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Destination - South America

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
Hey ho skiers,
I was either hitting up Europe next month (if I do not get my rafting job here in CO) or going to South America to ski at the end of summer/early fall. I was thinking Argentina and Chile. Las Lenas and Portillo are all I know of, and my knowledge is limited. Anyone been down there? Is it do-able on a limited budget? I heard there is like one hotel to stay at, and that it is expensive (Portillo), true? I want to make this like a month long trip, and I am not a plastic surgeon or high profile lawyer. In other words, I cant be spending a shizz-ton of money. If you got any advice or knowledge, help me out.

ps - it got up to 50' at Keystone today. In February.
post #2 of 18
If your going for a month, you can do Las Lenas much cheaper. Wait until August to book and go in September. You could probably get by on about two grand if your careful.
post #3 of 18
If you want to go to Chile your best bet would be to stay in Santiago, wich has like 4 ski resorts within an hour of the city (Farellones, Valle Nevado, La Parva and El Colorado, i think...)

i live there, so i don't know how expensive lodging is, but i know that for other expenses (lift tickets, transportation, food) you would probable need a grand, since tickets are like 40 bucks a day...

Valle Nevado has the only high speed quad in the country...
post #4 of 18
Thread Starter 

nother question

here is an important question, does the language barrier become a problem? i have a very limited spanish vocabulary, and have no idea the local dialect to either area.
post #5 of 18
As someone who has backpacked 15 different countries including ones that use the Cyrilic Alphabet it's incredibly suprising how fast you pick that up. Especially if you can get someone who knows shoddy english and just about someone everywhere will, especially around the resorts. I went to Itally a couple of summers ago knowing about 1 year of C- Spanish from high school (good thing the teacher liked winning Football teams ) and by the end of a week I was reading the morning sports section in Italian trying to find out who won the big football (soccer) match the night before. Spanish is becoming easier and easier for americans to learn because of it's influx into american society. Get a good phrase book and learn about 10 phrases before you go - you'll pick the rest up as you go.

the most important being:
Do you speak english?
Where is the market?
How much?
Where is the bathroom?
What time is... close/open/ciesta etc (many latin countries observe a mid day nap that's pretty prevelent)
Also learn to count to 10 so you can break down the answers by the didgets you should be fine.

I bet if you tried you could learn enough in 2 weeks to be very dangerous at spanish.
post #6 of 18
I did a 3 week trip through Chile and Argentina last season, staying at Valle Nevado, Portillo and Las Lenas. The best resort in my opinion is Valle Nevado. Chile is more professional than Argentina to begin with but the lifts in VN go to the top of the mountain, unlike Las Lenas and Portillo, making avi control much quicker. Lots of down days in Argentina if it snows and it can be frustrating watching patrol get up at around 8 am and do nothing when you are waiting to ski. That said, if you do a month, it is cheaper to wait around Las Lenas. There is also cheap accomodation away from the resort, which is harder to find at Portillo and VN. For VN, staying in Santiago whould be a real pain in the @ss, if only because the roads to the resorts can be closed after snow. Portillo is probably the most expensive to stay in or around. The best terrain, however, is in Las Lenas, when it is open. Plus they have a park (as does VN, Portillo does not) for the non-pow days. There is also a cat-ski option in Las Lenas, I just remember heli at Portillo and VN. I am actually thinking of spending the whole season down there this year (I am about to post a request for advice on a one year ski sabbatical) and I have a good freind living in Chile and involved in the ski industry so send me a msg if you want further info.
post #7 of 18
i have a friend, a chilean instructor whom i worked with in the 70s and 80s, who puts together cheap ski tours to chile every summer.
great guy, i see him every week or so. he could hook you up with work or what-have-you.
if you'd like i can put you in touch with him.
post #8 of 18
Thread Starter 

That could work for sure

Both of the above posts would be really sweet help. Working under the table could totally extend the trip, does he have extra living quarters (kidding)? i guess my spanish will be sufficient, i know verbs and nouns and whatnot, just no conjugation. when i was in spain and italy, people talked so fast and so differently i didnt really understand a thing.
is it easy to get from mtn to mtn with buses or trains like in europe, or is it as big a nightmare as i think ive heard? and i think i would lose my mind if there was downtime/no skiing time. i am regaining my love for the park (since it has been over 40' the last week or two in summit co.) so if i could at least do that it wouldnt be too bad.
so, basically, id love to get in touch with as many connections as possible, collect as much info as possible before i take off for a hemisphere ive never entered.
thanks again,
post #9 of 18

S American

Been to Portillo. Mightwant to check on employment there, they have employee lodging etc., could be a possibility for a long stay. No high speed quads but have a high speed 5 person T bar that is almost more fun to ride up then to ski down from. Portillo has 2 restaurants, l on hill serving lunch. A pretty active bar, a gym, ski instruction a lot of race training by WC teams, in case any of that falls into your skills.
post #10 of 18
I will get in tounch with my friend and contact you then. We can maybe meet up when we are both there as well. As to language, I had no problem getting around and the only spanish I know is "Si Senor" and "andale andale ariba ariba" which I picked up from Speedy Gonzales.
post #11 of 18
My last trip down there was 2001 . I recommend Chilan in Chile, Las Lenas & Bariloche in Argentina. Portilo IMO is quite small, overrated & very limited accomodation on the Hill.
I got some SA photos posted up here amoungst others if anyone is interested.

post #12 of 18
One other thing, I wouldnt worry about the language. There are so many Americans down there in the summmer your feel just like being at home
post #13 of 18
Thread Starter 
I have a friend who is trying to talk me into doing New Zealand instead. I heard it pales in comparison. True?
post #14 of 18
To get the best of NZ you have to take the chopper. The resort are quite small. Mount Hutt is one of the larger areas. North Island can be quite good.
I prefer SA,what ever both have stunning scenary & your have fun at the either.
post #15 of 18
NZ is also really good for park skiing vs. SA. If you are going to pay up+ for choppers, SA is still better.
post #16 of 18
They are both much better when there is snow. Hence the recommendation to wait until August to book.
post #17 of 18
I've travelled to the Antipodes for the last four years for "summer" skiing and have the following advice for travelling cheap:

(1) Unless you are booking a ticket using frequent flyer miles, wait until late June or early July to buy a ticket; by that time the general state of the ski season in the southern hemisphere will be apparent (i.e., good snow season or not); tickets purchased using frequent flyre miles are fully refundable (with a $50 fee in most cases) right up until 24 hours before departure, in which case they should be booked as soon as possible.

(2) New Zealand's snow is a lot more iffy (and wet) than South America's, and the mountains are considerably smaller. Still, there is some excellent skiing to be had once you get over the cost of airfare (which can be had for a s little as $850 round trip from LA).

(3) Overall, Portillo is the by far and away the best bet for good snow, terrain, setting and service. You can stay at the Inca Lodge to reduce your cost substantially. I personally would not go skiing in South America without visiting Portillo for one week (or more).

(4) Don't bother with Las Lenas unless you have lots of time to burn sitting around doing nothing. Weather conditions (massive snow dumps and regular gale-force winds) in combination with Argentine inefficiency and disorganization conspire to keep the famous El Marte lift out of service more often than it is in service. If you get really lucky and hit it right Las Lenas will have some of the best skiing you'll ever experience. If you have average luck, you will spend day after day skiing a limited number of relatively boring blue runs, and this after spending a lot of time, money and energy to get there (Las Lenas is a six hour drive from Mendoza, which is one-hour flight from Santiago).

(5) Other ski areas in Argentina are generally not worth the effort to get to either, as they are either unsafe (Los Penitentes), have small verticals, poor snow (Bariloche) or are very expensive to get to (Cerro Castor).

(6) The big ski areas in Chile near Santiago are a much better bet than anything in Argentina (Valle Nevado, etc.).

Hope this information helps you out. Good Luck!
post #18 of 18
Thread Starter 
i guess i will wait to buy tickets then. i am still 25, so i think i can get student rates through travel agencies or STA or something. anyone know anything about that? i also read that there is a monster glacier at zermatt with like 3000 vertical. is this open year round? if so, that sounds like a very viable destination as well. switzerland rules in the summer, anyone hear of canyoning? i did it a few years ago and it was amazing. also heard that the skydiving out there is unbeatable. so, if you know anything about zermatt, then let me hear it.
later on
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