Here is Telemark’s perspective on the conference and resort so far…
Ushuaia, the black and white of this place is as contrasting as the way the locals describe their home. ‘We are either at the end of the earth or the beginning’ they say.
The streets are patrolled by child out Husky dogs who wander about the town when not curled up on the sea shore a km or so from the middle of town. Locals cruise the streets in their early model dirty VW’s… music blasting. If they are hindered in their parade along the one way street grid they are on their horns to remind their neighbours they are behind them!
Every car we see is fitted with studded tyres and they are all the same dirt colour (no one washes a car here) and have the same holes in exhausts for cruising the streets. When you have a look around and see past the obvious infrastructure challenges of living at below 50 degrees south, there is a mix of the old, the new, part built and almost finished.
It is the pioneering spirit and adaptability that add colour to the town and area. The numerous hotels and eateries (BBQ meat on offer everywhere) add to that colour. The adventure tourism in the summer, from mountain hiking and a bit of mountain biking ( I may have to come back) in the Ushuaia National park, to the port you would leave from to visit Antarctica also contribute to the feel of the place. The winter is skiing and dog sledding. There is a pack of what seems like 100 dogs on the tundra by the local ski area where trips are offered in the national park. Then there is the ‘new’…. the police have 4 track 4×4’s (see pic).
Speaking of National parks, the trees and mountains are so like the remote Southern Fiordland of NZ, not as lush, but Beech trees and what looks like a close relative are the dominant trees. There is little or no low growing flora as there is snow covering the forest floor. Even the houses or apartments are barren of any plants, trees or anything that would resemble a garden.
But adding colour is not everything. I look past the necessities that the community need to live here and there is the Beagle Strait out to sea and the most amazing alps perched just behind the town making this a fantastic and gripping frontier enticing me to stay longer and explore.
Then there is the bright colours and dark greys of our learning and sharing Interski mission. Today was the NZSIA, SBINZ and the Telemark’s presentation day. But then I was late back to the bus after presenting my clinic twice, morning and afternoon, and then celebrating a great day of learning and sharing by ripping a fantastic line through the trees to the base buildings with the guys from our clinic. The Grey- unfortunately I had to turn down the offer of teaching kids at the local ski school, as I felt I had a greater responsibility to go to the four telemark clinics that are being presented tomorrow so we can add value to the value of coming to Ushuaia that I know to be a privilege.
The black and white of this Southern world is coloured by the knowledge shared and gained in an invigorating and compelling conference.
words and pictures Greg McIntyre