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South America Resort & Equipment Question

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
With this season in New England being a loss for several reasons, I am thinking of planning a "summer" trip to South America (that is, if I can talk my wife out of attending a wedding in Istanbul) ... I have a few questions for my more-experienced buddies on this site:

1.) Is there any resort you recommend ... or if that's too specific, could you maybe enlighten me on the difference between Chilean and Argentinan ski experiences?

2.) Do you know of a quality packaged trip planner?

3.) Are the snow conditions more similar to the Northeastern or Western US mountains? I guess what I am getting at is this: Are my/my wife's carving skis appropriate in South America, or are we better off renting fatter waist equipment?

Thanks in advance,

PS: I priced a week using skiportillo.com and Orbitz (for airfare), and it looks like it'd cost about $6,500 (for everything except rentals and alcohol) for a week. That's a bit steep for me. I hope to find a better package, else my ski vacation will pose no threat to her Istanbul wedding!
post #2 of 9
Run a search in Resorts/Conditions using portillo, and south america as keywords. There has been a lot of discussion there.

But real quickly, I'll offer .02 worth.

Portillo has gotten very expensive. If you can go shoulder or low season, you won't do too bad, but regular and high seasons are a rip.

After skiing Portillo 3 consecutive seasons, I have experienced the best conditions in a decade, and the worst conditions in 40 years. If they don't have 150 inches by July 1, don't even bother. And if the lake doesn't freeze, terrain is cut by 60%.

I'd monitor conditions starting in May, then decide. I'm also done with Portillo, and looking to try Las Lenas or Bariloche next.

I do, however, recommend that everyone who loves to ski goes to Portillo at some point, as it is truly beautiful and a one of a kind experience. There's no way on God's green earth that I'd spend $6500 to do it though.
post #3 of 9
Oh, and ski whatever you have. If there's a deep day, they have good rental stuff for a good price.
post #4 of 9
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by xdog1
There's no way on God's green earth that I'd spend $6500 to do it though.
My fear is exactly that: I'd spend $6500 and G-d's earth would be "green" not white!!!
post #5 of 9
Did you just consciously put a dash between G and d to avoid writing God?

Last I checked it's not a cuss word, and AC is allowing it.

Just curious.
post #6 of 9
Thread Starter 
I did intentionally. It's a Jewish thing, that one isn't supposed to write God, unless for prayer or religious text. I am not Jewish (wait, I am half Jewish!). My favorite write, Leonard Cohen, is. He writes it G-d. So I enjoy mimicking that. It makes me pause and think of his amazing books and poems before continuing with whatever drivel I am writing at the moment.
post #7 of 9
I did Las Lenas, Argentina last summer and Portillo, Chile two years before that. Both are good mountains, but Las Lenas can be cheaper and offers more options. At Portillo you must stay in the hotel where meals and lift tickets are included. It is an old hotel, but run in an upscale Euro way (waiters in suits, maids coming to your room everytime you leave for a few minutes, etc.) Las Lenas has several different price ranges of hotels, a hostel, and appartments by the week if you have a few people and want to shop at the one grocery store and cook your own meals. Plus, the backcountry options right off the area are incredible. The Argentine ecomomy is still suffering, so you get a lot for your US dollar (although our dollar is sinking). If you can have someone buy your plane ticket down there with pesos you can save some money.

The Portillo hotel only holds about 500 people, and they have almost no day skiers. Las Lenas village holds about 2,000 people, and they have no day skiers. Both places average about 10 to 15% north americans at any given time, although a big group can offset that number. If you want to do it cheap, and you don't speak Spanish very well, start practacing your sign language a/k/a "the international hand-jive".

The last two years the skiing in South America has pretty much sucked, due to warm weather and lack of snow. Book as late as possible to make sure that the conditions are worth the trip. Last week of August is a good time to go. Be advised that both areas are completely above treeline, so if it is snowing you can't ski because you can't see.

Check out southamericalski.com for custom designed vacations. Call (888) 754-1754 and talk to them about it. You might consider hitting Las Lenas and Baraloche. You should be able to do it way cheaper than $6,500 for a week. Definitely go! You will not reget it.
post #8 of 9
Thread Starter 
Great post! Thanks! I was a spanish major. That should help, but how it will help from a cost perspective is beyond me.
post #9 of 9
If you need people around you at the hotel and restaurant that speak English, you have to stay at a more expensive hotel, and even then their English is pretty bad. The cheaper the accomodations, the less likely you will find someone that speaks English. If you need to be met by an English speaking guide when you get off the plane in Buenos Ares, it will cost more. Can you get through customs, get to a hotel in town, and then to the domestic airport without help? If not, it'll cost you. Can you handle hassles with your lost baggage, passport, reservations, etc. in Spanish? If not, you know what.
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