BAROLICHE 2017 – WEEK 1
Welcome to South America!
Peak Leaders are back with one of the world’s most unique ski instructor courses – 9 weeks in Bariloche, Argentina!
Whether it’s the incredible skiing terrain on the mountain Cerro Catedral, the famous nightlife in the lakeside town of Bariloche or the amazing off-mountain adventures only available here in South America like horse-riding with local gauchos – this course has it all!
This year we have a lovely group of focussed trainee instructors, primarily from Europe. Everyone has chosen to come here to gain BASI Alpine Level 1 and 2 qualifications and most are super keen to find employment for fast approaching winter season in the northern hemisphere.
Refugio del Lago is where we will call home for the next 9 weeks. The large apartments have jacuzzi baths and offer incredible views across the beautifully peaceful Lago Gutierrez. At 800m above sea level this is an excellent spot close to the resort which provides ample opportunity to relax and rejuvenate in the sunshine after long, tiring days of skiing hard in training.
Cerro Catedral, named for the huge granite spires protruding from the summit, sits at 1050m above sea levels with the summit over 2000m offering insane views over Lago Nahuel Huapi all the way to Chile! There’s no better place to experience the Andes.
Cerro was perfectly prepared for the arrival of Peak Leaders with some huge snowfalls layering the Andean mountain range in fresh fluffy snow. So much of the ‘Oro Blanca’ (literally translated by the locals as ‘white gold’) in fact that the airport had to be closed for a few days for clearance!
We’ve reunited with our good friends out here, Ivan Bonacalza – local legend and former Argentinian Olympic ski racer – and Colo Ziffer – all round mountain man with unrivalled local knowledge. Both have been the rock behind Peak Leaders’ Argentina course for many years, shaping the futures of hundreds of former trainees turned instructors.
Full of excitement, training got off to a great start with trainers Ivan and Jorge. After a couple of days to explore the local area and find their bearings the group are having a blast and seeing real improvements in their skiing even within the first few days.
Sam got to enjoy his birthday in bluebird conditions …. What more can you ask for!?
The first week has been full of learning and setting the pace for the next two months. During the week we’ve spent a lot of time training on the mountain (almost first lift to last lift) with sessions in the evenings for first aid, Spanish lessons and fitness.
The fitness sessions with Ayelen are a great way of keeping the body in top condition for performing on the mountain. Some of the guys could be described as quicker and fitter than others but we certainly don’t have any slouches! Carolina, Sam, Annie and Cameron have even gone the extra mile (excuse the pun) by running back to the hotel after skiing on Wednesday!
Colo and fellow mountain guide, Craig, delivered an active Avalanche Awareness Course to give the guys a good understanding of how to remain safe in the backcountry and especially how to use essential equipment like transceivers, shovels and probes. We had a rapid time trial test to see which group could find and rescue our ‘victim’ quickest – Rory, Annie, Sam and Ned came out on top with an impressively quick rescue.
Agustina, our Spanish teacher, started the first session with an introduction to really gauge levels. She has her work cut out as some of us have little knowledge of the language while others are quite advanced! Ned’s A-level Spanish skills will see him well in the clubs of Bariloche on a Friday night….
Friday evening (after apres obviously) was the start of the famous Peak Leaders asado (a popular Argentinian BBQ). Carefully prepared steak, cooked to perfection was on the menu alongside red wine, beer, chunky veggies and the delicious local condiment Chimichuri (favourite of #matteonapoli)
With Jack arriving at the weekend to join the group we’ve got off to an excellent start with more training and new adventures to come in week 2. We’ll see the arrival of Irene, the latest addition to the group and head off to explore more of the local area at the weekend. There’s already talk of a road trip….