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Summer Ski Trip... Where to Go?

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
howdy. after getting ski fever much earlier than i normally do (it never really ended after my last trip in april...), i've decided that i would REALLY like to take a summer ski trip. i just graduated college and i'll be starting dental school in the fall, so i would also like to do something really fun and memorable before then, because i really won't have the time for the next four years. and finally, i have only had one recurring nightmare in my life, and i just had it again a few nights ago. it starts off with some freak storm that opens up the mountains in the middle of summer, and as i'm heading up to do some riding, something always comes up and side-tracks me until all the snow has melted away. i literally keep having this dream (always with something different distracting me from going riding) until i ski for the first time of the season.

sooo, here's what i'm looking for in my trip. basically, i want to ski the most challenging (as in terrain... not crappy coverage or snow-quality) and extensive (as in acreage) lift-served resorts possible. i'll most-likely be going with two buddies who snowboard. we are all strong riders in pretty good physical shape, but anything more than a short hike will not fly well with my friends. i am not necessarily looking for a destination-resort experience, and would definitely be down to do some light traveling to get between different riding locations.

apres ski is an important consideration, but it ranks FAR below the actual riding. also, what can i expect in terms of getting around, food, costs, and any other considerations/concerns i should know about? unfortunately, i have devoted the vast majority of my time to studies over the last few years, and am more or less oblivious about a lot of that stuff.

costs are not SUPER prohibitive, but i'd like to know what to expect. more than likely, europe is out of the question, though. i suspect NZ may be much the same, but i would definitely consider that. but right now, the top two trips that i am considering are (1) a tour of the PNW and BC for some glacier skiing and maybe a bump/freestyle camp, and (2) a trip to south america. obviously #1 would be easier and cheaper, but it would also be less gratifying than #2. i'd really appreciate any info that would help me decide between these two options. i realize that #1 would require me to plan the trip sooner than later (as glacier-skiing doesn't really get any better throughout the summer), and i'm thinking that #2 would possibly be better later in the summer after the snow-pack has built up in south america. i am available almost any time from now until september.

thanks for your help, and any other inputs are greatly appreciated.

-kevin
post #2 of 20
I'm looking into Whistler. I've been in the winter but I've heard it's even better in the summer!
post #3 of 20
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ski=free View Post
I'm looking into Whistler. I've been in the winter but I've heard it's even better in the summer!
how so? just curious. am i right to assume that sooner is better than later with summer glacier skiing in north america?
post #4 of 20
No I wouldn't say that. From what I'm told everything is manicured every day, moguls, jumps and groomed. Weather is always great. Apres are kick ass. They have a dj at the top of the glacier. Activities all day and night. But 2nd hand this is
post #5 of 20
I've skied the Blackcomb glacier. In the winter, you wouldn't even bother with it given all the amazing terrain. Short. Intermediate. Surface lifts. As John Q Public, they don't let you on it until the ski camps are done at noon. I'm entertained for an afternoon but there's no way I'd suggest anyone travel all the way to Whistler to ski the Blackcomb glacier unless you are doing a camp.

I've skied New Zealand once and Chile 4 times. I'm headed back to Chile this August. I like it but it's in no way equivalent to what you'd find at, say, Snowbird, Jackson Hole, or midwinter Whistler. The in-bounds terrain in Chile is very intermediate. You can get little shots of steep but you have to traverse to get to them. Some of the out of bounds will get your pulse going. The US dollar has crashed so Chile is now much more expensive. It's a nice relaxing summer vacation where you can ski.

The mountains in New Zealand are quite small. There are virtually zero slopeside accomidations. Treble Cone has the best terrain. The front face is advanced intermediate. The saddle up at the top has somewhat more pitch and some interesting chutes and natural half pipes. I also enjoyed Mt Hutt. The South Face and Montezuma Ridge kept me interested. The people are great. The beer and wine are excellent. I miss the ubiquitous meat pies. I want to go back but it's somewhat painful from the east coast. I've been doing Chile mostly because it's easy access.

I haven't been there but Las Lenas is reputed to have one lift with true advanced terrain.
post #6 of 20
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by GeoffD View Post
I've skied the Blackcomb glacier. In the winter, you wouldn't even bother with it given all the amazing terrain. Short. Intermediate. Surface lifts. As John Q Public, they don't let you on it until the ski camps are done at noon. I'm entertained for an afternoon but there's no way I'd suggest anyone travel all the way to Whistler to ski the Blackcomb glacier unless you are doing a camp.

I've skied New Zealand once and Chile 4 times. I'm headed back to Chile this August. I like it but it's in no way equivalent to what you'd find at, say, Snowbird, Jackson Hole, or midwinter Whistler. The in-bounds terrain in Chile is very intermediate. You can get little shots of steep but you have to traverse to get to them. Some of the out of bounds will get your pulse going. The US dollar has crashed so Chile is now much more expensive. It's a nice relaxing summer vacation where you can ski.

The mountains in New Zealand are quite small. There are virtually zero slopeside accomidations. Treble Cone has the best terrain. The front face is advanced intermediate. The saddle up at the top has somewhat more pitch and some interesting chutes and natural half pipes. I also enjoyed Mt Hutt. The South Face and Montezuma Ridge kept me interested. The people are great. The beer and wine are excellent. I miss the ubiquitous meat pies. I want to go back but it's somewhat painful from the east coast. I've been doing Chile mostly because it's easy access.

I haven't been there but Las Lenas is reputed to have one lift with true advanced terrain.
thanks for the info. so is later in summer (august) better for snowpack in south america? and i'm assuming that NZ is considerably more expensive?

i'm not looking for GREAT riding. but if it's pretty good, and if there is variety to be had (even if i have to travel to several, close-by resorts), then i'll be pretty happy.
post #7 of 20
Even though I live in Whistler, I'm heading down to Timberline at Mt. Hood for a weekend at the beginning of August. Reason being, they've got a way better snowpack than our mountain up here (which will be done at the end of July). I'm thinking they'll still be able to provide 2500 vertical feet of skiing there then too.
post #8 of 20
Thread Starter 
i've managed to satiate my fever for the time-being, as i snuck out of town for the last weekend at snowbird. but i would still appreciate some more ideas for a bigger trip later on in the summer.
post #9 of 20
New Zealand - Chill Pass/Craigieburn range. Cheap and challenging but you have to handle the ropetows not too good for your snowboarding friends but still possible. Skiing as it used to be and maybe still should be. Mountain side accommodation, fully catered or self-catering but very reasonable.
post #10 of 20
Portillo!!!!
There is no other!
post #11 of 20
Geoff D --

I've beening reading your postings on Termas de Chillan. Wondering if you could answer a question. A friend and I are going there in August. Did you ever take lessons there and if so, can you reccommend a top instructor -- PSIA Examiner-level equivalent or Level III --or as I was told to say, "un Examinador o Nivel Tres."

I called the Gran Hotel yesterday and before I could even pose the question, the guy on the phone informed me that Termas has no instructors who speak English! I was shocked. I've been to Portillo 3 times and Valle Nevado once and didn't have that problem. The guy did say that they are expecting a "new group of instructors in a few weeks" and maybe there will be English-speakers later and to check back.

It sure would be a challenge to take a lesson in Spanish -- an adventure in mime? But I speak a little and hey, I'd be willing to give it a shot if the instructor is really great. Thanks in advance.
post #12 of 20
[quote=lukc;919066]So is later in summer (august) better for snowpack in south america?

Lukc -- I've only skied Chile in mid-August, and some years it was good skiing but never snowed the whole week and others it snowed almost 10 feet in 2 days. But regardless of snow conditions, you might want to avoid JULY because that's Chilean (not sure about Argentina) school holiday time -- the resorts are teeming with families. I imagine it's like going to a U.S. resort over President's Week.
post #13 of 20
Yes, avoid July anywhere in South America for national holidays (not just Chile, I think Brazil produces much of the volume). Lodging prices are jacked up (like Christmas here) and I can tell from the inefficient lift systems that they would not handle crowds well.

Las Lenas is in a class by itself for terrain. But there are risks. I wrote a detailed resort guide after my 2005 trip http://www.firsttracksonline.com/ind...=article&sid=6 . Soon there will be another based upon my Chile trip in 2007. I did not make it to Chillan on that one, but Geoff and others will tell you that it's worthwhile.

I don't necessarily agree that NZ is more expensive. In SA you are often in on-mountain resort lodging, which is priced to international standards. In NZ you're in towns with more options, but you do have those unpaved 30-45 minute drives up the hill every day. Snow is much less reliable in NZ because all the South Island resorts are lower and leeward of the crest of the Southern Alps.

Both destinations August is your best bet. Spring comes earlier than here due to altitude (NZ) or latitude (SA). Mid September last year in Chile was like mid-April in many western North American resorts.
post #14 of 20
Tony, what a great report on Las Lenas. Really well written and thorough. I've never heard of "First Tracks" -- it looks like a great resource.

In a much more informal style, here are two reports I posted in 2005 on Valle Nevado and Portillo.

http://forums.epicski.com/showthread.php?t=29120

http://forums.epicski.com/archive/in...p?t-25559.html
(you have to scroll down for my post)
post #15 of 20
Las LeƱas has the best and most challenging lift served terrain any in south America, period.
post #16 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cryptica View Post
Geoff D --

I've beening reading your postings on Termas de Chillan. Wondering if you could answer a question. A friend and I are going there in August. Did you ever take lessons there and if so, can you reccommend a top instructor -- PSIA Examiner-level equivalent or Level III --or as I was told to say, "un Examinador o Nivel Tres."

I called the Gran Hotel yesterday and before I could even pose the question, the guy on the phone informed me that Termas has no instructors who speak English! I was shocked. I've been to Portillo 3 times and Valle Nevado once and didn't have that problem. The guy did say that they are expecting a "new group of instructors in a few weeks" and maybe there will be English-speakers later and to check back.

It sure would be a challenge to take a lesson in Spanish -- an adventure in mime? But I speak a little and hey, I'd be willing to give it a shot if the instructor is really great. Thanks in advance.
I've never really considered taking a lesson in South America. The main reason I go to Termas de Chillan is because it's not overrun with Americans. The Gran Hotel customer base is mostly affluent South Americans. You see a lot of extended families with grandparents, parents, and little monsters with their nannies. English works fine at the front desk. Anywhere else at the resort, it's useful to at least have a couple hundred word Spanish survival vocabulary. If you want to have your little slice of Americana hell, Southern Hemisphere version, where American tourons encountering a non-English speaker merely repeat themselves at a high volume level, stick with Valle Nevado and Portillo.
post #17 of 20
GeoffD -- I'm looking forward to not being "overrun with Americans," too, even if I am one. Chileans I've met on past trips have repeatedly recommended Termas and I'm faithfully practicing my rusty espanol daily in preparation. We didn't see other Americans at Valle Nevado -- which made it quite fun. I agree, Portillo's vibe can feel too American sometimes, but during my most recent trip last summer it was full of partying Brazilians and lighter in spirit. Even the Austrian ski team, who normally are very aloof, were friendlly. I shared a chairlift with "The Hermanator" one day. I'll never be so jaded as to not find that a kick.

Hey, can I ask you some basic info questions. I've not been able to find any info online about this:
1. At Termas do you tip your waiters and other staff at the end of the week like at Portillo or "'as you go?"
2. Are there ATM's anywhere? I'll get pesos at the airport, but am wondering if there's a back up place. (Hotel front desk rate exchange rate is too high.)
3. Have you ever gone to the artisan's market at Chillan? If so, worth doing? Schlocky?
4. Is the thermal spa attached to the Gran Hotel or do you have to go outside to get to it.

Any other advice for me? What do you know now about Termas that you wish someone had told you before YOU went there for the first time?
post #18 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cryptica View Post
GeoffD -- I'm looking forward to not being "overrun with Americans," too, even if I am one. Chileans I've met on past trips have repeatedly recommended Termas and I'm faithfully practicing my rusty espanol daily in preparation. We didn't see other Americans at Valle Nevado -- which made it quite fun. I agree, Portillo's vibe can feel too American sometimes, but during my most recent trip last summer it was full of partying Brazilians and lighter in spirit. Even the Austrian ski team, who normally are very aloof, were friendlly. I shared a chairlift with "The Hermanator" one day. I'll never be so jaded as to not find that a kick.

Hey, can I ask you some basic info questions. I've not been able to find any info online about this:
1. At Termas do you tip your waiters and other staff at the end of the week like at Portillo or "'as you go?"
2. Are there ATM's anywhere? I'll get pesos at the airport, but am wondering if there's a back up place. (Hotel front desk rate exchange rate is too high.)
3. Have you ever gone to the artisan's market at Chillan? If so, worth doing? Schlocky?
4. Is the thermal spa attached to the Gran Hotel or do you have to go outside to get to it.

Any other advice for me? What do you know now about Termas that you wish someone had told you before YOU went there for the first time?
I've always done a cash tip at the end but I suppose you could equally just charge it to your room. If you're staying in the Gran Hotel, there's only one dining room and they'll give you the same table & waiter unless you ask to be moved. Be aware that it's often cruise ship-style theme dinners with entertainment.

I never looked for an ATM. You really don't need cash at the resort unless you leave cash tips at the bar. Your lift ticket has a polaroid photo and your room number on it. If you charge everything to your room and pay in US dollars with your credit card when you check out, you avoid paying tax. I just use the ATM machine at the airport.

Other than the Jumbo supermarket (a clone of the huge one in Los Condes) and the train station, I've never felt compelled to explore Chillan.

The hot-spring fed outdoor pool is accessed directly from the hotel. There's an elevator and a bank of stairs at the uphill side / low room numbers of the hotel. If you go all the way down, you're at the ski room where you leave your skis and where you boot up. One floor up is the spa. You go through the spa to get to the pool. In that direction beyond the spa area, they've also built a casino building but it wasn't completed the last time I was there.

Advice about Termas de Chillan....
The good out of bounds terrain is a 2 minute walk ducking a rope as you exit the rickety old Don Otto double chair. It's not patrolled and it's not bombed. The first thing you hit is a little cornice. The usual backcountry/sidecountry rules of engagement apply. If the conditions are favorable, you'll be spending a good chunk of your time there.

There is also some out of bounds on the other side of the mountain beyond the 3 Marias easy way down. It's not particularly steep but there are entertaining rolly-polly ridges you cross. Don't screw up and miss the traverse back to civilization. You'll run out of snow and end up walking out to Las Trancas 3 or 4 miles below the resort.

If you have AT gear, bring it. There are a lot of mellow acres above the lifts with untracked powder and the snow holds much better at the top of the resort.

It's not that big a place. There aren't a whole lot of hints.
post #19 of 20
I am going to Argentina this summer-Bariloche to be exact.

my college spanish is rather rusty. I can read most signage but conjugating verbs and making whole sentences? that;s a challenge. how particular are the locals to you speaking their language?

on my last trip to France, it;s not that I found it hard to communicate with the locals. it just seemed like they wouldn;t acknowledge your presence unless you tried to speak a few words in broken french for their amusement.
post #20 of 20
GEOFF D --

Jeez, I'm nowhere in your league as a skier. Have never done back country. The most out of bounds I've ever been is the Lake run at Portillo -- and I don't think that's even considered "out of bounds," is it? It's really "off-piste" more than out of bounds. I confess I don't even know what "AT" means. . . had to go look it up.

TEKWEEZLE -- My Spanish is like yours. Long-forgotten. I can make sentences here and there, but can't understand a word anybody says back to me unless they speak verrry slowly. I find saying "Mas despacio, por favor" extremely helpful.

Unless you plan to socialize with other guests at the resorts, your interractions will be primarily with waiters and ski boot valets and the maids at the hotels, etc., and from my experience I've found them charmed by any attempts at speaking Spanish. And eager to offer vocabulary. By the end of the week you'll have some primitive but enjoyable conversations.
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