Sled Skiing Caviahue
“Brrraaaaapppp,” goes the 900 Polaris RMK as we tear across the frozen lake in a volcanic crater. I watch with amusement as little pieces of white shrapnel eject from beneath the sled, harmlessly hitting the rider I am shuttling to the top of a 3,000-foot face on the Argentina-Chile border. It is September and through some random connections, I am snowmobile skiing. It is the first day of a multi-day commercial shoot for a large South American cell phone carrier. It’s rare that mainstream companies look toward skiing, particularly big-mountain skiing, for their marketing content, and I’m glad I happened to be in the right place at the right time.
The e-mail came about a month ago. “Hey, we’re filming this commercial and need an American skier for a few days of sled skiing and heli time. Do you think you can make it?” wrote my friend. Hmm, I think I can make that happen, I thought to myself. After a few weeks of waiting, we are in our own private winter playground just outside of the Argentinean town of Caviahue. Located six hours north of Bariloche, Caviahue is like nowhere else I’ve been on Earth. The combination of the lakes, mountains, and trees creates a prehistoric atmosphere that makes me feel like I’m on the set of The Flintstones. As far as sled skiing goes, the terrain in Caviahue is about as good as it gets. The north- and west-facing aspects are low angle and have harder snow, allowing for easy shuttles to the south faces, which are more sheltered and shaded, holding snow long after storms have moved out.
So, here we are—two skiers and two snowboarders—providing content for an upcoming advertising campaign that will air at the end of the season. For the next two days we ride countless lines accessed by some of the only sleds in Argentina. Secretly, I’m worried that we’d get material that was “too good” and they’d cut the heli out of the budget. However, at the end of the last day of filming I am informed that, while the footage we are getting is good, we really need a heli for the appropriate branding for the ads. So, we have to travel back to Bariloche to meet the heli, and then head deep into Patagonia to finish up the shoot.