Snowshoeing at Las Pendientes
This sport is all about remote, silent nooks, fresh fallen snow and the wonderful pace of a mountain village in the winter season.
Cerro Chapelco in San Martín de los Andes has several circuits through the forest ideal for snowshoeing on virgin snow. This is a perfect family outing, even for those who have never set foot on a snow track before. As we headed for the woods, we learned they change from day to day according to the weather. Once the last houses had been left behind we continued up the slope towards the upper ridge. We had a superb view of Valle del Águila, Pradera del Puma a little further ahead and Mallín Grande way below. It was not long before we felt absolutely comfortable and focused on enjoying our freedom and the incredible nooks our guides pointed out to us. We could not believe the amount of rabbits and woodpeckers going about their business undisturbed by our presence.
We were in awe of the winter landscape on the road to Las Pendientes. When we reached the base of the mountain 4 wheel drive trucks were waiting for a short but rough ride to our destination, a gated community at a height of 1,400 meters MSL. This harmonious development, its cabins partly hidden among native trees, has a private ski run.
We easily attached the snowshoes to our boots, which would enable us to walk on deep snow without sinking. Taking a look around, we noticed the skiers, snowmobiles and ATVs whizzing past and the snow groomers hard at work to ensure a perfect run. A group of toddlers from the ‘Snow Kindergarten’ gave us a lesson on skiing with no fear and no poles.
As it was midwinter, the trees had shed their leaves. Nevertheless, they were covered in devil’s beard, lichen which only grows in areas with abundant oxygen. The snow covered trees and their guests were such a lovely sight.
We walked on hard snow, which others had trodden on and also on soft, spongy snow. It is difficult to explain how exhilarating it was to step on virgin snow. The sound it makes is different, the light blue in the holes is a different hue. We had a lot of fun, and even laughed at some silly falls. Read complete Outing... Mónica Pons / Gentileza Andes x 3 - Deportes de Montaña
When we reached an igloo, made of snow blocks and walked in, we were told to make ourselves comfortable as we would be having tea. We also had delicious local pastries and chocolate liqueur. A welcome rest, but also a chance to share our feelings after having crossed streams and opened up paths.
It was a quiet descent, with a stop at a viewpoint to see Lake Lácar, impressive even at a distance. As a surprise, we had the chance to try out bum boarding at a special run. Regardless our ages, we all took turns to slide down the slope, uninhibitedly, laughing all the way.
We said goodbye at the foot of the mountain, at the ruka, home of the Curruhuinca Mapuche community but not before having tasted their specialties. We all agreed the outing had been great fun and we had seen beautiful places we would never have spotted without our guides.
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