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Las Lenas Aug.22 - Sept. 5, 2015 - Page 2

post #31 of 37
Thread Starter 

On the map mudfoot posted, Cerro Martin is the peak directly above the words "Valle Hermosa."   It's right in your face as you start on the Apolo trail from the top of Iris poma, so the bootpack up its ridge looker's right is obvious.  Entre Rios is the larger peak directly above the blue "IRIS" and patrol marking on the map.  Getting up Entre Rios is not obvious at all and takes 2.5 hours even for the young and fit.


I wonder which year mudfoot was in Las Lenas given the deep snowpack in his pictures.  In 2005 The Iris poma was buried and not open.  One section of Marte also got buried and took 3 days to excavate.   The last season with above average snowfall was 2006.  2007 and 2009 were about average and all seasons since have been well below average.


I know what a kick-turn is but a 'kick-step'?

I'm guessing a "kick-step" is what I call a diagonal step-up traverse: a traverse that is gradually increasing in altitude rather than being level where you can push yourself along with your poles.  East Castle at Alta is a good example.   I find them extremely exhausting and will take my skis off and bootpack if the diagonal is more than 2-3 minutes.  And if I know I'm going to be doing much of that (the St. Anton guided tour was an example), I bring a backpack that will secure my skis so I can use both poles walking.   The same goes for Highlands-Bowl type bootpacks.  The Cerro Martin bootpack is probably in the ballpark with Highlands Bowl's. 

post #32 of 37

I was using the term "kick step" to mean the same thing as Tony's "boot pack."  Skis off, top buckle loose, and kicking steps into the snow straight up a steep grade. It could have taken longer than I remember to get to the rock wall at the top of the bowl, but it was fairly easy going, and for a change I was not minding the climb at all.  Spent a good part of that trip in awe of everything and smiling big time.  Everyone reacts differently to culture shock, but I was feeling like I just robbed a bank every day, so the time seemed to fly by.


Not sure what year we went, but I believe it was about 13 years ago.  It was the second low snow year in row.  LL offered us another opportunity to roll over the trip to the next year, but we went anyway since we had delayed a year already.  Both the pic of Marte and the backside were other people's photos, and not from the year we were there, which had much less snow, but considerably more than in Tony's pics.

Edited by mudfoot - 9/23/15 at 11:07am
post #33 of 37
Thread Starter 
I believe it was about 13 years ago

2002 was the record high season with 492 inches snowfall at the base of Las Lenas.  I heard in 2005 that Marte required a much more extensive excavation during 2002.  2001 was big also, 398 inches.


2003 was average in total but almost no snow after July. Average season snowfall at the base is about 250 inches.


2004 was about a 60% season, similar to several of the recent years.

It was the second low snow year in row. 

There are no examples of two consecutive low seasons between 1992 and 2006.  There have been no above average seasons since then. 1996 and 1998 were the worst seasons when Las Lenas may not have opened at all. 1997 was an excellent season and 1999 was about average.

post #34 of 37

Maybe it was longer ago than I think.  The year we were there they were closing the front side runs the first week of September and trucking in snow to make it skiable to the bottom from the Marte side.

post #35 of 37
Thread Starter 
The year we were there they were closing the front side runs the first week of September and trucking in snow to make it skiable to the bottom from the Marte side.

The front side is east facing and a base elevation of 7,400 feet is not that high for 35 degrees latitude.  If you get a sustained dry spell in August/September the lower elevation snow will take a beating.  So in 2003 when it didn't snow after July, conditions by September on the lower mountain may have been poor.


Also the snowfall is measured at the base.  Skeeze was at Las Lenas last year and saw a ~6 foot dump that revived Marte's terrain.  Only 15 inches was recorded at the base from that storm.

post #36 of 37

Very volatile dispersion in snow - base to peak ? Is it the topography of the slopes relative to the typical direction of winds and storm formations?

post #37 of 37
Thread Starter 

I think in the case of that particular 2014 storm there may have been some rain/snow mix at the base.  But for any ski area where the top of the mountain is near the crest of a range and the base is 3,000 feet lower in the leeward direction, there is a potential huge dropoff in snowfall from crest to base.  I think Las Lenas is fairly normal in this regard, sort of like Squaw Valley where base snowfall averages 60% of the top. Park City is another good example.


The big problems arise with adverse weather patterns:

1) In warm storms the base gets rain and some terrain never gets covered adequately. This is what has happened at Squaw the past 2 seasons when the base got 33% and 41% of the snow the top got. 

2) These east facing base areas also melt out more in warm weather, particularly when the snowpack is not robust to begin with.  Las Lenas had wall-to-wall good coverage to the valley floor in 2005, but this year the bare areas on the lower mountain were expanding day by day during the warm week. Thankfully that trend was arrested by more new snow after I left. 


When I look around at other South America ski areas, I'm inclined to think Las Lenas founder Tito Lowenstein and his French consultant Marcel Briand made a reasonable choice in terms of snow where to site their new resort in the early 1980's. They were familiar with Bariloche and its chronic low elevation rain issues.  Las Lenas snowfall at 7,400 feet is similar to Portillo's at 9,400 and considerably more than Valle Nevado's at 9,900.  So it's almost certain that at 9,000+ feet Las Lenas gets the most snow.  But for all 3 of these areas it's not the average but the extreme volatility of snowfall that makes advance reservations risky.

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