15 June 2008

My Day With Jari

Or, How I Accomplished A Winter Project

In a world of modified high performance food products there is something to be said for a guy willing to spend a long day in the snow with only a bag of "Fun Size" Milky Way candy bars, six pint-size bottles of Gatorade, and a pack of Lucky Strikes for nutritional support. When asked during a short rest if he wanted to share some of my decidedly healthy nut mix he replied in his clipped, rolling English, "No, I don't like nuts. Nuts are what I would feed to my--how would you call that?--little parrot or bird." That's Jari. He's from Finland. And he's a fine, fine skier. And we had a fine, fine day.

My goal was to ski one of the chutes off of Cerro La Parva (4,047m/13,277ft). Location details are found in the June 12th post. The Chileans were all tied up with weekend-long Father's Day celebrations but
I managed to coax Jari into the trip. We took off from the base of Valle Nevado prior to the inaugural start of the opening day lifts. The crowds were just gathering and by the time we returned late in the day the place looked like an ant farm of streaming skiers filing down avenues of snow.

Digital cameras are convenient but they (or at least I) seem to have difficulty capturing enormity and depth. Nothing is short and easily accessed in these parts of the Andes. North to south it's the longest mountain range in the world and even the smallest of valleys and peaks seem adjusted to a monumental scale. We spent two and a half hours skinning up to the portezuelo, or pass, that separates the resort from the surrounding high country. From the pass--basically the base of Cerro La Parva--there is still another two-ish hours to the summit. But it was Jari's first real ski tour in Andes since moving here last December and no matter how far or how high we went his awestruck reactions to the environment kept pushing him along.

At least until his equipment failed. His older, skinnier skins were ill fitted for his newer, wider skis and the final, steepest section of the climb. Content, he decided to stay behind and take in the views. He had a couple of them.

I headed up alone for the last 400 meters or so following an older, crusty skin track; each vantage point more interesting as it was steep.

Up on top, the views improved even more so. The Parva, Pintor, Plomo triptych.

The way out. Wide open at the top, narrow and crooked at the bottom.

Sadly, it didn't ski as well as it looked. Two weeks without new snow has left it wind whipped and unaccommodating. The top open bowl was like skiing on a blackboard without the benefit of chalk padding. The narrows improved slightly with some settled wind buff. I ain't complaining, though.

Jari was waiting for me on an adjacent shoulder. We skied out the run, had a quick snack of salami and broken crackers, Fun Size chocolate bites, and bird food. As the sun dropped behind the peaks we hiked it out to the top of Valle Nevado for the long run home.

Looking at life through an inch-squared window: Jari dropping down to meet me in the waning minutes of sunlight.

At the bottom, Jari wanted to show his appreciation for his introductory tour in the Andes. We sat, he ordered four bottles of beer ("Much better than two."), and fired-up a Lucky Strike. Hölkyn kölkyn.

Finnish Pop!

Husky Rescue: Summertime Cowboy.mp3 from Country Falls. Website, Buy
Jimi Tenor: Miracles.mp3 from
Beyond the Stars. Website, Buy

(If you can't see a small, blue square and triangle that resembles a play button, go here and follow directions. Installing this will allow you to read and listen to music at the same time--like a real live multitasker!)


jamie said...

Buen hecho Caballeros!

Lea said...

I spend about 70% of my skidays in the company of expat/exchange student fins. At least they don't woot and holler when they ski like the 'mericans.