Words by Jarad Hadi
A trip of a lifetime along the Andes Mountain; Friends embark on an adventure testing the capability of two snowboarders planning the largest expedition they have ever been on. Not much direction, only goals and the opportunity to observe another culture will guide them through the voyage. Following the path of excitement and adventure they plan on covering a distance that spreads across the longest country in the world; from Santiago, Chile to Lima, Peru, a distance of over 1,500 miles. This is an attempt to display a grand escapade that everyone should experience. A look at the snowboarding that is truly going on in America Del Sur, while surfacing everything else that you can be exposed to through a snowboard trip.
Going to South America is a journey I have looked forward to for the past three years of my existence. Ever since I heard of snowboarding there, I have been dreaming I could have a chance to place myself south of that equator. Times hit and I realize that the only way to actually go anywhere is to do it yourself. I soon remember that Jonas Michilot has always dreamed to make his way through South America as well. His idea was to make it in the direction of Lima, Peru to reunite with his family there and explore his Peruvian heritage. I quickly call him and with no persuasion he asks, “When should we leave?” I respond “One week!” Our plan was no plan. We buy the tickets and we will figure it out when we arrive. A day before our departure, Jonas makes a contact who he has never talked to before. Our mystery man expresses that he can pick us up from the airport and drive us towards a mountain. We send our information and hope for the best.
Not many people seemed to believe our vision until we were gone. There is so much you should think about with an adventure like this, what cities to visit, how to pay for it, what to do, where to stay. Jonas and I did not plan a thing. This documentation of our journey could be a good guide of what not to do in South America. However, a trip like this will get you ready for any situation that life may throw your way.
What should you pack? Who knows? First I decide to grab 4 boards from the Salomon office in Portland. Instead of selling them the idea is to contribute them to people down in South America to show our support towards the community and snowboarding. I load the snowboarding essentials into my board bag. Next, fill a backpack with one or two normal people clothes and the basic necessities. Don’t forget your camouflage neck pillow and pink snuggy for the long plane ride.
Join us and learn from our successes and mistakes.
Play the music while reading the story. Live recordings of two guitars players from Livingstone in Santiago, Chile.
Finally, it is the day I have been dreaming of; Jonas and I meet up in Texas and begin the journey towards Santiago 4862 miles away. Upon arrival, we are pleasantly surprised that Jonas’ contact picked us up. His name is Gonzo, what a magician. Our new friend grabs our gear, throws magnetic roof racks on the car and we speed away to Pucon.
Pucon is a volcano 8 hours south of Santiago. Passing through 5 zones of Chile, fruit stands decorate the sides of the road and graffiti colors the old buildings and bridges along routa 5. For anyone who enjoys street art, I would urge you to visit Santiago. Today is the longest trip we have ever engaged in, totaling 48 hours straight in transit, on a run-around route eventually heading towards Antarctica.
On our first day of snowboarding we join the locals of Santiago and Temuco in an unusual event called the Big Bang. This competition from the beginning to the end is unforgetable. The Big Bang is a free for all with no rules. Admiring creativity alongside skill, this is the best contest I have ever been to. Just a good weekend of sessions with your old and new friends.
The idea is for people to group up and create a feature that they think will be fun. If someone else likes your idea they can join in on the building process and enjoy a session with you. The contest judges snowboard around the mountain and award prizes for creativity, best feature, best crash, best session, best trick etc. The contest inspires people to use their imagination, go out and build things themselves, and creates a strong sense of commuinty up on the mountain. Pleasantly, it is not an exclusive demo of pompus professionals like other competitions have become. The day is a mix of skiers and snowboarders of all abilites having a hootenany while supporting each other.
The features so far include a backcountry jump, hip, road gap and a rail set up by Jib Plaza. Over 200 competitors disregard the foggy weather and wet snow. They embrace it, twist, flip, and huck their bodies like hellions in the sky. This positive and supportive dynamic results in many peoples first 360’s and backflips.
The culture proves to provide the best learning environment for new snowboarders. People lose the sense of competitiveness and gain compassion while teaching and showing others what they like about snowboarding. This translates to the treatment we are receiving here in Chile. Parties in hot springs, BBQs with over 20 people, everyone enjoying the differences among each other, and working together to make the best of every day and night. The locals accept visitors with open arms, bringing people right into their homes and groups of friends with no second thought.
The contest proves to be a great success. Every year the number of competitors doubles and the event has sustained it’s exceptional esteem. Nothing can stand in the way of people striving to enjoy some of the best days possible. I feel lucky to witness a contest that can breathe new life back into one of the most amazing pastimes.
Towards the end of the two-day contest we begin to take pleasure in the other fun obstacles that plaster the mountain of Pucon. Small rope tows and old two person chair lifts would take us on our tour of the vintage ski slopes. I would agree to come back any day.
Why Go To Pucon
– Learn your first backflip
– Get your photo taken by Ricardo Sovino email him at [email protected]
– Meet Gonzo who can happily distribute anything in Chile with Ease. Email him at [email protected]
– Go to the most fun contest!
– Enjoy the best BBQ’s
– See something new.
– Make friends in South America.
Check out our video of the drive up to Pucon and some the best wrecks that took place during the Big Bang.
Check back soon for the next leg of their trip.