Feature: Refugio Frey Is Paradise In Argentina
By Brigid Mander | October 5th, 2011
October 5, 2011
— Brigid Mander
While there are no hut systems in the southern cone, the occasional hut does exist. Most of these, however, require vastly more motivation, networking, and often, local connections to discover and access than anything you’ve experienced in North America or Europe. Refugio Frey, however, just outside Bariloche, Argentina, is one of several huts owned by the mountaineering group Club Andino Bariloche, and not only will they supply you with semi-useful maps, a marked trail, a sturdy, cozy, well-supplied hut with a caretaker, but it is surrounded by a whole lot of powdery basins and valleys with mind blowing, aesthetic descents.
Access from several access routes can take anywhere from three to seven hours, depending on your skills, the snow and how fast you move. You can actually hike along a ridge and drop off the back from Cerro Catedral, which takes a few hours, or skin around the ski area on a mellow route until the final climb — which also takes three to four hours total, if you are fast. The stone hut is spectacularly perched at the mouth of a basin, on the edge of a frozen lake.
Head in, make friends, dump your gear, and gawk out the back window at the insane lines, like the drool-worthy Tres Marias, that are yours for the taking. A labyrinth of wide chutes, narrow chutes, pinners and features, formed by a collection of spires and rock walls flank the lake, dropping in steeply and opening up onto amazing aprons over the lake. Try not to get too overwhelmed as you realize that across the valley is another plethora of huge lines. Hmmm. You might, in fact, want to leave the bottle of whiskey behind and bring your extra A-game. With stamina, you can easily kill two weeks here — if the weather cooperates, of course. So ... maybe bring the whiskey, just in case.
Logistically, you’ll want to bring everything you would to your average hut. You can bring your food (you have to pay extra to use the kitchen) or you can eat breakfast and dinner that the refugiero will cook, which is, of course, a luxury that will rapidly add up. Otherwise, for 50 pesos a night, it is powder slaying galore. Stop in to the Club Andino office in BRC for info, register in the Parques Nacionales (you are in the Nahuel Huapi park) office across the street, bring cash to pay and don’t forget to tip the refugiero at the hut.
FYI for allergic people: A cat (Shhazz in Argentine, Jaz to everyone else) lives there all year round, and refugieros occasionally have dogs.
Location: Argentina Argentina Keywords: Backcountry Powder Lifestyle Ski Snowboard Feature Stories Backcountry Features Trip Report Features Travel