On the road with the Sweetgrass crew must be one hell of a place to be. In Episode X, the crew takes a break from the rugged, raw and gritty South American-scape and drops in for two weeks of powder paradise at Hotel Portillo. Mountain Life caught up with Whistler local and Arc’teryx athlete Austin Ross to see how he fared in spite of all the red wine.
Mountain Life: So Austin, looks like you were roughing it pretty hardcore on this little stint in Chile. How did you cope?
Austin Ross: The place is pretty wild, we kept referring to it as a cruise ship. They had a movie theatre, full size gym, spa outside right at the base of the T-bars. I didn’t really know what to expect, and we ended up going up 28 switchbacks near Mendoza and all of a sudden there’s this amazing hotel in the middle of nowhere.
ML:How was the experience in Chile from a skiing standpoint?
AR:We lucked out. When I showed up (the snowpacl) was at pretty low tide, but filled in pretty fast with a couple of storms. The accumulation was big. Lots of fall line, quick vert. You can start on one side to get the morning light then follow it along as the day progesses.
ML: Did anything really trip you out about being there? (like in OZ were the toilets flush the other way)
AR: Jusdt the whole vibe of being in the same hotel with the same people that are on the hill you’re breaking bread with them at night. It was cool…we were really displaced form the city and form a typical ski resort.
ML: What is the one single memory that sticks out from your time in Chile?
AR: Probably skinning right behing Mike Brown (from Sweetgrass) and we heard this thundering of an avalanche come from across the lake. We could feel the misting of the snow on our faces….a pretty crazy moment.
ML: One last question. How’s life in Whistler so far this summer? What you been up to?
AR: It’s been good, I was planting trees near Princeton and been skiing up on the Glacier with lots of sunny days. And lately been picking blueberries up at JD’s farm in Pemby.
To keep up with more of Austin’s shenanigans, check out www.austinross.ca