Alex Taran Dispatches From The Andes - Part 1

Packing for winter in summerwear . For the last few years Icelantic Athlete Alex Taran has spending her summers in South America immersing herself wholeheartedly in the culture as a skier and a traveller while sharing her passion and expertise in snow safety with a culture that has lacked many of the modern amenities that backcountry skiers rely on today. Here Alex checks in real time from Chile sharing her recent experience with us. . Sunrise coming into Santiago . “Taxi! taxi!!” There were about 5 men in front of me shouting “taxi.” The air is crisp . and vague memories of summer dresses still filled my head. Although that summer dress graced my world only 20 hours prior, it seems like a far away dream. It was definitely winter in Chile. . I dragged my ski bag the curb load it into a vehicle and head towards the Terminal de Buses. While dragging my bags through the terminal people buzzed by me, their loads are much lighter than my huge ski bag. A couple guys stopped to ask me what’s in the bag, it is by far the biggest bag in the terminal. I get this question a lot down here. I respond, “mi ultimo tres ex-pololos (my last three ex-boyfriends).” They laugh. I continued walking. In actuality it houses something better than a boyfriend: a bunch of ski mountaineering equipment and two pairs of skis (Nomads and Vanguards). . While en route to Las Trancas, I am informed by the bus attendant that they are stopping early (in Los Lleuques) because the road is too icy (I guess it did snow 70cms 3 days ago). Luckily one of my closest friends lives in this town and I stay with her, her parents, her son, their dog and chickens. After 36 hours of traveling sleep feels good. . Transportacion Publico Chile . In the morning I am left with several options, as I am stranded with several large bags. I can take the local microbus up to my street: Shangri-La (yes I literally live on a street called Shangri-La, needless to say one of the most beautiful places on earth) and drag my “three ex-boyfriends” down ¼ mile of sand and snow to my house. Or worry about it later and go skiing… It takes me only a second to forget that I am stranded 40 km from my house with an amount of gear that even I know I shouldn’t try to hitchhike with. I’m going skiing. . I put on my ski gear, throw my boots over my pack, walk to the side of the road, and throw my thumb out. The first pickup I see stops (what luck!) I throw my skis in the bed, along with the 4 oversized bottles of propane that they’re transporting, and climb in. The ride takes me all the way to Las Trancas, I get out say a quick “gracias” and they drive away. I start walking, I’m 10k to Nevados de Chillan, its been 48 hours since I started traveling, and exactly 4 cars have passed me in the last 10 minutes. . I see a truck coming, turn around, set my skis upright, and stick my thumb out. It whizzes by me and as I turn around to keep walking it comes to a stop. I run throw my skis and myself into the bed of the truck. I try to get low as we pass the Carabineros (cops) station… no one’s there today. I sit up, lean on my bag, and watch mountains, trees, and a whole lot of snow go by. I do love ridding in the back of trucks with skis. . We near the upper base of the area, and park. I thank them again, grab my skis and walk over to the center. As I walk onto the snow I hear a voice yelling “Ale!! (Alex for short)” I turn and see one of the patrollers Marco ski by. He’s gone quickly and I vow to catch up with him up top. . Volcan Nuevo from Mirador Chair . Soon enough I’m on my way, I jump on the Otto, by far the oldest chairlift I’ve ever ridden and in the 23 minutes It takes to reach the top I cant stop marveling and how few tracks there are after 3 days a 70cm storm! Marco isn’t up top but I’m not going to wait, I can say my “hellos” later. . 50 hours ago I was packing in a sundress, 25 hours earlier I entered winter at the Santiago airport. After 2 planes, 2 buses, 2 nights, and 2 rides in the back of pickup trucks, I have been waiting for this moment. . Nomads like Powder . I turn my skis down hill and take one turn and then head strait, I drop off of a small cornice and the landing is soft. All of a sudden the bags, the time, and the journey are behind me. I am not worried about anything. How could I? The moment is now, and now is nothing less than absolutely incredible. . Riding with Friends . Stay tuned right here as Alex keeps us updated and the adventure continues....

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