Snowboarding the Andes

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Patagonia holds a sense of mystery for snowboarders everywhere. As a half-Swiss-half-American, the idea of surfing on the powder of South American volcanoes seemed a fiction.  It was only when my plane’s wheels set down in Chile’s capitol Santiago and I was surrounded by the Andes that I began to believe.
 
After a 12-hour bus trip south, my first Patagonian snow was on Osorno Volcano. With the tremendous glistening blue Lake Llanquihue providing a backdrop, I considered my $1,000 plane ticket a fair trade for discovering another world.  A little extra hiking yielded untouched powder, with a sprinkling of igneous rocks poking out to watch for.  There are not a lot of off-piste options on this volcano, but what it lacks in trails it greatly makes up in amazing views.
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Extreme sports: Winter Desafio Aysen 2012 in Chilean Patagonia

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Coyhaique -- Teams from Chile, South Africa, France, Uruguay, Argentina, Brazil and Colombia showed their courage and face up to the challenges of kayaking, trekking and mountain biking and crossing lakes, rivers and mountains for two days of competition.

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Aysen Patagonia Ice Fest takes off

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Under the flight of numerous condors, a lot of snow and wind and temperatures dipping four degrees below zero Celsius, took place the third version of the only ice climbing competition in southern Chile.  During the last weekend of July, around 600 people were present to watch some 30 climbers and mountaineers, men and women from several regións across Chile, compete at intermediate and expert levels. 

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Trekking: Crossing the Andes

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Every February, Columbia’s Cruce de los Andes takes teams of two on a 100-kilometer mountain run from Argentina to Chile over three days. The route through Patagonia changes each year, but on a given day climbs to 2000 meters, splashes across rivers and includes some descents that are easiest achieved on your backside.

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Face to face with giants of the sea

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With enthusiasm, we left our baggage and headed straight to the ocean to the see if we had any luck. It was there, from the city shoreline and besieged by wind, the cold and hunger, that we had our first encounter with the whales. First, a blow in the form of a “V” on the horizon, then another one a little closer, and then a pair of tails submerging a mere 300 meters from the shore. It was breathtaking. We began to see in person all the fabulous things we’d heard about this place.

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