One of the coolest places we visited on our last South America trip, Refugio Frey is a tiny alpine hut surrounded by a paradise of couloirs and granite spires. I was excited to return. A few days after arriving in Chile, after a long series of bus, plane, and taxi rides we arrived in Bariloche, Argentina. Hearing of relatively good conditions up high, we decided to head up to “The Frey.”
We stocked up with five days worth of food, caught a bus to Cerro Catedral ski area, and started up the trail with towering, heavy packs. We carried a tent, stove, and other winter gear since we planned to camp near the hut. The extra gear negated the usual advantage of going to a hut: light packs. Nonetheless, we slowly followed the trail, and made it to the hut just before dark.
The next day we slept in, and then headed up the valley to investigate the snow and avalanche conditions in the couloirs. We found wind-affected snow, with areas of rock-hard windboard, and other areas of touchy wind slab–a stark contrast to the fantastic powder conditions we found two years ago. We skied a few chutes and enjoyed stellar views of the surrounding mountains. The mountains around Frey are stunning and I took tons of pictures. Check it out!
Although the skiing was enjoyable, conditions didn’t call for lapping chutes for days on end. That night, talking over a giant pot of pasta in the refugio, we decided a longer ski-tour was in order. We settled on a tour to Refugio Jakob, a nearby hut that isn’t staffed in the winter but is left open to visitors. Weather was forecast to get worse in a few days, so we packed light packs and decided to leave the following morning. Stay tuned for Part 2 about our adventure over to Refugio Jakob.