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South America Gear Test with Folsom Custom Skis

October 12th, 2010

Ryan airing at La Hoya

Recently I arrived back from a month long ski adventure traveling through Argentina. The travelers consisted of three Folsom Custom Skis athletes: myself (Ryan Prentice), Mike McCabe and Kasie Stroshin. During the summer months we all reside in various places throughout North America including Whistler, BC, Boulder, Colo., and Portland, Ore., but for a month each year, we all convene in South America to test skis and travel in search of snow.

We all met up in Washington, DC for our trip to Buenos Aires, Argentina. After a couple of hours delayed, too many drinks, and about 11 hours on a plane, we finally landed in Argentina. We stayed the first night in a hotel and met up with a mutual friend and fellow Folsom rider, Jesse Durance. Our tentative plan for the trip was to start off skiing in Las Lenas and follow the snow. After checking current snow conditions and forecasts, we abandoned that plan by risking it and heading south to Bariloche. This may have been the best last minute collective decision of our lives!

Frey Hut

After a 25-hour bus ride we arrived in Bariloche. Without any place to stay we dragged our gear to the first hostel we could find. We were stoked that we had made it to our first destination, found a sweet place to stay, had all of our gear, and nothing but snow was in the forecast.

Not much was open our first day on the mountain as a storm was rolling in. A storm much bigger than

Only hungover Americans would be in sandals this time of year

anyone expected…

For the next couple of days the resort was closed due to high winds and no visibility. We managed to keep ourselves entertained by searching around Bariloche for beer, food, coffee, gypsy trinkets (souvenirs) and parties. We repeated this successful formula for four days.

After the storm passed, the skies opened up and we celebrated by skiing some of the deepest days of our lives. It had snowed almost 4 meters near the top of Catedral!

For the next week we got into a routine of waking up and getting to the resort resort around 10 a.m. then skiing until 5 p.m. The resort doesn’t open until 9:30 a.m. and the crowds don’t show up until mid day, so we had plenty of snow and space to ourselves each day. We did plenty of exploring, got lost a few times and had a blast discovering everything this place had to offer.

We ended up spending a little over 10 days in Bariloche and then it was time to move on. The next day we jumped on the 5-hour bus to Esqual to ski La Hoya.

The forecast for the next week looked great, nothing but sun and low winds. We skied the remainder of the trip at La Hoya and were not disappointed. My friend was right, this place is just like Lenas except on a little smaller scale. Super steep sustained pitches with lots of touring opportunities. We basically had the whole mountain to ourselves and toured all around the area. Most of the work we did involved long hikes on rocky ridges to access the terrain — not much bootpacking or touring, but full on hiking through sharp rocks. All of our boots took a severe beating.

Mike getting the goods

By the end of our trip our gear had been used and abused and still performs exactly like it was new. Dragged through city streets in the snow, rain, mud and grime; thrown into buses, cabs, planes, and trucks; manhandled through customs and slammed through tight hallways; packed full with toxic gear and dirty clothing; and endured violent crashes without the slightest hint of breaking down. If this type of trip doesn’t thoroughly test luggage and packs, I don’t know what would.

I am now sitting back in Portland, Ore., patiently waiting for the snow to fall in the Northern Hemisphere. Reminiscing of my adventure through South America and dreaming of where this new season will take me.

Until next time, Adios!

Group Shot

Thanks to generous support from dedicated companies like Osprey, I am fortunate enough to pursue what I love to do most. For this trip, Osprey was generous enough to outfit Mike and myself with some awesome gear. We each took with us a Kode 30 pack and a Space Station 100 rolling duffel bag. Thanks again to Osprey for helping out on this adventure and to all my sponsors: Folsom Custom Skis, TREW gear outerwear, and Smith Optics and helmets, and Atomic boots.

More pictures from the trip at Folsom’s Flikr.

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