Catedral snowboarding, day 5
My fifth day of boarding down the runs of Cerro Catedral was the best day so far. The weather cleared up a bit today — it was still overcast as hell, but at least it wasn't raining or snowing — and my skills on the board are only getting better. Yesterday was the first day that I really started feeling confident on the board — so today was all about having fun! I tried going down some "red" runs (an Argentine special — they're basically hard blues), and even a few blacks ("chicken style" all the way, for now). It's still really hard doing proper turns on those steep bits, but I'm getting there.
I got the bus up to the snow this morning with Travis, my mad ski-instructor roommate. Travis has a pair of skis with the sweetest bindings I've ever seen: they can be used as downhills, with the heel attached firmly to the ski; or, at the push of a button, the heel binding can be released, and suddenly they become cross-country's or telemarkers! Liam, if you saw them you'd be drooling with envy, mate. Anyway, I lost Travis once we reached the mountain, as he went off straightaway to tackle the hardest and the most insane runs that he could find (as well as various runs that were technically off-limits, but which he could reach with his skis in "cross-country mode"); while I stayed on the easier and more heavily-peopled runs. But we met up again for lunch, and then once more to get the bus back to town.
On the bus back this afternoon, I bumped into Paul, an Aussie guy who I last saw while hiking in the Colca Canyon, about 2 months ago in southern Peru. The "small world" thing knows no bounds, when you're a gringo in South America! Paul's doing a week of snowboarding here as well, although this isn't his first time on a board. Once our bus made it back to Bariloche, I went with Paul and popped into his hostel — the famous Marcopolo — for a beer and a bit of popcorn. Nice place, although hasn't nearly got the atmosphere and the friendliness of Patanuk. Anyway, I'll probably bump into him again, for the remainder of my time snowboarding here — we're both on the mountain for the rest of the week!