to see your shit eating grin there! the brits were quite under represented in Las Lenas this year…as were the Cannucks for that matter.


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