I settled back to sleep and dreamed of hiking lines and spraying a particular skier. When I woke, I called Travis Moore, Managing Director at SASS Global Travel, the company that has hosted snowboard camps and clinics in Argentina since 2007 and has a Japan trip, a new sled-based operation in Chile and surf camps in Rincon, Puerto Rico. Other companies of this nature exist, and you can certainly try to piece together a South American snowboard trip on your own, but SASS Argentina has everything dialed. They also boast one of the most knowledgeable guiding staffs in all of snowboarding. A bold statement, but their roster includes, Skylar Holgate, Chris Coulter, Andrew Burns, and Robin Van Gyn, all of whom have years of backcountry guiding experience under their respective belts. Olympic gold medalist Kaitlyn Farrington, who has summited almost every ride-able volcano in North America, also hosts her own SASS Argentina Super Session.
With this exceptional cast of guides, many of whom have been affiliated with SASS Argentina since the beginning, I knew that I’d be in for a hell of an adventure.
A week later, I made my way from one country and into the next, and finally touched down in Bariloche. Through broken Spanish and several unnecessary hand motions, I hailed a Remis, an Argentine taxi, and jetted up to the SASS compound conveniently located at the base of Cerro Catedral. I was welcomed with an asado, a traditional Argentine bbq, where cuts of beef smoldered over an open pit flame as a professional asadador (pit master) tended them. The inciting sizzle made my mouth water, so I uncorked a bottle of Malbec and toasted the guides and all those that had made the summer pilgrimage south; we were in Argentina and it was time to snowboard.
That night, we reveled in the moment, shared stories of seasons past, and drank in the delightful obscurities of Argentina. I looked out the wooden windowpane and saw it was puking snow. Flakes the size of chicken feathers lofted from the sky. As the snow continued to pile up, glasses of vino tinto sloshed. I turned to the guides and asked each for highlights from their time spent in Argentina and what draws them back year after year.
Scroll on for their insight into snowboarding in Argentina.
Head Guide: Skylar Holgate
This was my 12th season down in Argentina. It's always fun in Patagonia; you just have to take what the Andes give you. From super wet to freezing cold, it's always changing. Then when it pops blue, you can't beat the views or the pow.
Skylar’s Guide Tips:
A few elements about Argentina that everyone should know: Slow your roll! There is no rush on pow days like there is in North America. The mountains are huge, and there is plenty of snow for everyone. Secondly: Be prepared! The Andes can go from calm and sunny, to as nasty as it gets. You don't want to miss out on an adventure because you got caught off guard by the elements. Also, the nightlife is as rowdy as the shredding, so you can burn yourself out. Make sure to utilize the siesta!
Guide: Andrew Burns
I’ve been coming to Argentina for over a decade and was lucky to get in with the SASS homies the second year they had clients.
Burn’s Guide Tips:
You need be understanding of all the strange shit that happens. It’s just different and might not make any sense at all, like the napkins that are made out of wax paper—why? You just gotta laugh. And it’s the Andes—big gnarly mountains—so the weather can get insane for long periods. You need to be patience and understand that if a crazy storm has the lifts closed, it’s gonna set you up for a two-foot bluebird day that will be one of the best you’ve ever had.
Guide: Chris Coulter
For the past nine seasons, I’ve been coming to ride in Argentina. Seven of those I’ve been with SASS Global Travel.
Chris’s Guide Tips:
Two crucial elements of snowboarding in Argentina: have fun no matter what the conditions are like and dive into the beautiful culture. People are so welcoming and go about life in a different way that in the states—tap into that.
Guide: Robin Van Gyn
The first six years that I was in Argentina were crazy; there was so much snow all the time. Snow all the way to the base, snow in town—it was everywhere. It mellowed out for a few years, but the storms seem to be coming back.
Robin’s Guide Tips:
The amazing thing about the shredding in Argentina is definitely the terrain—the huge spires and rocks make for these super dramatic landscapes. It doesn’t matter if you’re slashing a pow turn or hitting a jump, it all looks so amazing, and snowboarding amongst this scene creates a really unique feeling. Step out of your own life and be accepting of all the things they do in Argentina. It’s not like being in the states or Canada because everything is a bit different. Food is unique, the mountain operates differently, and everything runs just a bit slower. It’s important to keep an open mind, roll with what’s happening, and try to immerse yourself into the culture as much as you can.
I digested each guide’s advice with the last sips of my wine and spent the next seven days slashing pow, hiking lines in a zone known as Laguna, and soaking up the Argentinean snowboard scene. It’s such a delightfully peculiar place, and one that snowboarders should aim to experience. Though I caution, the riding produces a high insatiable by other means.
There may still be time for you sign up and experience it yourself. Scope more about SASS Argentina here
Check out more Southern Hemisphere snowboard stories here