Photo Gallery: Argentina 2011 The Best Summer Ever

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October 3, 2011

— Ben Girardi

It was the best summer ever.

For the past six years, I’ve been lucky to shred in Argentina with SASS Global Travel in July and August. It’s always an amazing time. But this year, multiple factors worked together to make it the best yet.

SGT upgraded to a hotel at the base of Cerro Catedral, eliminating the need to take a bus to and from the mountain. This allowed us to go farther into the hills each day and access terrain we never had time to ride before. This lowered stress levels and allowed everyone to enjoy their time that much more.

In early June, after lying inactive for more than 50 years, Chile’s Puyehue volcano erupted, sending ash six miles high. The ash cloud moved across Argentina and covered Bariloche and the surrounding landscape in ash.

For the local economy, this was terrible. Tourism — what Bariloche thrives on — had a major slump. Argentina had been hard hit and many businesses were suffering.

As hard as it is to say, this disaster worked in our favor. Except for some minor travel changes, the eruption led only to positives. The mountain, which is usually packed with people, was empty. Lift lines were non-existent, allowing us to get lap after lap on powder days. Very few people were riding off piste, which allowed us to easily get fresh tracks days after storms.

In the past, I have seen deeper snow years. Some terrain wasn’t as filled in as much as previous years. Aside from that, this season came together to make this one the best I have experienced. Day after day was filled with powder turns, whoops, hollers, and ear-to-ear grins. Argentina 2011 … it was the best summer ever.

Andrew Burns at Cerro Catedral

Andrew Burns leaves his mark on the Argentine landscape with this slash.

Dustin Elbridge airs through the trees

Dustin Elbridge airs through the trees.

Rainer Benz pops at Cerro Catedral

Rainer Benz's yellow coat pops as much as he does coming off this cliff.

Traveling to Bariloche

As I traveled across Argentina, the mountains slowly started to come out of the landscape. Fifty hours of traveling and I was almost there.

Chile's Puyehue volcano erupts

Chile's Puyehue volcano was constantly spewing ash the entire summer. It kept many people away, leaving the mountain wide open for us.

Rainer Benz drops in at Cerro Catedral

Above the lifts at Cerro Catedral, Rainer Benz drops into his line.

Wish you were here, Rainer Benz

Wish you were here… Rainer Benz.

Dustin Elbridge, method

Clouds may prevent you from getting to the high alpine, but they don’t have to prevent you from having fun. Dustin Elbridge, method.

"Peter Wentz" at Cerro Catedral

Peter Wentz follows his slough off a drop.

Piers Solomon finds some pillows

In the mystical woods of Argentina, Piers Solomon finds some pillows.

Michell Parker at Cerro Catedral

Michelle Parker nearly disappears underneath the deep snow.

Andrew Burns method

Andrew Burns with a proper method.

Chase Josey at Cerro Catedral

Chase Josey knows how to tweak a back seven.

Randall Stacy spins at Cerro Catedral

Up in the clouds, Randall Stacy grabs tail and spins seven.

Randall Stacy skins at Cerro Catedral

Randall Stacy puts in the skin track back up to the ridge.

For more, visit bengirardiphoto.com and www.sassglobaltravel.com.

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