Singing the summer snow blues
Special to the Sun
BARILOCHE, Argentina and#8212; Like many skiers from the Lake Tahoe area, I’ve always dreamed of following the snow down to the Southern Hemisphere to ski for the summer. It would be a dream trip.
Well, this year I finally got the motivation to go for it.
I’ve now been living in Argentine Patagonia for two months. I’m living in a gorgeous ski town called Bariloche. The town is situated on a huge alpine lake surrounded by jagged peaks. Sound familiar? Yet, I soon found out that things weren’t as familiar as I’d expected.
Naive as I was, I figured the ski season would be the same as home. But it’s exactly the opposite.
Ski resorts in Tahoe usually begin operations around Nov. 20. Big resorts often stay open into late May, providing a season of approximately six months. Apply that to the exact opposite time of year and it would translate to a six-month ski season that started in late May and continued until the end of November.
Right? Well, not exactly.
Needless to say, I was pretty startled to find the ski resort here didn’t have any plans to open before June 19. That would translate to about Dec. 19 back home. OK, I could deal with that. That would really only mean missing a few weeks of skiing. No problem.
While conversing with locals about getting fired up to ski in June, I got an interesting response.
and#8220;Usually the ski resort doesn’t open until about July 1,and#8221; a local ski guide told me.
All right, fine, I could cope. Just a little longer. In the beginning of June I started telling myself, and#8220;Just two more weeks.and#8221; At the end of two weeks, with no sign of snow, I again found myself saying, and#8220;Just two more weeks and I’ll be skiing!and#8221;
So I hung on for two more weeks and#8230; again.
Then, bam! I made it! July 1! Snow, skiing, beers, buddies, good times. Nope. Just rain. And the forecast: rain. Thus, I regress to the comfortable position of telling myself, and#8220;Just two more weeks and I’ll be and#8230;and#8221;
The ski resort here in Bariloche now is hoping to open by July 8. That would be akin to Jan. 8 in the Northern Hemisphere.
Can you imagine Tahoe ski resorts not opening until mid January? No? Well you shouldn’t have to; it’s not your reality. The scary thing now is that I’m down on my knees in the muck praying the ski resort will open by mid July. I know it won’t be great skiing, but I just want to be skiing.
Then comes the clincher. When would you think the ski resort would close for the season after such a late opening? Well, obviously it would stay open to around November, right? Once again, not exactly. Sept. 30 is the last day of operations. So now I’m sitting in my house, watching the rain pour down while clutching my season pass that is now only worth 80 days, or less, of skiing.
It’s all going to be OK, though. Once the snow comes the skiing will be fun and life will regain purpose. Two and a half months of skiing isn’t what I pictured, but it should be plenty. In reality, I’m very fortunate just to be here. This place truly is stunning. But I can’t help longing for snow and comparing this place to home.
Even if this doesn’t turn out to be the most epic South American winter ever, I have already learned that I’m very lucky to call Lake Tahoe home.
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