Esquel is a quaint little town about as far south in Argentinian Patagonia as we were prepared to venture for decent snow. It has a mountain called La Hoya that was started by the government who are now having trouble finding new investment / selling it ... so it makes an interesting place with fresh powder snow, cheapest lift tickets, and lots of really friendly skiing families.
... The problem is it is another 5 hours on a bus.... Buses have become an art form due to boredom / cabin fever. This is one of Jason's numerous bus-boredom tricks.... ADD ( Attention Deficit Disorder) is definitely not conducive to sensible bus rides.
Esquel has a few paved roads around which most of the business and hotels are clustered. The rest of town looks like this i.e.: abandon cars and houses! The town itself is set in a magnificent setting surrounding by snow covered mountains.
The road into the mountain is a series of non-barriered switch-backs so the ride up the hill goes from Miss Daisy boredom to Schumaker skid marks the next depending on who lost the bus driver lottery that day.
As with any government intervention into the economy a brilliant idea can quickly turn into a nightmare. This is a 3 hour lift queue for the access chair at La Hoya... the queue goes around the corner and down the hill.
Jason saw the head slide at the 2001 World Breakdance Championships. This is the snow version of the head slide. It goes for about 3 metres before he collapses in neck pain and local laughter.... however it is more instant gratification than 3 hours in a lift queue.
Don't expect to hire any decent gear in Esquel!
This is Paul and Coner and Dublin. They love their one-pieces and are hoping for fashion to go full cycle and make them cool again.
The guy looking at the camera on the left handside of this photo had spent 10 minutes previous to this hanging off a chairlift after he failed to load properly. We then witnessed the funniest mountain rescue ever.
This guy is stuck about 15 feet off the ground holding onto the chair. 3 lifties stop the lift and run over to him with a ladder and then proceed to hold the ladder while one of them climbs it. ( The ladder is not long enough to rest on the chair so its dangling in mid-air) You don't need a degree in physics or to have seen any keystone cops episodes to understand why this is totally stupid... the lifties fall on the ground.... again.... the whole process lasts around 10 minutes... very entertaining!
Princess Claire of the mountain was adored by the masses. We couldn't go anyway without one or more of her legions of fans coming to say hello. Within 2 days she knew most of the mountains cliental and had a few favourites that wouldn't leave her alone.
Jason found a table top that had been made by someone who had obviously never made a table top before... let alone ridden one. A bit of shovelling later and it had a bit of a kicker but nothing to get too excited about. It did get him off the ground and thus release some queuing frustration.