Pacha Mama: Exploring a Snow-Less Chile

Posted By: The Ski Channel on August 7, 2012 4:08 am

Pacha Mama is a deity of Andean cultures.  Her role is essentially that of Mother Nature.  While she is normally revered as good and just, I think she may be upset with us.  Another dry season here in the central cordillera of Chile has us scratching our heads, and conjuring schemes to bribe Pachamama into dropping a little snow into our playground.  So far nothing has worked.

Donny Roth in Chile - View from the Top

Each day we rise, get ready, and head out to search for soft snow hidden in shady valleys and obscure cracks.  Each day there is a little less reason to be optimistic.  Every day is a reminder of the ephemeral nature of the snowflake, a reminder that the euphoria that comes with stellar conditions is something to be cherished. 

I tend to draw from surfers to maintain a positive outlook.  Mountain bikers, rock climbers, trail runners, and even resort skiers in the U.S. rarely have to take a day off because of poor conditions.  Surfers, on the other hand, sometimes wait long stretches of time before the waves roll in just right.  Surfers that use this downtime to explore the ocean and polish their skills become true “waterman.”  This is inspirational.

Donny Roth in Chile - Skiing

Donny Roth in Chile - Skiing in Distance

Watermen are the people that can do much more than surf.  They swim and dive like fish.  They understand the ocean and the weather.  They can catch their own food.  They can play in the water on a board, or with a kite, or by paddling, or with nothing at all.  They develop these skills by seeing the ocean as a playground worth exploring, much more than simply surfing as a pastime. 

When pachamama deals us pretty crappy conditions, I try not to follow the herd of skiers to the bar or to other sports.  I think of the waterman, and ask, “What would he be doing?”  There are always things to learn in the mountains and places to explore.  I think this is going to be one of those seasons.