Thumbs out in the rain, we stand on a muddy avenue just outside of town. Beads of water drip off the brim of my cap, and I think back to our first day in the country.
Our arrival in Buenos Aires is the beginning of my third straight summer of chasing winter to South America. Negotiating the capital city can be a challenge, but encountering the friendly porteños and their vibrant culture keeps me coming back. This is also a very special time for my amigo and business partner Justin, who welcomed his daughter into the world hours before we landed. Her birth is a blessing that I feel will carry us throughout our journeys here. We've come to Argentina for our third year of ski guiding with our company Patagoniaskitours.com. Our objectives for the next six weeks include traversing the country from the shores of Buenos Aires to the snowy peaks of the Andes.
By weeks end, the city had given us an intimate look at her inner beauty. Days and nights fueled by empanadas, carne, vino, and Fernet con Coca left us spinning, and we yearned for freedom of the hills.
Leaving the city after dark makes us feel at ease. Sipping wine on the bus the next day at lunch, we gazed at the miles and miles of untouched land lain out before us. Around the 18 hour mark, we made it from the rolling green hills of La Pampa, to the desert-like Patagonian Steepe, on up through the foothills of the Andes. Arriving in San Carlos de Bariloche on the jagged shores of Lago Nahuel Huapi, we find our way to a hostel on the other side of town. From our door you can see the vast expanse of the lake and the backdrop of rugged peaks and moisture-laden clouds.
Bariloche is idyllic for a mountain guide. Its vibrant outdoor community drives exploration deep into the surrounding terrain. Within the first day, we are back into the rhythm. Local guides and mountain types welcome us and show interest in how we have worked our way into this foreign land. It seems that returning to this enchanted place will become a lifelong endeavor.
"Che, van al Cerro," shouts a friendly voice. I am back in the moment. Our savior, a local instructor named Tomas, invites us into his tiny Suzuki, and we ramble on towards the mountain. Rain soon turns to snow and I am thankful to be here again, another year in the Andes.