Dec 16

ANDY BIEHL: BARILOCHE SKI PATROL EXCHANGE 2022

Aspen Highlands Ski Patrol Andy Biehl shares his experience in Bariloche.

I was honored to be the 8th Ski Patroller to participate in the Aspen Sister Cities exchange with the city of Bariloche and Cerro Catedral Ski Resort from July to September of 2022. The snow fell in copious amounts that season and the skiing was great! Our Argentine hosts provided lovely accommodations for myself and my wife Reina in the neighborhood of Los Coihues. This exchange continues to foster the creation of strong personal and professional relationships between our two cultures and I will be forever grateful for the friendships I formed through this experience.

I arrived in Bariloche on June 22nd (I think) and, due to the early snowfall, the ski season was already underway. I spent the first week getting acquainted with my new home and skiing at Cerro Catedral. I started work on July 1st and it felt like the snow was relentless for weeks. In the Ski Patrol world, snow equals work and busy patrollers are happy patrollers. There was no shortage of work so I had ample time to bond with my new co-workers while working long days on the mountain.

My wife Reina and I ensconced ourselves in our little cabin in Los Coihues for the season. The Coihues neighborhood is located on the North shore of Lago Gutierrez and is about a 15 minute ride from the base area of the ski resort. The neighborhood contains a few small markets and a great bar/restaurant all within a 15-20 minute walk from our cabin.

A typical day for me went something like this: 1. Wake up around 5 am (give or take a half hour) 2. Embark on 15 minute walk to the road, stick out thumb, hitch ride to work 3. Punch in, grab boxed lunch, ascend mountain via some combination of chairlift/snowcat/snowmobile, etc. 4. Open the hill 5. Dig, so much digging 6. Ski, eat, repeat. Many days began with running avalanche control routes in the dark. Most days included assisting injured guests and evacuating them from the hill via toboggan. All days provided ample opportunity to explore the ski area and the adjacent terrain.

The team at Cerro Catedral was instantly welcoming. Many of my fellow patrollers were extremely generous with their time and were eager hosts. Paco Colin and his wife Mili had us over for dinner multiple times and Paco organized a couple of huge asados for the whole patrol. Samuel Cardenas facilitated ski trips to Cerro Bayo and La Hoya (he also hosted asados). Mauro Urra and Ceferino were also very attentive and kind and they too… hosted some lovely asados (as did Guido and Eric and others). I was also lucky enough to spend an afternoon with Carola Ruiz and share some remembrances of her deceased husband and my friend Mario. I am overwhelmed by the kindness and generosity shown to me by the people from Bariloche.

I very much look forward to returning to Argentina to visit my friends there and I am eagerly awaiting the next exchanger from Cerro Catedral so that we may share with him our love for ski patrolling in the Roaring Fork Valley.

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