Chile certainly exceeded our expectations and we have had the best skiing so far
on our journey. We were lucky with some heavy snowfall followed by clear blue
sky the following day. Add condors in the blue sky, a different culture, friendly
people, a stunning mountain landscape and you’ll get a very good experience.
Yes, you also need to expect other things that may not work as well as in other
places, i.e. an entire valley having no electricity for more than 20 hours 2 days in
a row, lifts not working due to no electricity when there’s brilliant fresh powder on
the ground, big chance to be ripped off by taxi drivers – we did, etc.
First stop was Portillo, approx. 150 km from Santiago. It’s a high altitude (valley
base at 2500m and 800+ vertical meters) resort located in a stunning valley with a
lake covering the bottom of the valley – extremely beautiful. The winding road up
to the resort is exceptional and especially also since it’s the main road to Argentina
and totally covered with trucks. It’s most likely also the only main road in the world
that has a ski lift (chair) crossing above it.
More Portillo powder
The Portillo resort consists of a large hotel with an annex. We stayed in the annex,
small but OK. It was snowing heavily when we arrived, so we could just wait and see.
Next two days with clear blue sky and finding fresh powder all the time. The old rule
“move higher and further away” certainly works. With some traversing and booting
you certainly have access to some steep and deep brilliant skiing.
We have also learned that the winter in the world really starts in South America. If it
is good here now, it will certainly be a great winter all over the world 2007/2008.
We really hope that it’s right – have faith!!!
After a quick stop in Santiago, El Colorado was next. It’s about an hour drive from
Santiago. An amazing drive through an extraordinary landscape. We stayed at a hostel
(Refugio Aleman in Farallones). Basic hostel with an international mix of “interesting”
guests - definitely worth a visit.
Farallones is connected (lifts) with the higher altitude ski resort El Colorado (base at
2400m and 900 vertical meters). Lucky again, heavy snowfall the first day and clear
blue sky the next day. We were charging in the deep powder all day. Again, “a little
further up and away” gave new fresh powder every run. Great skiing in El Colorado
when it’s powder.
We finished of El Colorado with an irresistible long back country run down to a road
that we knew was a 3-4 hour walk away from the hostel. But we went for it all the way
down to the road. Luck again; hitch hiking with the third vehicle passing us –
a 10-meter truck from the 1950s. A bumpy way back (sitting on the back of the truck)
to the hostel. Still better then walking.
El Colorado powder
We also spent a day at the neighboring Valle Nevado. It’s bigger than El Colorado,
but not enough snow and we were hitting rocks all the time. It though has some
excellent potential with more snow and with a little hiking you’ll reach some great
skiing. Of course, wherever you hit the big snowfalls, it’s always best.
Chile has really surprised us and exceeded our expectations. Yes, we have been very
lucky with the weather, but the ski areas are also bigger and steeper than we expected.
Hope you have a chance to go here skiing some day. If you do, do not forget your
flashlight or headlight!!!
Did you know that Santiago has the second largest smog problem in the world.
Mexico City is no 1.
Now we are off to Ushuaia (Argentina) on the very bottom of South America to ski