Would you gnaw on freshly torn strips of your best friend’s frozen ass to survive? If you balked for more than ten seconds before answering that question, a trip to Las Leñas may require more commitment than you’re cut out for. Tucked in the Alto Cordillera mountain range that divides Argentina from Chile, the resort is two travel days from anywhere, and only one click away from the notorious Alive plane-crash site. Uncultured? Go rent the video.
“Heli-fied” chutes and muchos natural rollers are what draw the Burton team to Las Leñas for its annual photo shoot. September is the time to show up; it’s comparable to the second half of March in the States-there’s still the chance of a big dump, but spring conditions (mirrored lenses and SPF 45) are the standard.Avalanches can ravage the mountain after big storms, so be prepared-take along the appropriate gear, like a beacon, shovel, probe, and freeride board. You’ll need this stuff even when inbounds because storms can stick around for days and weeks at a time (also pack a good book), and the snowfall they spew is often measured in meters.
Only after a lot of shoveling, or spending some serious money, will you find a park, pipe, or quarterpipe worth riding. But there’s always a dedicated crew of riders to help the dream along. And there’re only a handful of expensive hotels in the village. The Pisces Hotel is where the Burton team hangs. If you’re on a budget, try to set up a condo/apartment beforehand and shop at the mini market in town so you can cook for yourself.
Choose your travel partner/roommate carefully-Las Leñas is way the hell out there and not for those easily made stir-crazy. Patience and positive attitude are a must, and remember to carry a Leatherman with you … ass jerky can be hard to cut.
Average Annual Snowfall: 250 inches
Summit Elevation: 11,253 feet
Vertical Drop: 3,904 feet
Number Of Lifts: Twelve (including five surface lifts)
Shreddable Acres: Imagine Vail and Snowbird combined
Pipes: Kind of
Park: Meager-when it’s not buried
Lights: Beginner run near park
“Las Leñas is a small resort with a huge mountain and insane places to build whatever you need. When we went there for the Burton shoot, we built one of the most fun things I’ve ever hit-a huge backside quarterpipe. There’re lots of good lines that you don’t even need to hike to … the chair brings you right to the top of them.”-Mikey Rencz