Monday, February 21, 2011

Bienvenidos a Mi Vida Nueva

As of today, I have been living in Buenos Aires for two weeks. I no longer check snow reports daily or anticipate storm cycles. I don't have to worry about icy rides to class or anything like that, because it is summer, I'm on the other side of the world! Instead I watch my step so as not to be one of those that plants a foot in dog poop. I walk close to the buildings so that the water dripping down the buildings doesn't land on my head. Things are different here, to say the least.

I have found this place is only as overwhelming as you let it be. I have stopped drinking coffee, simply because I do not need that kind of energy. A cold shower in the morning will wake me better than caffeine, sitting through four hours of Spanish class jittery is no good. I can speak enough to get by, although when spoken too I am slow at responding. . only natural. My host parents speak no English, which benefits me greatly. When I continually respond si at the dinner table they know that I have no idea what they are talking about. In a couple of months I will pick it up.

Our home is beautiful and my favorite spot is by far the roof top. On Sundays Luciano (my host father) cooks up the best meat I have ever had, and other days I can watch the clouds roll by. Some days it is humid as can be, and others hold monsoon strength rains. I have worn nothing but Chacos, shorts and short sleeve shirts since arriving, and you can imagine the looks I get! A tall gangly gringo with some messed-up pinky toes. I thoroughly enjoy people watching, especially when I can catch someone look from my feet to my face and back down again, I can't even imagine what they are thinking. They call people from Buenos Aires Portenos, and I wish you all could see the Portenas, they are something else. Very fashionable, dark and oh so pretty. I think my friend Clancy summed it up pretty well from his stay here last semester; "I see the most beautiful woman of my life, everyday."

Why did I choose Argentina, and this place where I am totally out of my element? I do not have a direct answer to that question, but I am sure the answer will present itself within the next five months. Never have I taken a subte (subway) that is packed like a can of sardines, ridden in a taxi that drives like something out of a video game, or drank such cheap, good wine. I have yet to make many Argentine friends but I anticipate them. I have found a climbing gym in walking distance to my home, and I have balance in my life. The night life is absurd, parties don't start until two in the morning, and it is not uncommon to be crawling into bed as the sun rises.

I will be posting here occasionally, I won't say how much, and one of these days I will have a short film for you guys. I would bring my camera everywhere, but that is my greatest problem, shooting photos in places at the right times so I am not the victim of a robbery, because they happen here, often. Two more weeks of intensive language class and I am off to the mountains of Mendoza, where I hope to climb. Oh and this wednesday is LCD Soundsystem!! They are breaking up after this tour and I will most definitely be dancing my self clean. If you don't know who they are YouTube that shit.

Chau amigos,

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Ski Touring with The Junior Mountaineering Team

Enter Bowsers Castle

Last weekend I had the opportunity to get out with the Junior Mountaineering Team in the Southern Madison Range for a few days of backcountry touring. With marked stability, 10in of fresh and thousands of vertical feet of skiable terrain, the conditions were set for an excellent introduction to the Montana backcountry.

Started in 2003 this free program of the Montana Mountaineering Association aims to provide ,"enthusiastic kids the tools they need to explore their local mountains and the adventures that lay beyond: to make them alpinists". While the program focuses on alpine climbing and backcountry travel skills , this program provides a conduit to encourage kids to engage in their communities as leaders with a critical consciousness for the essential facets of life.

Giacomo Ranieiri and JMT Instructor Kevin Brumbach cover the finer points of the beacon search

Giacomo has a go

JMT Instructor KT Miller introduces a right side up, continental snowpack

Instruction for the team is headed by volunteers from the Bozeman climbing and skiing community. Every one of them contributes their unique skill set and experiences to the learning experience. Instructor backgrounds ranging from ski patrol to altitude medicine, alpinism, professional guiding and snow science.

With a maximum of six accepted students yearly, the student to instructor ratio stays in the 2:1 and 1:1 range, providing an unparalleled level of instruction and attention to detail.

The JMT trains over the course of a school year to prepare for two weeks of skiing and climbing in the Tetons in June, applying their learned skills to leading and route finding in the regions most classic couloirs and aretes. The Tetons lurked in the distance the entire training weekend, providing a bit of foreshadowing of what is to come.

Days passed quickly as the crew learned the art of transitions, digging pits, assessing snow pack, skinning technique, terrain management, with some great powder skiing to boot.

Parker Webb got a bit sleepy and found some pillows

As the weekend drew to a close, Parker and I traversed south along the ridge line seeking out some untouched turns on a familiar aspect. We found a prominent NE facing feature, a dreamy tree lined spine with a steep roll over to start, dropping 2,600ft to the south shores of Hebgen Lake. For a moment I remembered my first days of JMT years ago, the first skin tracks, slogs, ice pitches and 20 minute drills and how this singular program has given me a bunch to work with in the hills. The clouds started to roll in thickly now. Parker and I had a nod and we dropped in, leapfrogging through meadows and over pillows into the fading light of the storm cell.


Christopher J. Carter
February 9, 2010

For those who like moving pictures and would like to learn more, here is a profile of the program from filmmaking gun and 2010 graduate Jennings Barmore.

Support the next generation here.

Those keen to join next season can find information here.