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Portillo, Chile: August 2011

post #1 of 94
Thread Starter 
Well, it's been a struggle but we finally made it. We were stuck in Santiago in Saturday because the road to Portillo was closed due to new snow.

This morning, the shuttle service called our hotel to say that we probably wouldn't make it today either. Then, we got a call at 11am saying the road was going to open for a brief window to get hotel guests in and out. We hustled our stuff together and jumped in the vans.

Here is the highway leaving Santiago with rain falling:

Untitled by BobPetersJH, on Flickr

Because the road was closed to all traffic but the hotel, we passed MILES of trucks parked along the highway waiting for it to reopen.

Untitled by BobPetersJH, on Flickr

Here we are coming to the exit for Portillo. We had to go through an army checkpoint and prove we had hotel reservations.

Untitled by BobPetersJH, on Flickr

At the bottom of the 32 switchbacks that lead up the final pass to the resort, we had to sto and put chains on the vans. Now here is an interesting fact: that guy helping put chains in the left front tire just happens to be Mike Rogan. He is the General Manager of the Portillo resort. We thanked him and headed up the hill, amazed that the big boss would be out grubbing in the muck helping guests get to the resort. The GM at Jackson Hole wouldn't be caught dead doing something as menial (or IMPORTANT) as that.

Untitled by BobPetersJH, on Flickr

Avalanche shed:

Untitled by BobPetersJH, on Flickr

This is what greeted us as we finally pulled into the hotel at 4pm:

Untitled by BobPetersJH, on Flickr

They have had close to a meter and a half of snow since Friday. We got checked in just in time to make four runs on the little chairlift near the hotel. The light was flat as could be, but we were skiing great, fluffy boot top powder. In Portillo! Eureka.

We don't know what will be open tomorrow as they need to do avi control everywhere. Whatever is open, it should be great.

I can't begin to describe how cool the vibe is here. Everybody - from old farts like me to little kids - is just oozing enthusiasm for skiing. There are languages and accents from all over the world. The staff is friendly and engaged, and the whole facility is incredible.

I'll do photos of actual skiing mañana.
post #2 of 94

Awesome report!

post #3 of 94


Say hi to Michael & Robin for me.  Looks like you are hitting it at the right time.


post #4 of 94

Looks awesome. I could use a little of that right now .... enjoy!

post #5 of 94

Looks fabulous.  We summer-bound mere mortals anxiously await your TR, and hope you will be able to stop long enough to take a few delicious photos.        snowfalling.gif

post #6 of 94

Wow, that was anti-climactic. I saw BP and Portillo and figured there would be some sweet ski pics. Not tonight.

post #7 of 94

ahh the joys of Chilean  highways...  glad you made it  up and conditions are going to be good.  The flat light there can be unbelievable.  Bottom line, there's nothing like skiing in Chile in August :) Looking forward to more. 

post #8 of 94

Way to go Mike Rogan.

post #9 of 94

Thank you very much for the initial report -- I look forward to reading the rest. I intend to ski Portillo, or another South American location, in August 2013 for my 50th birthday, so even this information about the road up is fascinating.


post #10 of 94
Originally Posted by 4ster View Post


Say hi to Michael & Robin for me.  Looks like you are hitting it at the right time.


Me too!

You'll recognize her by her Huge Smile and the last name Barnes n830505017_5026479_8915.jpg

post #11 of 94

Bob....  I'm not so sure about our GM not jumping into the "fray".  I heard an apocryphal story about said GM and a comment he made about replacing all the prima-dona ski instructors with a group of chimps.  The story goes on that on one of the sold out days the GM "stepped up" and took out a private lesson group himself.  According to the story the guests asked for their money back after the "lesson".  I am not sure that I believe this story is true, but it gets passed around.

post #12 of 94

Sounds like you found a good place to be right now.

post #13 of 94



Portillo is fantastic when it is good, but your trip (so far) illustrates one of the drawbacks of skiing there, Las Lenas, and many other S.A. ski areas, they have absolutely no trees. If it storms you cannot see anything.  I'm looking forward to a TR with some pics this week. Hopefully the weather and avi conditions will be resolved and we'll get to see that S.A gem for the beauty it can be.  A "meter and half of snow" should be pretty incredible, and it sounds like you and the other hotel guests will have it pretty much to yourselves.



"The Roca Jack es caca loca!"

Edited by mudfoot - 8/8/11 at 8:07am
post #14 of 94
Originally Posted by mudfoot View Post

 Las Lenas, and many other S.A. ski areas, they have absolutely no trees. If it storms you cannot see anything.

Very true.  I arrived at the tail end of big storm that had LL closed for a whole week one time.   The opened a couple of the lower lifts on my first day and and the viz was really bad, so I took it kind of easy.   Some of the people that had been there the whole week without skiing,  came out charging and it was complete and utter carnage.


post #15 of 94

oh yeah, we had to set up a relay chain one day in the Olympic range (VN) as there was zero visibility, each skier went about 50 yds and then then next and so on. One guy went off about a 10' drop, fortunately, it was powder.

post #16 of 94
This is great - keep it coming.
post #17 of 94
Thread Starter 
Day 1 (first full day anyway) was stellar.

It snowed through the night with about another 12cm of snow. Here was the view out my hotel window when I woke up at 7am:

Untitled by BobPetersJH, on Flickr

We skied the little lift for about two hours while they did avi control. Saw a couple of fair-sized skiffs but nothing huge. Here is one of the sluffs:

Untitled by BobPetersJH, on Flickr

They opened the quad That leads to the Plateau and Tio Bob's around 11am. It was all untracked, but I have to say it was a powder frenzy that would have looked completely at home at Alta. The lift lines were very short, but the slopes got completely clobbered within 2.5 hrs. We had some GREAT powder skiing during that time, but I didn't get all that many photos because our crew wasn't about to slow down to let me set up photos. Here are the best I could do:

Untitled by BobPetersJH, on Flickr

Untitled by BobPetersJH, on Flickr

Untitled by BobPetersJH, on Flickr

About the time the main lift got totally tracked, they opened the Condor slingshot lift. It was our first time riding a lift like that and believe me, it's a hoot:

Untitled by BobPetersJH, on Flickr

That kept us going for another hour or so. Then we did lunch,

Untitled by BobPetersJH, on Flickr

The sun came out and this was the view from our lunch table at the hotel:

Untitled by BobPetersJH, on Flickr

Up the quad after lunch, four pairs of Head skis on the chair...

Untitled by BobPetersJH, on Flickr

Here is the avi control helicopter returning to the base after working most of the day on the Roca Jack side of the mountain. Hopefully that means more terrain for tomorrow.

Untitled by BobPetersJH, on Flickr

We finished off the day with beers and Pisco Sours at Tio Bob's and skied to the bottom at 4:45pm:

Untitled by BobPetersJH, on Flickr

I'm tired now and going to bed.

More tomorrow.

at which time the sun came out for a few minutes:
post #18 of 94

Sweet! icon14.gif

post #19 of 94

Nice stoke. Keep it coming!

post #20 of 94

Looking forward to see more in order to soothe my withdrawal symptoms.icon14.gif

post #21 of 94

polvo nieve e' muy beuno!  perfecto!  very glad to see things are shaping up.  You should be able to find decent stuff for the next few days, 

post #22 of 94


Finally the ski season in the central Andes is looking good.


I spent last week in Valle Nevado with some friends and we were very lucky regarding snow. We got 3 big storms during the week. about 3-4 feet of fresh pow. Just enough to cover the rocks making off-piste skiing possible... although I hit tons of rocks while exploring the ungroomed terrain...


Enjoy your trip!


post #23 of 94

Been emersed in golf since mid April, haven't really missed skiing till this TR.  Tremendous. Glad to hear your trip coincided with the fresh snow so well. I got a pair of the Titan's this past spring. I guess on the right feet they can ski anything even a meter and a half of frsh snow!

post #24 of 94

We expect no less than the "Bob Peters Effect" - a big storm arriving just as you do. snowfalling.gif

post #25 of 94
Thread Starter 
Today was schizo.

We had sun early this morning and they opened the Roca Jack slingshot lift. We were among the first to get there and had some really, really good powder skiing.

For those of you who have never ridden (or heard of) these lifts, they are a real trip. There is a suspended cable running WAY up to an anchor in the rock face. Hanging from the cable is a four or five-person poma bar. You all get lined up at the bottom, give a signal to the operator, and the lift takes off with the riders surfing along like water skiers. Believe me, you are hanging on for dear life.

As it turns out, it's not a total disaster if you lose your grip or get bucked off... You just sort of get left ignominiously in the wake of the other riders. This type of lift is obviously designed specifically for avalanche areas, because there are no towers or chairs to get destroyed by avalanches. These things are intimidating as hell when you first see them, but they're kind of a hoot when you ride them a few times.

Here is the Roca Jack lift over Dave's smiling face.

Untitled by BobPetersJH, on Flickr

And this is what Dave is smiling about. Steep powder with Lake of the Incas below.

Untitled by BobPetersJH, on Flickr

And Karen on the same line.

Untitled by BobPetersJH, on Flickr

Peter and Linda enjoying a little marital bliss.

Untitled by BobPetersJH, on Flickr

Some powder further down.

Untitled by BobPetersJH, on Flickr


Untitled by BobPetersJH, on Flickr

By late morning, the patrol closed the Roca lift because of sun cooking the slopes we were skiing and concern for avalanches Coming down from higher up in the crags. We went over and skied the Plateau side for a couple hours and the clouds came back with a vengeance. By that time, the sun was no longer baking the Roca Jack side, so they opened it again.

This time, we rode the CaraCara slingshot lift. Now, I have skied quite a bit over a lot of years. I have NEVER encountered visibility as flat as what we had off that lift. The untracked snow was pretty good (it had thickened a lot due to the earlier sunshine), but we were skiing an area of flutes and rock outcroppings that were totally unfamiliar. I could literally not make out any definition ten or twenty feet below me. Survived the whole thing, but a little vis sure would have been nice.

I didn't take any photos after the clouds rolled in, but we had a great time over on the Las Vizcachas slingshot. Untracked snow with a little avi debris thrown in to keep you on your toes.

It was a really good day with some really exciting skin, but most of it did not make for good photos.

At dusk tonight, the clouds blew out. With any luck, we'll be able to see our way around this place mañana.
post #26 of 94


post #27 of 94

Muey bueno, Bob.  Nice photos.

post #28 of 94

very cool;  so did the pow get hoovered up? over in VN, a little different clientele, no one rushes out for the pow.   The snow quality looks pretty good too. 

post #29 of 94

The one with his arms out to the sides says it all right there!! smile.gif

post #30 of 94

Great Stuff!

On day 1, what was that on your plate?

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