A Look Back with Big Mountain: SASS Argentina

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SVSEF IFSA Big Mountain Coach Conor Davis spent a couple weeks down in Argentina as part of SASS Global Travel. Along for the trip were two SVSEF athletes, who benefitted from small group sizes, pro guides, and a wealth of experience to be gained with such a heavy focus on avalanche safety and exploring the backcountry in a foreign environment. Here, Conor reflects on his time in the Andes.
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What did a typical day look like, or did they all vary?
We would wake up at 7am and breakfast was over at 8. We would then walk to the mountain at 9am and ski till 4pm – a 7-hour day outside. The first day started off with an avalanche introduction PowerPoint, and our skin the first day was focused on avalanche rescue drills. With this initial day of avalanche experience under our belts, the following days were filled with touring outside the resort and exploring all around the Andes. If the weather was bad, we would go into Bariloche, get a good meal and eat a bunch of chocolate.
What was the most valuable thing your athletes learned?
Traveling to a different country helps an athlete to grow mentally, emotionally and physically. We
learned how to order food in Spanish, and definitely developed our backcountry skillset. One day we hiked out into the backcountry to build a jump and there was a lot of progression in the air.

This was a great opportunity for you, as well – what did you take
away from the trip? What did you learn from the perspective of a guide?

The SASS team is an extremely professional group of individuals, and I learned a lot from them. One of  the main things I took away from the Sass guides was their backcountry group travel protocol.
What surprised you, if anything, about the experience?
There’s no hot sauce in Argentina. I will definitely bring a bottle if I get the opportunity to go down there again.
What are you looking forward to applying to your coaching/training
plan for the 18/19 season with SVSEF athletes?

I will be updating the coaches’ travel protocol with the athletes. We’ll be adding a lot more beacon/transceiver checks.
Why do you think it’s important to travel to ski in different places?
It’s important to travel to ski in different places because one’s life experience shouldn’t be limited in scope. Skiing is an amazing sport that allows you to see different cultures and gives you the opportunity to learn other languages.