Insiders Guide: Summer Snowboarding in South America
Summer is creeping up fast and furious. You probably don’t have your shred plans dialed because you’ve been too busy wasting away, scrolling endless through Instagram. Amidst the partying, food porn, and model shots, a pow pic pops up and you start frothing at the sight of the fluffy stuff. But summer heat is on, and slaughtering fresh snow is pretty much over if you live in the States. Luckily for you, Argentina awaits. Their winter is our summer, so the chance to shred sweet pow is yours and can happen in the next couple months. All you need to do is get your booty down to SASS Argentina, which operates right out of the the base of Cerro Catedral in Barioche, Argentina. SASS Argentina was established in 2004 and is the go-to destination for summer shredding in South America.
Andrew Burns, pro shred and head coach at SASS Argentina, has been snowboarding in Argentina for 11 summers in a row. We reached out to Burns for the inside scoop on all things SASS.
What it is about SASS Argentina that makes you want to be apart of it, year after year?
We are a family, plain and simple. Our staff is the best, our clients are the best, and the locals down here are amazing. I'm fortunate to be apart of this crew, and I love all the people that it has brought into my life! Oh yeah, and POW madness!
Of all the amazing summers you've spent at SASS Argentina and the millions of memories you made, what are two standout moments?
My birthday is in August, so I'm always there and boarding for it. One year, it dumped like 2 feet, no wind, and was full blue on my birthday. We hit two step-downs, two kickers, and a couple cliffs, all in the same day. It was insane. Also, we always manage to have a LOT of fun those B-Day nights!
Frequently we will get a meter of snow at the base, and the whole camp ends up riding gondola laps over and over and over, just drowning in snow. Everyone is loosing their minds-- it's so rad. Even though we have had a lot of those days, they all feel the same: pure bliss.
What's one pro-tip for first-time shredders in South America?
Riding POW in the mountains is difficult because the weather dictates everything. Traveling to a foreign land where they do things differently and speak a different language is also difficult. Come here with an open mind, take in the differences with open arms, and trust that even if it's not perfectly blower and blue bird when you first arrive, we will always ride the best terrain and have the most fun possible for that day. You will have the time of your life, and when those epic days come, you'll lose your mind!
Describe a perfect day at SASS Argentina.
Wake up early, crush POW all day long, hit some apres bevies and snacks and talk about how sick the day was, go hit our heated indoor/outdoor pool, a couple beers and some ping pong, cruise to one of the local breweries, smash steak and wine, hit the casino, hit the club, head back to the hotel for sleep. Repeat as necessary.
How much meat can one expect to eat during SASS Argentina?
Oh damn, Argentina has some of the best beef and Asado (BBQ) in the world! Trust me, I know steak, and you will loose it down here.
Some people aren't into meat... So how much wine can one expect to drink?
The Argentinian Malbec is such a tasty treat, and ridiculously cheap. I think the wine literally flows like water, haha. The Fernet Branca is delicious as well... gotta have it
How much pow can someone expect to slash at Cerro Catedral?
There are rarely pow days when our crews aren't the first people waiting for lifts to open, and after obliterating the on-piste POW (which is ridiculously good), we're opening up fresh terrain non-stop. We shred that goodness until we HAVE to get off the mountain... or until your legs stop working.
Why is Argentina so awesome?
I just love it. Everything I've already said, but more so the people and culture. I feel so welcome here and find the people so nice and interesting, and I have built some very close friendships with a lot of the people down here. They also welcome us and what we do with open arms.
Do everything you can to get down here. The riding and terrain is one thing, but the whole experience of this place will honestly change your life. I couldn't imagine a summer without Argentina. But yeah, the mountains and POW are silly good!
Photos: Ben Girardi