Our friends Jason Trask and Tyson Crockett adventured down to Argentina last month to spread some Academy propaganda and see what all the hype was about. Immersed in a foreign culture, challenged by local norms, and intrigued by strange possibilities, they found the only certainty in the far off land was their love of snowboarding. Tyson kept a record of the good, the bad, and the spiritual moments along the journey. Check his story and photos below (and don’t forget your dictionary, these guys both have masters degrees). Well done amigos!
Tyson spreading the message from his balcony in Buenos Aires
Tales of Snow & Woe from the Southern Hemisphere
by Tyson Crockett
Upon the conclusion of the marathon flight combined with the absence of North American sensibilities, our journeyman stepped into the foreboding metropolis known as Buenos Aires. This so-called international airport is more than an hour away from the domestic airport and just as far from the Retrio bus terminal. Our man Jason has less then 4 hours to meet up with the crew, leave the airport, and find me at my downtown hotel. The plan dictates we then get on an 18-hour bus to Bariloche.
After waiting for what seemed like several hours for the shred crew to show up, I finally called our handler Tomãs to find out what the scoop was. I am again assured with that classic “slow motion” style that everything is cool and we have plenty of time.
Jason Trask passing some time on the overnight bus
In the week I had previously spent in Buenos Aires doing a good will tour, promoting the legalization of snowboarding, learning dancing customs, setting up off-shore bank accounts, and becoming a political puppeteer I had become accustomed to such punctuality, but I was no less tense about it, mostly because logic decreed that our time window had closed. On the other end of the phone I could make out Jason’s nervous laughter in the background undoubtedly realizing that Buenos Aires itself lives up to the legend. It is an unstoppable sprawling heap of dwellings on top of tiendas on top of dwellings on top of 3 million people.
After a full night of nervous sweating, sketchy-tight passes, upset locals, and Jason calming me down, we arrived at the base of a completely socked in Cerro Catedral mountain. The adventure was on, and both of our consciousness’ began to develop an understanding for what our exploits in Patagonia should be, fun. That axiom was brought to full salute upon meeting Fran (the owner and boss of the hotel). Fran a.k.a. “El Hefe” simply greets all North Americans with the same level of respect and cheerful assault “Hey Bitches”. We knew we had arrived in the right place. Even though we could not see the mountains, our crew had forgotten us, and no one at the hotel seemed to know what was going on. This ambiguity left us uncertain of our conclusion to come down to Argentina. That feeling would remain for almost a week.
During these extended dark times people go into their medicine boxes for relief. For Jason it was the comforts of home: Jon Stewart via the inter-web, precise e-mails to loved ones, planning out strategies required of his day job, and over analysis of life. I, on the other hand, have been into the darkness and have come to embrace the obscurity. I dwell in the mystery and depression, which have become my companions on many lonely nights “on mission”. I quietly think of what is possible and hope that my legs can preform my minds feats. I look for inspiration and without doubt I befriend the local drinking customs. It is at this point we find our heroes deep in the crevasses of another Frenet and cola bender. My roommate the avalanche master, weather enthusiast, and all round bad-ass sends word over a deep pull of vino tinto that tomorrow will be good and there is snow, maybe a lot.
Jason with a BS 7 Japan
We awaken like a 1960’s surf flick to tales that the break is back and it is on. The relatively easy hike to the cusp of Heaven (the Laguna zone) only takes about ten minutes. On the trail map it appears to have lift access. It is true there is a towrope located in the area. However, it is not actually intended to run. Like so many things Argentinian, it doesn’t make sense it is simply tradition. The rope tow takes the rider about 15 feet off the ground during the ascent. Rumor is the last time it was on (some 2-3 years ago) no one could actually hold on to the top.
When arriving at the saddle of the Laguna snowfield we now understand what is possible. The range presents an endless offering of undertakings. The lines here are plentiful and the snow is prefect. I feel as if I am in the deep backcountry, but I can still see the park. It reminds me of so many overheard discussions centering on how this setup would never happen in the states. So true.
Tyson snorkeling his way down a chute
95% of the people (and there are not many) in Laguna are wearing avy-packs and know what they are doing, which means you probably pushed them out of the way to get bacon at breakfast or at least shared drinks the pervious night. Everyone is traumatized with joy as it is now time to get some face shots. This run has it all: open pow fields, cliff drops, tight and steep chutes, epic open trees filled with log rides, bamboo forest, cat track jibs and jumps, back to an almost non-existent lift line. Four to five solid laps left us running to buy more lift tickets.
Those extra lift tickets had us building jumps everywhere. There was the left to right across a wind lip jump which produced some epic chucks including Jason setting down a beautiful back rodeo seven in a bomb hole to tomahawk. The distance gap to cliff drop kicker that featured some classic moves and my innovative jump to back 3-cliff drop attempt which left the gnarliest looks on people faces as then encouraged me to “try it again”. The blind drop around the corner kicker and the cheese wedge step down crafted by the Canadian super builder and style aficionado Andrew Burns. This jump saw all spins and maneuvers including Randall Stacey flying past the landing with huge cab 9 attempts that deserved to be landed. In the end the crew rep’d well and took 1st ,3rd , and 4th at the rip curl pro open later in the week. That combined with the big mountain riding that makes people never go back to the park. The final conclusion is that Patagonia is the bees’ knees!
Tyson self cam
I easily had 3 of my top 5 days ever on this trip. I could divulge more secrets but that would take away from your adventure and I don’t want you to steal my lines. Consequently, if you see me hiking up a ridge, behind a spire, or stumbling out of the bamboo you should probably go the other way because that smile on my face is a lie. If you do decide to go way down South do the following: learn Spanish, be patient, know how to use a beacon, eat all the vegetables you can before you go, and bring an extension for your powder snorkel.
Special Thanks: Nicki Slechta, Chris Coulter, Andrew Burns, Jon Conway, Lucas and Travis Moore, Skylar Holgate, Ryan Dunfee, David Berg, Travis Fiest, Benji Girardi, The girls in the kitchen, Jackson’s Bar, Mute, and El Hefe.