Two Spanish freeriders have been bagging epic shots on their summer trip to the Andes.
A South America freeride trip is the stuff of dreams for many skiers north of the Equator. Aymar Navarro and Adrià Millan of Spain are living that dream right now.
On July 7, Navarro and Millan departed for their three-month journey to South America. They flew into Buenos Aires, then took a 15-hour bus ride to Mendoza, Argentina’s wine capital and gateway to the Andes. Since then they’ve been hitting freeride spots around the Mendoza area like Los Penitentes and Portillo across the border in Chile, while capturing great shots with handheld follow-cams and their Hexo+ drone.
Navarro and Millan have put out two “South Lines” episodes so far, and say they’d like to make at least four more before heading home in September.
The second episode of “South Lines” shows the Spanish duo tackling some big, beautiful terrain where avalanche risk is a definite concern. At several points in the video small slabs break off around the riders. This brings to mind the unfortunate fact that in recent years the Andes have seen several tragic avalanche-related incidents that took the lives of professional skiers and snowboarders.
The latest was Swedish freerider Mathilda Rapaport, who passed away two weeks ago after being buried in a slide in the Farellones region of Chile, not far from where the South Lines crew has been skiing. And a quick Internet search reveals that Navarro is no stranger to avalanches.
In light of all this, I asked Navarro how he has been managing risk on his South American journey. “We are aware of the risks we expose ourselves to, and we know it’s difficult terrain to read,” he says. “We only go up to high altitudes when the snow is quite stable and we believe that the risk is minimal or nil.”
Navarro adds that he and Millan wear helmets and back protectors, carry complete avalanche kits at all times including airbags, and pay close attention to the weather. But the huge variation in elevation makes it hard to get a perfect read, he says.
“It’s very difficult to know 100%, because at the base we’re at 2,200m and the the highest points that we reach are around 3,800 and 3,900m.” Navarro says. “We try to do everything possible to avoid any kind of risk.”
Other than that, what’s the word on South America? “The people are so good,” says Navarro. “And the big terrain.”