FWT volcano tour
For the last three years, the Freeskiing World Tour has come to Chile for world tour events, running competitions at a different ski area each year. In 2009, the first ever Chilean Freeskiing Championship was held at La Parva. The following year saw a historic event held on El Colorado's controversial out-of-bounds area, Santa Teresa. Last year's event was held at the Chilean cat-skiing outfitter Ski Arpa.
But this year, due to extremely low snow totals, the event almost didn't happen. Slated to be held again at Ski Arpa on Aug. 22 - 26, the competition was canceled just three weeks before the scheduled date because of lack of snow. (It's worth noting that two large storms impacted Ski Arpa in the weeks following the cancellation.) The North Face Chile and Freeskiing (now officially Freeride) World Tour were both committed to holding an event somewhere in the Chilean Andes.
Less than two weeks prior, a plan emerged for a trip that would include ski touring and revelry. All of the registered athletes for the contest were invited on an all-expenses-paid excursion to the exotic Chilean ski destination Antillanca, located in northern Patagonia, for a trip that wrapped up this past weekend. "The future is bright for freeride in Chile," said FWT event director Bryan Barlow. "Instead of just throwing in the towel because of difficult conditions, we made this event happen to keep promoting the momentum and the passion behind freeride in the Andes."
What the event lacked in the competitive aspect, it made up for in breaking new ground for the sport and for Chile. The 40 invitees were told to bring backcountry touring gear, since much of the best terrain around Antillanca is accessible only by ski touring. With the support of the guides of White World Freeride Company, athletes, filmers and photographers accessed backcountry terrain in the resort's surroundings.
"This is a developing part of our sport that more and more people are getting involved in," said Santiago Fernández of The North Face Chile. "This is why it is important for us to push forward, create culture, and give continuity to these events year after year."