Words and Photos by Lynsey Dyer
Iâ€™ve heard people say you canâ€™t get a segment in Las Lenas. Conditions are just too volatile. Itâ€™s too windy, thereâ€™s too big a chance the Marte lift will break and if the mountain isnâ€™t closed for wind it will be covered in fog so thick, you canâ€™t see your hand in front of your face. Luckily we were betting on the A factor (the Argentine factor) meaning 60 % of the time, everything works perfectly all the time!
After following the weather for weeks and peppering friends all over the southern hemisphere from New Zealand to Chile with questions about what the conditions were REALLY like, we put our bet on Las Lenas. Friends tried to talk us out of it after weeks of being shut down, the famous Marte lift accessing all the goods was rumored to be shut down for the season due to an avalanche earlier in the season and the snow pack was said to be low tide but we booked our tickets anyways.
Five days later we arrived in flip flops to five feet of fresh and news that the Marte chair was running! Iâ€™d had low expectations if any, having been to Lenas plenty of times before and seen the potential but never experiencing good snow on those never ending steeps and coolies. It was like a dream, going to sleep in the summer, waking up to full blower blue bird conditions and not so much as a breath of wind. There was no warm up run to find out if we remembered how to do it. At six we were out the door and by 8 we were skinning. Twelve hours later we had several laps under our belts on some of the greatest snow I may have ever skied and beyond that, conditions were as stable as it gets(Iâ€™d tell u where but then Iâ€™d have to kill you). From there we spent three days exploring new terrain and snow camping out of a cat thanks to Jeff the new local Lenas cat driver straight from Kirkwood, CA, and a push from the resort to begin build a solid cat operation. Little had I ever known that just beyond the windy limits of the resort lay unheard of south facing AK style spines and some of the biggest mountains in the world for as far as the eye could see.
The next 10 days we experienced everything Lenas is known for from pea soup fog so thick you couldnâ€™t see your skis on the snow to 70 mile per hour wind that could rip you off the hill. We made the best of it however, attempted to climb Adrenalina in memory of Billy Pool, got rad shots in the wind, then danced all night long at the UFO and recovered from our hangovers in natural hot springs down valley. Then we broke out wine and set up our tents to camp beneath 16,000 foot peaks in abandoned hotel ruins. Our new friend Jose prepared an authentic Argentine asada and we dined on the greatest lomo (tenderloin) meat Iâ€™ve ever had.
All in all Iâ€™d say if your ever get the chance to experience Las Lenas, take it, and as long as you keep the A-factor in mind, 60 percent of the time youâ€™ll win EVERY TIME.