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Heading to Santiago in July

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
Need advice on everything related to skiing Chile (Portillo, Valle Nevado, etc.) and possibly Las Lenas, Argentina. We want the flexibility of not having reservations everywhere (in case the snow isn't good, or is better in another area). We will be there 3 weeks, want to ski 10 days at least. Would like to stay in Santiago and ski as day skiers at each area, don't want to be tied to a week package. I'm told this may not be possible.

Would like to chat with skiers who have been in SA in the last couple of years, get your opinions and recommendations on hotels, transportation, and especially on whether it is possible to be flexible in SA as we would be in the US. I guess most people purchase ski packages, but we would like to do it on our own.

Looking for advice to make the most of our 3 weeks. Thanks in advance.
post #2 of 11
Beware! Fanny packs are not allowed on SA lifts!

Seriously, do some searching here and on TGR. The road to VN has over 50 switchbacks and depending on the time of day is only run in 1 direction. The road to Portillo has about 30 switchbacks and is on an international highway with major truck traffic. Passes on I70 are a cakewalk in comparison.

Do you really want to drive 4 to 6 hours per day for 3 weeks?

Expect road closures and make sure you have chains in the car, depending on conditions they will be required. Some rental car agreements will not allow you to cross the border into Argentina, and vice versa so you must declare your intention to do so when you rent.

Consider other areas like Penitentes, Termas and Arpa if you are fixed on Santiago as a base of operations. A better option for you may be Bariloche, where there are many places to stay inexpensively that are much closer to skiing and driving is not required. Then you can take a very scenic drive (or bus) up to Lenas and stay there for a while.
post #3 of 11
It's been far too long since I've been to Chile but I tend to agree, driving those switchbacks on a daily basis would absolutely do me in. When I lived there I was in high school and people would talk about how they puked and curve number whatever. :
post #4 of 11

Santiago

Quote:
Originally Posted by skibum4ever View Post
Need advice on everything related to skiing Chile (Portillo, Valle Nevado, etc.) and possibly Las Lenas, Argentina. We want the flexibility of not having reservations everywhere (in case the snow isn't good, or is better in another area). We will be there 3 weeks, want to ski 10 days at least. Would like to stay in Santiago and ski as day skiers at each area, don't want to be tied to a week package. I'm told this may not be possible.

Would like to chat with skiers who have been in SA in the last couple of years, get your opinions and recommendations on hotels, transportation, and especially on whether it is possible to be flexible in SA as we would be in the US. I guess most people purchase ski packages, but we would like to do it on our own.

Looking for advice to make the most of our 3 weeks. Thanks in advance.
Start off say in Portillo, don't drive every day or you'll take all the fun out of being there skiing in August. Santiago is a great/busy city. Portillo is 3 to 3 1/2 hrs away one-way. Stay at the Portillo Hotel for a few days, go back to Santiago or over the hill to another ski resort. $ a problem when you contact Portillo check on the availability of rooms in the Octogon building about 100 yards from the main hotel. I stayed there 6 yrs ago. Bonus was the Canadain downhill team was training there and the WAX room is in the basement, delivered a case of beer and really learned a lot from the main ski wax guy. You can make all your own reservations no problem, helps if you can speak spanish in Santiago but will get bye no problem if you don't. A smile and common sense works fine. I have only skied Portillo, if you want a detailed run down PM me and I'll do.
post #5 of 11
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by bklyn View Post
Beware! Fanny packs are not allowed on SA lifts!
bklyn, is that true about fanny packs? I wear mine all the time I'm skiing.

Thanks to all for the advice.
post #6 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by skibum4ever View Post
bklyn, is that true about fanny packs? I wear mine all the time I'm skiing.

Thanks to all for the advice.
No, I was kidding. Enjoy your trip.
post #7 of 11
I skied La Parva last year in mid-July, a one-day trip while visiting my son in Santiago. What others have said is true about the ride up and back from Santiago. We rented gear with SkiTotal and made arrangements there to take a shuttle to the resorts.

The good news was that it started snowing about half way up, and that was the bad news too. One passenger got motion sickness from the switchbacks, then the driver had to stop to chain up, and the road became more congested the higher we went. Had to admire the driver's determination, but it took until noon to arrive. We got in a couple of hours on the slopes, enough for bragging rights at the office. Shuttle left at 4:00PM and took us until 8:00 to reach Santiago.

As you probably already know, there are no places to stay along the way.

My son did a fair amount of skiing there and learned that if you call the resort lodging you may be able to get a few days stay, something less than a week. Especially during the week.

Does anyone in your party speak Spanish? If not, expect to get hit with the 'gringo tax.' Even if you speak Spanish well they will often charge more to foreign visitors. English is not that common in Chile, even at the tourist areas.

The good news is that it is a beautiful place to ski and locals try to be helpful. When I rented my skis, the guy at the shop asked what DIN setting I wanted. Never had that happen before and he didn't seem concerned about liability and skill level.

Have a great time.
post #8 of 11
two foods you must try-

Empanadas (this is a no-brainer)

Choclo. If you see Choclo on the menu, order it. Simply put, it's chicken and corn... but not prepared like any other time you have ever eaten chicken and corn.

learn this word- Juevon. pronounced wayy-own. It means dude, prick, friend, baastard, bro... . learn it, say it, you'll get treated better because it will appear as if you care about Chilean culture. Plus, they'll laugh, which always results in a pleasurable experience.

Find this book- Surviving in the Chilean Jungle (1 & 2) Your Spanish dictionary is NOT Casteano, the dialect of Chilean Spanish.

Don't pronounce the D in all -ado words. Like; con cuidado. (with caution/be careful) pronounce it, con cuidao

You can also drop the S at the end of words, like; tres becomes tre. Knowing this may save you the headache I went through for my first month.

Oh, and I'm jealous. Have fun.
post #9 of 11
Samurai, are you talking about Pastel de Choclo? Choclo just means corn but Pastel de Choclo is a chicken, beef and corn layered casserole of sorts. Usually made with raisins and hardboiled eggs. I'd also add desserts with lucuma to your list of foods to try and, of course, if you drink, pisco sours are the national drink of choice.

And yes, Chilean Spanish is truly Castellano and they drop the s like crazy. Drove my spanish teachers in New Mexico batty when I moved there after living in Chile for a year. Gracias is pronounced gracia for example. Also, police isn't policia but rather carabineros.

Buster, I'm surprised to hear that English isn't common. When I lived there, although that was 16 years ago : my mom and I would be accosted in stores by clerks and patrons wanting to practice their English with us.

In any case, I too am extremely jealous. Enjoy your time there.
post #10 of 11
Thread Starter 
Just got done with our first attempt at packing, which will be considered and modified over the next couple of days. And yes, bklyn, I did pack my fanny pack!

Thanks for all your comments. My Spanish is unfortunately of the high school variety but I've been listening to tapes and also reading some South American ski forums. I expect that after a few days I'll be doing OK. Some years ago we were in Spain and after 3 or 4 days of trying to remember all the vocabulary I started dreaming in Spanish (which was very frustrating because I still didn't remember all the words!) :

Anyhow, we leave on Monday. I bought a 2 lb. Asus Eee PC so I may be able to do ski reports even before we get home. :
post #11 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by skibum4ever View Post
bklyn, is that true about fanny packs? I wear mine all the time I'm skiing.

Thanks to all for the advice.
I think the FP remark was made due to the fact that those of us who have skied with you have noticed a few things in regards to your FP that may be hindering forward progress in your skiing.

I seem to recall your FP being HUDGE and rather unweildy. As such it seemed to be throwing you a tad off-balance, and throwing you into the back seat. Anything that is throwing you off-balance ain't a good thing, no matter how chic it may be.

While the FP may be comforting to you and allow you to lug around a wealth of extras on the hill, it may ultimately be unnecessary.

A good thing to do would be to think back to all the times you've over-stuffed your FP, lugged it around on the hill and never used anything that was inside of it. Believe me, I used to stuff my pack to bursting and ride with it all day. After a season of doing that and never using anything in the pack you kind of say to yourself "Hmm, is it really necessary to lug this pack around all the time?" I would be surprised if you actually used all of the stuff you cart around (I think you would be surprised at how often or not you actually use the stuff, as well). Sure, it's nice to have it and there's always the off-chance that you will find yourself needing something, but unless your trekking off-piste, way far away from the lifts, chances are you're not gonna use what you're carrying anyway. Why have the extra weight and bulk?

Honestly, I would suggest searching out a nice AT/day pack. It will ride higher up on your frame and provide a more even sense of balance than the FP. It also will be less prone to getting caught in the lower part of most chairs. And it will give you more room to cart along even more necessities.

Another tip (which is what I do and most of the folks i ride with regularly do) is pack a pack and leave it in a locker at the base/lock it to a tree/stash it near the Patrol shack. That way if you find that you need something extra, it's somewhat easily available and you're not lugging it around the hill. I actually find a better sense of balance sans pack (and my pack--Life-Link--is very Lo-Pro).

Honestly, 9-times-out-of-10, if you dress properly in the morning you're not gonna need that extra layer or whatever you've stuffed into the FP. If you have a pack, you can toss in an extra layer, some extra glove liners, a neck/face gaiter, some munchies, and extra water. That's usually all i have along, leaving room to take off a layer if it gets too hot.

So, there you go. Look into a pack (Life-Link, Black Diamond, Dakine, BCA...) the brands are endless and many make nice, compact packs that accomdate a change of clothes/extra layers, extra goggles, gaiters (both neck and feet), a lunch, a hydro-bag, and other stuff.

Have a solid trip, sounds like fun!
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