THE SASS ARGENTINA EXPERIENCE
SASS Argentina is all about family. You’ll be crushing Patagonian powder with some of the best pro backcountry skiers and snowboarders in the world… in August. Living at the base of Catedral alongside a staff of pro coaches, backcountry guides and a full-time logistics staff; you’ll get to experience all the powder, culture, language, food and nightlife you can handle. Are you ready?
NOW TAKING REGISTRATIONS FOR 2015
– CHECK OUT DATES & PRICING FOR MORE INFO –
SASS Argentina is the perfect opportunity to push yourself to the level you have always wanted to achieve. You will experience new terrain and have an unparalleled support group around you to help achieve your on snow goals. There is no better place to improve your skiing or riding than the freeride playground that is SASS Argentina. You have been dreaming of this trip your whole life.
I stumbled across the SASS website and read testimonials like ‘best time of my life’, which made me kind of skeptical. However, I went and it was the best decision I could possibly make. From the moment I walked through the door, I was down with the crew. The mountain was like home to me and I’ve received way more than all the deep pow I was looking for. An unforgettable and amazing time in wonderful Argentina with a killer crew of campers and staff.
— Rainer Benz, 2012 adult session
LIFE AT SASS ARGENTINA
Life in our Argentina lodge resembles a backcountry summer camp — clients eat together, ride together and work as a team to travel safely through the backcountry. Many pursue backcountry education; avalanche certifications are offered in-house by certified AIARE and CAA course leaders, along with Spanish, Filmmaking, CPR and Wilderness First Aid. Our private lodge, walking distance from the gondola, features comfortable shared rooms with an indoor/outdoor pool, ping-pong table, media room and private dining room. We also offer private apartments and custom lodging.
NOT QUITE READY TO REGISTER?
– CLICK HERE TO INQUIRE –
Every morning you will be able to choose how you want to spend the day on the mountain. Each coach will have a plan for the day and you get to decide which option suits your desires best. Mountain Operations Director Pete Connolly will be there to help you figure out which group will be right for you. All you have to do is tell him your goals for the day and he will figure out exactly where you should be and who you should be with.
We keep the groups small and make sure everyone is on the same page in terms of both skill level and desired terrain. Our groups never exceed a 5 to 1 client to coach ratio giving you direct access to your guide or coach and keeping the pace up for the entire crew.
DAILY OPTIONS INCLUDE:
Every day is different at SASS Argentina. Weather, ability, energy level and desire all play into your options for the day. Below is a list of potential options…
- Bootpack the ridge to Laguna
- Backcountry tour off the backside of Catedral
- Beacon drills and avalanche scenario practice
- Open high alpine bowls
- Perfectly spaced tree laps
- Line selection and terrain awareness practice
- Terrain park day
- Couloirs between orange granite spires
- Skinning clinic for splitboarders and skiers with touring set-ups
- Cliff dropping session
- Jump building lesson and backcountry booter hits
- Pillow popping in the Playground
- Learn new tricks into pow
SASS Argentina offers numerous backcountry and snow industry based courses through our Awesome U program. If you are looking to participate in our additional education options click HERE.
What really sets SASS apart is the family atmosphere and the excitement shared by everyone there. There’s nothing like waking up to a foot of fresh powder and seeing everyone just as stoked as you are. It was truly the adventure of a lifetime and something I will never forget.
— Dylan Freeman, 2 years and counting…
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
We get a lot of questions, and we try our best to answer them below. Please scroll down and see if yours has been asked before. You can also click here and ask us specific questions and we will get back to you as soon as we can.
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Buenos Aires Airport Transfer
Nearly all clients making the journey to SASS Argentina will arrive at the Ministro Pistarini International Airport (EZE), more commonly known as Ezeiza International Airport. The tricky part? Ezeiza serves mainly international flights, and you may be required to make the 45-minute journey to the domestic airport, Aeroparque Jorge Newbery (AEP) in downtown Buenos Aires.
After clearing customs, adult clients will have the option of using the exclusive SASS airport transfer service ($100 round-trip). If you select this option when you book your trip, your flight will be met by an Argentine SASS representative who will bring you directly to Aeroparque to make your connection onward to Bariloche. If you choose to make the transfer on your own, you should be prepared to communicate in basic Spanish and be comfortable traveling on your own in a foreign country. Your options include Taxi/Remise (approx. $40-$60 USD one way — be wary of taxi drivers advertising in the terminal, as they usually overcharge), or a scheduled shuttle bus ($20-$25 USD plus bag fees). Public transportation is not recommended. Flight arrival times vary by airline, although most flights from North America arrive between 7-11AM. If this is the case, you may have the opportunity to explore Buenos Aires before your domestic flight. Please be aware of the time, as SASS Global Travel is not responsible for missed flights.
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Safety in Buenos Aires
Buenos Aires has a storied and turbulent history. Throughout most of the 20th century, Buenos Aires (also known as BA) was a cosmopolitan city that rivaled most throughout Europe and North America. Ornate buildings and beautiful plazas are everywhere, complemented by an unrivaled nightlife and thriving cultural scene. After weathering severe economic crises in the 1980s and again in 2001, Buenos Aires is once again returning to its former glory. Downtown Buenos Aires and popular neighborhoods like Palermo and Recoleta give the city its European flair, and tourists feel comfortable walking the streets alone during the day.
Be wary of simply walking out of the domestic (or International) airport on foot to explore the city. As in most cities, the areas surrounding airports are mostly industrial and not well-suited to tourists. If you choose to explore the city during your connecting time between flights, you should consider taking a taxi to the nearby Palermo neighborhood. This wealthy neighborhood is home to many shops, parks and plazas, and is close enough to the airport for a quick cab ride back. Grab a lomito, the traditional Argentine steak sandwich, or sample the fine Malbec wines offered around the city.
Petty crime is a problem, but simply being aware of your surroundings and taking care not to expose large amounts of cash will avoid most problems. Most businesses in BA accept credit cards, but expect to pay a higher price or surcharge for using one. You should also be cautious of providing large bills to taxi operators in Buenos Aires, as you may receive a counterfeit bill as change in return. See the section on Currency and Money below for more information.
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Safety in Bariloche
San Carlos de Bariloche is a very safe city and is very comfortable for tourists. Although there are parts of Bariloche that should be avoided (as in any city), most are located far away from the popular downtown area. The resort area where SASS operates is very safe and basically crime-free. However, all clients should be responsible for their gear and equipment, lock their doors when they leave to ride for the day, and not leave things like snowboard bags, laptops, and bright expensive snowboard jackets unattended as these attract attention and encourage pick-pocketing and other petty crime. As long as you’re smart about your stuff, you’ll be fine. It is highly recommended that clients buy travel insurance before they come down, both for things like theft and also for flight and baggage delays.
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Currency & Money
Argentina uses the Argentine Peso, which is equivalent to about $0.25 USD. Many businesses also take American dollars, but be prepared to receive a poor exchange rate. It’s better to exchange money at a bank, casa de cambio (foreign currency exchanges) or at Tage – the small snack bar located at the base of Cerro Catedral. ATMs are available at the base area and around the downtown area, and clients are advised that most transactions in Argentina are done with cash, so be sure to have some on you at all times for emergencies. Especially in Buenos Aires (but also in Bariloche, to a much lesser degree), be aware of providing large bills (50 or 100-peso notes) to taxi drivers. After handing the bill to your driver, you may notice him “looking for change” — and then telling you he doesn’t have it. He’ll happily hand a counterfeit bill back to you, asking for something smaller. This scam isn’t seen often in Bariloche, but is extremely common in Buenos Aires and other large cities. If you carry small bills for cab rides and everyday purchases, you’ll avoid the majority of issues.
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There is a clinic at the base of the mountain that is almost immediately next door to our lodging at SoulMax. Services like X rays, evaluations, and other preliminary procedures can be provided, and the clinic has its own doctor on staff. The clinic is actually an extension of the Sanatorio San Carlos, a modern, full-service private hospital located in the city center. Bariloche is also serviced year-round by a private
Medivac helicopter and several modern ambulance/paramedic services. Most procedures require payment at the time of service, which can be reimbursed via your Travel Insurance or international health insurance using the receipts collected at the hospital. Dramatically cheaper than the US, quality X rays and office visits may cost as little as $25 USD.
With our new location at the mountain, you’ll find transportation in Bariloche straightforward, easy and largely inexpensive. If you’re making the journey to town, try to find a companion and split the cost of a taxi (usually 60-80 pesos, or $15-20 USD). Taxis are widely available at the mountain and in town, and typically run on a meter. You can also take a remise — essentially, a remise is a privately owned taxi that doesn’t operate on a meter. They’re often of higher quality than taxis, and sometimes less expensive. Just be sure to obtain the fare before you commit. Most drivers are honest, but some will raise the price if you don’t ask beforehand.
The public bus in Bariloche (operated by 3 de Mayo) is extremely safe, effective, crowded and usually on-time. They’re a great way to experience local culture and save some money at the same time. All buses leaving the mountain go to the city center, and any bus marked “Catedral” will deliver you back to the base area, just steps from the SGT Argentina campus. Buses to/from Catedral cost 8 pesos ($2.00), and operate at least hourly until around midnight on most days. You can also rent a car through our partner SoulMax travel, just be sure to make an inquiry in advance as cars are sometimes unavailable last-minute. The minimum age to rent a vehicle is 18, and a valid US Driver License and major credit card is required.
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The “A Factor”
Ah yes, the “A Factor” – that wonderful, unexplainable variable of daily life in Argentina that might initially drive schedule-hungry Americans crazy but with time, will relax you and truly get you into the rhythm of life in Argentina. Buses may be late, restaurants may only take cash even after posting a Visa sticker in the window, lifts may not run for no justifiable reason – hey, it’s Argentina! It’s not the US, Canada, or Europe and you should be prepared for something to not work out perfectly during your trip. Just relax, take a deep breath, be tranqui and enjoy the adventure of experiencing another culture with both its ups and downs.
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What’s the mountain like?
- 1,500 acres in-bounds, 3,000+ acres including sidecountry terrain
- 33 chairlifts
- 3 peaks
- 3,500 foot vertical drop
- Summit tops out at 7,800 feet
All of our coaches have at minimum achieved their Level 1 AIARE avalanche safety certification and are CPR/first aid certified. All of our guides have Level 2 or 3 certifications, have attended guide school and are certified in wilderness first aid.
Catedral is the largest resort in South America – about the size of Mammoth Mountain, California, which the skiing and riding is most similar to, with a wetter, coastal snowpack that sets up very quickly and hangs onto all kinds of faces and rock outcroppings, making for perfect cliff take-offs. With a 3,500 foot vertical rise, the snow gets deeper and lighter as you get higher on the mountain. With over 33 chairlifts including a gondola and a high-speed six-pack, the lift system is fully modern. However, with grooming mostly limited to a bunch of cat tracks circling the mountain, the off-piste experience is closer to that of Silverton Mountain – lots and lots and lots of untracked woods, chutes, and bowls that are barely skied outside of our groups. The skiing is raw and is closer to lift-accessed backcountry than the traditional North American resort experience. We ride everyday using proper backcountry travel protocols and guides, and every client rides with a beacon, shovel, and avalanche probe everyday. Helmets are required for Under-18 participants and recommended for others.
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Who are the coaches and guides?
Our coaches and guides at SASS Argentina represent the cream of the crop of the ski and snowboard industry’s backcountry professionals – all of our guides are professionally accredited and guide during the winter at places like Silverton Mountain, Japan, and Alaska. All of our coaches are professional skiers and snowboarders with extensive experience in the backcountry and teaching freeride skiing or snowboarding. The experience isn’t like other experiences you’ve had with instructors – it’s as hands-off or as hands-on as you want it to be, but most seem to learn best by trying to keep up with our pros and coaches.
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What is the weather like?
Weather in Bariloche is fairly comparable to that of Lake Tahoe – about 300 days of sun a year, snow at night that clears up to blue skies by lunchtime, and moderate temps in the 20’s during the day. Given the elevation gain of the mountain, the base where we stay can be quite a bit warmer. No need to pack for Arctic temps but be sure to bring extra gloves, goggles, and a set of extra pants and a jacket as it can be fairly wet. As well, unlike in the North American winter, daylight stretches from about 9 am to 7 pm.
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What’s the food like?
Food-wise, Argentina is famous for two things above all others: beef and wine. If you eat red meat, be prepared to be so blown away by the quality of the beef here that you will consider vegetarianism when you return home – no cut of meat in the world can beat the taste of a cut of lomo fresh off the asado! Also one of the world’s most famous regions for Malbecs is only six hours north, so amazing wine is a given. Food is cheap, so eating out a few times while in Argentina is a must, and a lomo and picada are two dishes you have to try. Bariloche is also famous for its chocolates, so a stop through Mamuschkas in downtown is necessary to fill up on every kind of chocolate concoction conceivable.
Argentines like to eat a lot of meat and pasta and seem to find a way to put ham and cheese on everything possible, and is historically not an easy place for vegitarians to navigate. However, Bariloche is one of the world’s top destinations for anglers, and has unbelievable fish, especially trout and salmon. As well, SASS has the flexibility modify its menu for vegetarian clients, and we make sure to have plenty of salads and vegetables on the table as well.
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What are the people like?
Bariloche, along with the rest of Argentina, speaks a distinct dialect of Spanish called castellano – very different and much more staccato than the Spanish we hear in the US influenced by countries like Mexico. That being said, if you have any competency in Spanish you will be very welcome here, and being that this is one of the most-visited cities in all of Argentina, you will find plenty of English-speaking locals to help you out should you need it (but try it in Spanish, first!). The people are generally very friendly and nice and it’s a small enough community that locals consider hitch-hiking along Avenida Bustillo, the main avenue in Bariloche, a commonplace and safe activity.
Bariloche, like much of Argentina, has a lot of European heritage thanks with boatloads of Europeans that arrived during and after the last two World Wars. You will see plenty of distinctly European names around town, from Cabalgata Tom Wesley to Casita Suiza (Swiss House). A lot of the architecture, views, and people will look like something out of the Alps.
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What’s the city of Bariloche like?
The city is about twenty minutes away by taxi or bus from the base of Cerro Catedral and is home to over 100,000 people. Situated right on the shore of Lago Nahuel Huapi at the south end of the extensive lakes region, Bariloche offers all the modern conveniences of a small city while also being the perfect venue for clients to explore the Argentine culture and practice their castellano. For those looking for nightlife, the city is also home to several famous nightclubs including Dusk, Pacha, and Wilkenny, and SASS will organize excursions into town to sample the nightlife for adult clients.
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What is there to do besides ski and snowboard?
If you’re not skiing, snowboarding, or taking advantage of our class offerings, there is plenty to do. The Soulmax has a full indoor/outdoor pool and game room, and the base area of the mountain offers extensive options, from bars to restaurants to a full-fledged shopping mall. City buses leave for town every hour on the hour, and for 6 pesos, can be ridden into downtown to enjoy all that downtown Bariloche has to offer. Possible excursions include tours of the chocolate museum, hiking around the Circuito Chio, horseback riding, ATV tours, fly-fishing, island boat tours, or day-trips to other resorts like Cerro Bayo or to fun towns like El Bolson. Some excursions will be arraigned with the group while at SASS Argentina but most are available per request. Listed excursions are not included in the trip price. If the snow is good though, you’ll likely be too exhausted for a ton of extra activities.
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What are the medical facilities like?
There is a clinic at the base of the mountain that is almost immediately next door to our lodging at SoulMax where things like X rays, evaluations, and other preliminary or small procedures can be done, and has its own doctor on staff. The clinic is actually an extension of the Sanitario San Carlos de Bariloche, the modern, full-service hospital that can be found in the city center, that is staffed with a medivac helicopter as well. Most procedures require payment at the time of service, which can be billed to your health insurance using the receipts collected at the hospital. Dramatically cheaper than the US, quality X rays may cost as little as $25 USD.
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What’s the time difference?
Bariloche is only one hour ahead of the East Coast of the US, making it a way easier adjustment than a trip to a place like New Zealand.
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What is the effect of my trip on the environment?
Traveling is a beautiful and enlightening activity – it’s as big a passion for us as skiing or snowboarding. However, traveling is by default a carbon-intensive activity. At SASS Argentina, we are absolutely dependent on consistent snowfall for the success of our program and the happiness of our clients. And we can’t ignore that climate change is affecting snowpacks worldwide. This year, we’ve been able to reduce the carbon footprint of a trip to SASS Argentina by moving to slopeside lodging at the mountain, eliminating the need for daily bus shuttles and putting us in a position to be able to utilize local public transportation. However, 85% of the carbon footprint of a trip to SGT Argentina, or about 4.8 tons of carbon dioxide, is created during the flights to and from Bariloche.
Since we can’t make the airplanes more efficient ourselves, we’re addressing the problem by offering an in-house carbon offset program. We are working with the EcoAndina foundation, an Argentine organization that develops solar projects, such as schools and solar ovens, for communities in rural Northwest Argentina. In this desert region, known as la Puna, communities often have little to no access to electricity or gas, and must search for rare desert shrubs, which are slow to regrow and prevent further desertification, in order to heat schools and homes and cook meals. By providing communities with solar ovens or a solar school, members of the community see a huge increase in their standard of living, reduce the amount of time spent away from learning or performing other tasks while looking for firewood, and our clients see the carbon footprint of their trip covered by preventing the burning of firewood over the lifetime of the solar oven or solar school.
Click below to find out how to pay over time for your trip to SASS Argentina…