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The "other" hemisphere... - Page 2

post #31 of 43
I stayed at the El Escorpio last year (end of Aug. beginning of Sept.) and they had no snow. It was a dusty walk from the Hotel down to a strip of snow that was trucked in nightly. We took the chair up and skied off the Marte Lift, but everything below that was closed. At the end of the day there was a 15 ft. wide strip of snow, dirt, and rocks back down to the bottom. 50 degrees everyday and people walking around in shorts in the village. Fortunately it was easy climbing above and around the area, so we found plenty of Andean sweetcorn.

I think there is more snow in that picture from last week than they had all last year. If it is a good snow year in S.A. I would not hesitate to go back to Las Lenas instead of Portillo. The skiable terrain does not compare. Twice the vertical, at least twice the number of runs, and much easier access to off-area options, much of which feeds back to chairs.
post #32 of 43
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by Hoback Hank
What Up, Dawg?

I am considering taking my girlfriend to Portillo in late August, 1st time in S.A. We are both advanced skiers. A couple of questions:

--Lift-serviced terrain looks limited by USA West standards. What is the local policy and accessibility on "out of bounds" hikeable steeps?

--Thinking about a couple of nights in Santiago. Worthwhile? She speaks fluently... I've been to Taco Bell.

--Ever had trouble getting up the pass from Santiago?

--The hotel and "vibe" seems appealing. How's the food?



The only reason I'm not JONGing you and directing you to the search function, is because I'm buzzed, and I love discussing SA skiing. That, and I like your screen name.

Anyway, in order;

1- The place skis small when you're limited to lifts. OB policy is very good when avy danger is low. If the lake is frozen, you're golden. (That's where many of the good OB lines terminate)

2- Santiago is definitely worth a few days. I almost bought an apartment!
Try the Boulevard Suites in Las Condes, or the Crowne Plaza on Alameda. Don't miss Barrio de Bellavista, the Chilean Greenwich Village.

3- Yes, but it's uncommon.

4- Awesome, your belly will thank you.

post #33 of 43
Here's a shot I took of Marte lift in 2001

post #34 of 43
Yes Craigieburn is steep, there is not one green run on the mountain. Probably similar to Snowbird in steepness without the trails. The mountain is as nature made it, only trail carved into the mountain is so they can get fuel and equipment up to the top tow sheds in summer. Au natural......

Yes, when you stay on the mountain at the NZ club ski areas, you do have some chores rostered. You have one duty a day, eg. breakfast dishes, or help prepare dinner. It is all part of the experience and helps you meet others. It also keeps costs down. If you like your creature comforts then it may not be for you. But if you want to meet other like minded skiers, then it is the best way that I know. I don't hesitate on going up there on my own for a weekend cause I know there will always be someone to ski with, to eat dinner with, or have a drink at the bar with. If I went to a commerical field on my own, I'd be spending the day on my own.
post #35 of 43
This is a better link . I have posted a few photos from my SA trip in 2001 . Las Lenas,Catedral,Chillan,Portillo
post #36 of 43
I've had my week in Las Lenas (details and a few pics at http://www.firsttracksonline.com/boa...pic.php?t=1164) and can comment on some of the remarks in this thread.

1. Lift facilities are still 1980's vintage and you are dependent upon Marte to realize full potential. They did not excavate Marte for 10 days after the late August storm as they expected more snow. Fortunately we got one day with it open and good weather. Joe Lammers, the Extremely Canadian lead guide who has been skiing Las Lenas at least 2 weeks a season for over a decade, claims Marte is down about 1/4 of the time. Even so, Las Lenas terrain without Marte is comparable to Mt. Hutt or Treble Cone. If you get Marte and decent visibility half your time there you will be delighted with the quality of skiing if you like long ungroomed steeps. Just bring your own gear and don't depend upon their sketchy selection of rentals.

2. Room accommodations at Escorpio are basic, but the food is good, service excellent and it has ski-in-ski-out location. We were over at Piscis after skiing for my son to use its free WiFi, and the public areas certainly looked upscale, including the pool and spa that I poached after our big ski day Sept. 8. Escorpio has more of a retro ski lodge atmosphere, particularly when Extremely Canadian is occupying about half their rooms.

3. Joe Lammers was able to get me complete snowfall history for Las Lenas. The average, measured at the bottom of the mountain, is a little over 260 inches. No one knows how much more it snows higher up, but preservation is very good up there. The key factor is huge volatility; 3 of their 22 seasons have been total wipeouts with less than 6 feet of snowfall all year. The record 2002 season was 492 inches, and Marte was well buried part of the time. So I stand by my original advice of wait for a good start and then book. If it's dry before and during your trip the corn snow skiing is still great as long as there's an adequate base. This year Las Lenas has been publishing its running snowfall total online (now 930 cm.) which should help in making a decision if they continue the practice.

Having been to New Zealand twice and reading online reports since 1997, there is little question in my mind that there is far more snow on average in the Andes. Neither region has trees for bad weather skiing, and there are certainly more off-hill alternatives in NZ if the skiing is shut down. But for pure quality of skiing Las Lenas is the best Southern Hemisphere destination.
post #37 of 43
I went to Portillo

Look here for photos. All skiers in chutes, bumps, powder are me except where obvious.

http://www.k2factoryteam.com/idealbb/view.asp?topicID=1742&sessionID=E20A457C8A1543A28E 03029AF64CB905
post #38 of 43
Opinions please

What would be better -- a week
1. divided between Portillo and Valle Nevado
2. Las Lenas

Can only do one....want steeps, good snow, good transfers, etc
post #39 of 43
Valle Nevado, if that is the one close to Santiago, based on what I hear, is not worth it. While the upper mt is good it is frequently more often than not, closed to due to winds and the lower mt is not great.
post #40 of 43
Valle Nevado is the one close to Santiago. All of these areas have no trees and are exposed to wind and weather. Portillo gets the most snow, but all have high volatility and are probably closely correlated to each other. Weather at Portillo/Valle Nevado/Las Lenas tends to be crystal clear or insanely dumping, not unlike similar latitude/altitude areas here (Mammoth, Arizona Snowbowl, Taos, Wolf Creek).

I have not been to Chile, but I have no doubt that for terrain/expert skiing Las Lenas is tops if weather/snow are cooperative. Las Lenas also has the riskier downside for the majority of terrain that is unavailable if Marte doesn't operate. Part of this risk is due to 1980's vintage lifts and management that is not as diligent about keeping Marte open as we would expect by North American standards.

If you go Saturday-to-Saturday the Buenos Aires-Malargue connection is convenient. If you want other days of the week, less than a week stay, etc. Las Lenas can be quite inconvenient. The better hotels also want the Saturday-to-Saturday business.

Lots more flexibility in Chile for varying length of stay, visiting multiple areas, extending the trip for non-skiing tourism IMHO.
post #41 of 43
Can you day-trip to Portillo from Santiago?

Is it possible to drive from Santiago to Portillo to Las Lenas to Buenos Aires?

What should expectations be?
post #42 of 43
Originally Posted by chrisc
Can you day-trip to Portillo from Santiago?
No. It's a 2-3 hour drive or a 45 minute heliflight.

Is it possible to drive from Santiago to Portillo to Las Lenas to Buenos Aires?
I think so. To my knowledge which is limited the only road or one of the only roads from Chile to Argentina goes through Portillo. It's a bitch of a road.
post #43 of 43
It is a 2-3 hour drive from Santiago to Portillo, but a mile past the resort is the Argentine border, and when we were there the truck traffic was backed up for a couple of miles on the Chile side, so our driver had to drive up about 20 switchbacks in the oncoming traffic lane. A wild ride but the only way to avoid taking hours to go the last few miles. When it storms the road is often closed for a couple days at a time. Bottom line, you can do it as a day trip but you are taking a small risk that it may not work out.

I have not done it but everyone I talked to did not recommend driving across the Andes in the winter from Portillo to Las Lenas. The drive from LL to BA would be pretty easy but takes about 15 hours.

Valle Nevado is the day skiing area for Santiago, so it gets a lot of people on the weekends and from what I heard is not worth going out of your way to ski. I have skied Portillo and Las Lenas and if the snow and weather are cooperative I think LL is has much better skiing with twice the vertical. The descriptions above are very good.
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