Hourglass, Las Leñas, Argentina

Skiing in Europe and North America is really popular but there is one resort in the Southern hemisphere that offers almost unlimited offpiste – and backcountry skiing. This place is Las Leñas in Argentina. With over 200 documented offpiste / backcountry runs it is a true mecca for skiers all over the world. One of the finest runs accessible without much effort is Hourglass, a beautiful steep couloir…

During my one year ski trip (not only skiing…) I was looking forward to at least one month of great skiing at Las Leñas. I had been there before on shorter trips and the promise of skiing some of the steep runs in ideal conditions made me happy. However, mother nature decided the winter of 2013 to be a lousy one. Mid-July there was no offpiste skiing possible due to the lack of snow. I had to wait until August 8 for the first big storm of the season. An additional storm was still needed to make sure your skis would survive a day of skiing the goods. Mid-August I planned my perfect arrival. A 20 centimeter dump two days earlier was followed by a closure of the infamous chairlift Marte which made my first day a true powder day. After skiing some classics together with an Argentine I had met earlier that day, it was time to venture a little bit further outside the boundaries of the ski area…

skiing the top section of Hourglass

skiing the top section of Hourglass

I was looking for an area called “Sans Nom”, a collection of steep chutes I wanted to ski for years now. Together with Simon, the Argentine guy, I hiked across the plateau adjacent to the Iris pomalift and passed the entrances of Mercurio, Paraiso and Sombrero. I was pretty sure the next one would be Sans Nom, not knowing much about Hourglass. I had seen pictures of Sans Nom before, so on arrival at the entrance I was pretty sure this was not it. However, this run looked soooo good, we decided to go for it. There were only a couple of tracks and still plenty of space was available to leave our signatures behind. A quite intimidating start of approximately 50 degrees funnels down into some sort of a choke before you continue to the left into a beautiful couloir that is a little less steep, maybe 40 degrees.

skiing the lower section of Hourglass

skiing the lower section of Hourglass

I skied first before Simon followed. We carefully passed “the choke” before we made our way left and skied a more typical couloir. Snow was great all the way down and after skiing the long couloir things opened up. Big GS-turns were linked one after the other before we arrived on the path leading back to the resort. When I got back to the hostel in Los Molles, a nearby town, it turned out the owner made the other tracks with a friend of him earlier that day. He mentioned that Hourglass is his favourite run in Las Leñas because it is steep, doesn’t attract a lot of traffic and you don’t have to hike much to access it. I agree.

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