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Most Amazing Powder Day

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
I'm starting to get pretty stoked for my annual South American ski pilgrimage, and I thought I'd share a special memory with y'all of a day I'll never forget. Feel free to add yours too.

Mind you, this was NOT my best powder SKIING day ever, you'll see why as you read. It was just an incredible experience, made so by a number of factors.

It was my 1st trip to Portillo, during the summer after my 3rd ski season. I had just learned of the whole southern hemisphere ski scene, and was anxious to check it out. I headed down for a Sunday to Saturday stay, on the solo tip cause none of my friends had the time or $$$.

So I got there, and basked in the beautiful sunshine and drank in the whole incredible scene that is Portillo. Lost day 1 due to altitude sickness, but got right back on track day 2. This happened to be Portillo’s best snow season in a decade, and conditions were awesome. Coverage was 100%, and the lake was frozen, so off piste was without limit. I hooked up with a bunch of folks by day 3 (Tuesday), and was having a hell of a time. And it was about to get a hell of a lot better.

After skiing Wednesday, we were all hanging in the bar after dinner, tipping a few pisco sours and Cristals (the local beer, not the P-diddy beverage of choice ), when it started to snow. And snow, and snow. By the time I had retired for the evening (earlier than normal in anticipation of tomorrow’s pow), 4-6” had accumulated on the window sill of my room.

By Thursday morning, it had reached epic proportions. About 18-24” on the ground, and still dumping. Everyone was in the dining room early, jonesing to hit first tracks. Alas, it wasn’t to be. Aside from the imminent avy danger, it was so windy and vis was so poor, that they only could open one little lift serving about 600’ vert. So we went and hammered it the best we could. Now here’s why this is not my best pow skiing day ever, I couldn’t ski powder!!! Never even saw it for chrissakes! But I was undeterred. I took all the pointers I could, snagged a pair of Chubbs, and went for it!

Well, by lunch, we were all pretty beat. Not so much from skiing for me, more like from constantly digging myself out of a wreck. I spent more time under the snow than on top of it. We ate lunch, and decided to trade our skis for snowshoes and go explore the area a bit. That was fun, extreme snowshoeing! We were hucking our carcasses off of all kinds of precipices, and landing in enormous drifts of powder. After all the exertion of the morning, I didn’t last too long on the shoes, so a couple of us called it quits for the day. Still snowing, mind you.

Well here’s where it gets good, Friday. The Portillo staff worked all night to groom out some stuff, and to bomb the cornices so that there’d be something for everyone to ski. Our crew got out bright and early to hit the Plateau chair, and first tracks in powder that was up to 3 feet deep in some spots. Incredible. It was a bluebird day with brilliant sunshine, smiles ear to ear, hoots, hollers and just mayhem on the slopes.

The best part? Road Closed!!! No one could get up the mountain, so less than 400 hotel guests got to wallow in the freshies for 3 days straight! I’ve got to give props to Dr. Doug from CT, who took pity on me, gave me pointers, and helped me find my lost ski in the deep (45 minutes, damn!) I learned the hard way that day that it is true, “No Friends on a Powder Day!” (‘cept Doug!)

Now I’m not gonna say that I was linking smooth powder turns by the end of the day, and for the next 2 days. But I sure had fun trying, and I developed my addiction to the sweet taste of cold smoke that persists to this day. It was just awesome to experience such an epic day in the Andes, under sunny skies, and with new friends, on the other side of the world!

I’ve gotten a little better in the deep, thanks to some practice at Snowbird and Targhee, and I’ll be down there in less than a month, chasing that high again. Hope I get a day half as good as the last one.
post #2 of 11
A ski trip to remember. You will post pictures on your return right? Have a wonderful trip and watch out for those Snowsnakes.
post #3 of 11
Thread Starter 
Oh yeah, full report w/pix to follow. Can't wait!
post #4 of 11
Oh man I'm so jealous!!!!!
post #5 of 11
Thanks! This was good fix while sitting here at my desk. Sounds like a great trip with many memories. Being an east-coast skiier, I have problems in deep pow myself. Glad you found your ski!
post #6 of 11
Thanks! You just reminded me that I had forgotten to pack powder cords for my late-August Chile trip. The last time I was there a few years back, we got 11 feet of snow in 10 days. 'Twas epic.
post #7 of 11
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by GeoffD
Thanks! You just reminded me that I had forgotten to pack powder cords for my late-August Chile trip. The last time I was there a few years back, we got 11 feet of snow in 10 days. 'Twas epic.
That's my time frame, where y'gonna be?
post #8 of 11
How is the snow this year in South America?
post #9 of 11
Thread Starter 
Not fantastic, but infinitely better than here on the East Coast.
post #10 of 11
It was awsome for me too, really nice snow, I skied in Valle NEvado and La parva, great powder on thursday.
There's some snow coming for wednesday again, be ready.
post #11 of 11
Thanks, awsome! hope I can get a week like that somewhere sometime.
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