Sometimes curiosity gets the best of us. At the very southernmost tip of Argentina, where the Atlantic meets the Pacific, there’s a resort called Cerro Castor. The nearby town Ushuaia overlooks the Beagle Channel, and it’s the last stop before Antarctica. It’s a destination that evokes images of shipwrecks, savage weather, and Ernest Shackleton’s Antarctic expedition. Despite hours of Internet research, we weren’t coming up with much info about the resort; it was built five years ago, has off-piste riding, it’s cold, it gets lots of snow, and the jagged mountains look insane. We sent the word out to find some willing riders to go check it out. It turns out that it takes a special type of rider to man up for a mission to the bottom of the Earth, where getting there is as much of a challenging as riding there. Andrew Crawford dismissed the fact that he’d already spent his whole travel budget for the year, cashing in his frequent flier miles to link together the most sickening series of flights from Kalispell, Montana to Los Angeles; on to Lima, Peru; Santiago, Chile; and Buenos Aires, Argentina; and into Ushuaia, over the course of three days-alone, with an itinerary that would strike fear in the heart of intrepid travelers-only to end up in a frozen town with a loose plan to meet up with photographer and instigator Eric Bergeri, French rider Sylvain Bourbousson, and Marc Frank Montoya. Marco-the man filmers and photographers struggle just to get out of his bed before 10:00 a.m.-caught a flight down from Buenos Aires after getting skunked at the more obvious Argentina resorts. He never confirmed that, yeah, he’d be in Ushuaia. It was more like, “Yeah, dog, I’ll catch up wit’ you down there in, what’s it called, Usha?” Expectations were low for MFM showing up, and his arrival was just one of the stories Andrew Crawford brought back from this trip along with a flood of postcards and some serious jet lag.—Annie Fast
Crawford’s Account Of The Ushuaia Mission
August 19, 2005
“I finally arrived in Ushuaia after three hell days of travel. It’s a fishing town full of shipping barges, boats, houses on stilts, and blizzarding snow. I was so excited Bergeri was at the airport to pick me up.”
August 20, 2005
“We cruised around the barren, freezing town. The arctic ocean winds were so cold, they drove us back inside to the chocolatier (hot chocolate cafes are all over the place) at the hotel. After not hearing from MFM for two weeks, we couldn’t believe it when we found this note on my door back at the hotel: “Marc Frank Foo’!” We were so happy our homey showed. We picked him up from his hotel in a car the size of a refrigerator and moved him into our bunks.”
August 21, 2005
“We finally found the resort after driving past crazy trees and wild horses. It was below zero, windy, icy, and cloudy. We all looked at each other and said, ‘We’re shipwrecked at the bottom of the world.’ But when we got to the top, the clouds broke, and it looked like Switzerland! We hiked up a ridge of cliffs and chutes and dropped off of them to pure ice. It was hard, but we didn’t care ’cause we were in penguin land!”
August 23, 2005
“Today we woke up and it was windy as hell. We said, ‘Bring it on,’ and laced up our gnarly-boots. We rode for an hour then decided to go on a boat ride. We wanted to take a boat to Antarctica, but it cost 800 dollars. So we went out on a local boat tour instead. It was awesome! We saw big-ass sea lions, some penguins’ cousins, and condors. We even got to drive the boat!”
August 25, 2005
“We’ve been getting on the lift at Cerro Castor, no warm-up runs or anything, and hiking out into the backcountry. It’s like being on the moon. The kids in the lodge watch us with binoculars as we build kickers and spin. We come down at the end of the day to defrost in the lodge, and they’ve started calling us Ninjas, I guess ’cause we just disappear off the resort. They’ve never seen anything like it before. It was likke rail riding in Europe ten years ago or something.”
August 26, 2005
“We woke up and like every morning, watched Spanish football: ‘Goallllllaaaaa!’ The local kids are tripping out on us because we show up at the ski lodge in the morning in our bright colors, logos, and with Marco, and it’s like we’re aliens, but they know who we are. One of the kids even has my old pro model that he brought by the hotel for me to sign, but we don’t speak any Spanish-it’s just two Frenchies, English, and Marco’s ebonics.” “The seafood in the restaurants is awesome. We ate in a place called Tenedor Libre, an Argentinian version of all-you-can-eat with a shitload of meat, which is good because there’re no fresh fruits and vegetables here-everything comes from a can.”
August 28, 2005
“We’ve been snowboarding every day. It’s icy, windy, and cold-like negative-ten. The local riders say there’re usually only ten sunny days all season, so we figure, better just charge it. It snows blizzard-style every night, but it’s so windy, it just blows away the snow and turns it into wind-buffed ice.”
August 31, 2005
“I ran out of cash, and I still needed to buy a flight back to Buenos Aires, so I ended up selling my snowboard, some Electric goggles, and a pair of Marco’s size 11 DVS shoes that he left behind just to get home (thanks, Marc), and I got out of there right before another arctic blast. What a trip!”
How far can snowboarding really take you? It took Andrew Crawford to the end of the Earth.
“Ha! Crawf’s got the sickest shot ever today! Soo f-kin’ tight! I was trippin’.”-MFM
Sylvain Bourbousson compensated for the pull of the magnetic south off this drop.
While you were lounging by the pool in the northern hemi, MFM was getting’ the March cover of TWS in the southern.
“This place is nutty! I ain’t seen no penguins yet, though! I needa’ see some wild li’l penguins, foo’!”-MFM
Sylvain Bourbousson earned his pile of meat at the Tenedor after tearing into the Cerro death gap.
“This gully gap had a death wall on the landing. We had to slam on the breaks on the landing or end up smashed into the wall like a mosquito on a windshield.”-Sylvain
Cerro CastorSummit elevation: 1,057 meters
Vertical drop: 772 meters
Number of lifts: 4
Number of runs: 19
Adult ticket price: $85 (Argentine pesos)
Season: July 9-October 16
Weather: Between 5 degrees and -5 Celsius.
Hub: Ushuaia, Argentina
Web site: Cerrocastor.com