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Chile, South America 2010: with a 7 year old 1st week of September (or last week of August)

post #1 of 26
Thread Starter 
(or solo if his schedule does not permit it). Some questions if someone can advise, much appreciated:

1. Since we prefer ski-in/ski-out : all of Termas de Chillan, Valle Nevado and Portillo have accommodation that is ski-in/ski out, yes?

2. Folks I have seen suggest staying at places near Valle Nevado called Farallones or something like that or near La Parva or Colorado which are connected slopes to Valle Nevado - question is are they simply connected, i.e. go through a gate as in Sugarloaf top at Alta to access Snowbird and vice-versa or is there some sort of vehicular transport/shuttle required to ski all three of the ski resorts, Colorado, Parva and Valle Nevado?

3. Why do folks like staying in Farallones (sp?) as opposed to Valle Nevado? Cost? But with a young kid, would that be a solid recommendation for say a seven night visit?

4. Which is the best place to ski, if one had to pick one -
(a) Termas de Chillan,
(b) Valle Nevado, or
(c) Portillo ?
Adding poll below. I guess criteria are
(a) quality and reliability of snow
(b) comfort of access to the slopes
(c) kid friendly when not skiing (he is an advanced big mountain experienced skier with a sane head on his shoulders, 7 years old)

5. Termas de Chillan is a lot lower than Valle Nevado or Portillo, but have read it is far more reliable for snow. How are snow conditions in Late August and early September - historically speaking?

6. How long does it take to drive to Portillo vs Valle Nevado or Farallones under normal winter condtions, i.e. when the road's are open ?

7. The transfers to Termas de Chillan by air, to the town of Chillan i think is the closest, is that flight from Santiago airport itself and how long is the duration of the flight? How are are on-mountain accommodations from the local airport there?

I am going through these other threads and have refined my questions while reading these threads which were also helpful. We canceled our S. America trip in the summer of 08 because the it looked like the planet was about to enter a financial death spiral (big mistake, should have gone skiing!) So if possible, want to make it this year. Dad has come a long way and son is of course ready for anything.

http://www.epicski.com/forum/thread/69818/south-america-best-way-to-plan-best-place-to-go/0
http://www.epicski.com/forum/thread/83152/south-america-2009-season

Thanks folks

Oops forgot to set up poll, can't do that now..
post #2 of 26
Can't really help, but I must say I am officially jealous, not only of Dax's skiing, but the amount of ski trips he goes on.  Rock on, man.  Rock on.
post #3 of 26
You may want to check that Termas de Chillan is still standing? 

The recent earthquake in Chile flattened the gateway coastal town of Concepcion .

THis was the situation in Chillan it self

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KwSl5L3rHyk


post #4 of 26
Thread Starter 
Stanton, could'nt help but smile grimly at the tragedy, yes, i recall, as per web, they are on and yes, Concepcion was the town, and that I had forgotten but perhaps more caution warranted on Termas de Chillan. Any observations on the rest?

Esum, having experienced a long time ago things can happen "in the blink of an eye" - and then it took two decades to realize "you are'nt here for a long time, so make sure it's a good time" , just trying to spend as much time with my boy, and he makes it a pleasure. After all, he introduced Dad to skiing (and taught me "it's good for my soul") and what other activity can one think of where one spends all day with one's kid doing something together (well, there is fishing - does'nt suit my personality until now anyway, or hunting, well, am happy to target shoot long-bow, compound bow and cross-bow or rifles with him, which we do, but am not really into killing animals, especially since i would not eat them ... ).

He is ready to travel all the time and never complains, delays or whatever, he finds things to do..was that way since he was an infant, makes things so easy for the parent.

Anyway, Stanton's reminder to be taken into account.
post #5 of 26
Thread Starter 
Stanton, wow, that is Feb 2010, thanks for the heads up.
post #6 of 26
Portillo is definitely ski in/ski out. The hotel is the base lodge.

You can drive, but you might want to consider other transport. That way you can enjoy the view and not suffer having to drive the endless switchbacks.

Skiing is great there. Full on extreme to not so challenging. Plus there are the opportunities to meet the national teams when they train.

Haven't been to the other places, but if I had the chance, I'd go to Portillo again in a heartbeat. There is really nothing like it that I know of. It is at the end of a mountain road in a glorious setting with some of the best terrain and most fabulous amenities available anywhere.
post #7 of 26
Thread Starter 
Any observations how a kid (all of 7 years and just 39lbs ! He is skinny, very fit and hyper-active) can handle those tow-ropes at Portillo, they sound daunting even to this Dad. The tow-rope transfer from Collins-Sunnyside at Alta can be hard work in parts too, the first time was brutal..and I know its hard on kids. And are they tow-ropes in Portillo or T-bars/Poma type lifts where at least one can rest? Also, how do kids handle the world-famous slingshot Poma at Portillo, kids who are in the 45" height range, that is? Any insights, please do share.
post #8 of 26
I would love to go down and report back.

You are right the surface lifts, although there are chair lifts as well. The one that goes up from in front of the lodge is used during avalanche control operations (or at least used to be). They send a guy up the lift, he drops a bomb, then the lift continues. Boom! I'd hate to be that guy if there is a power outage right after the bomb drop!
post #9 of 26
Thread Starter 
That's pretty funny. Wonder how kids handle the slingshot ...
or for that matter any long-haul Tow Ropes..he did T-bars in Austria and the one tow rope right on top of one of the peaks in Lech, and the famous Tow Rope of Alta.

The thing is as yet, we have been very lucky, and Chile, is a long way to trek for a mistake..especially the Tow Ropes..anyone with kids, young like 5 to 9 years, been to Valle Nevado, Termas de Chillan, or Portillo - please advise
post #10 of 26
Termas de Chillan (now called Nevados de Chillan), Portillo and Valle Nevado are ski-in ski-out resorts.
In Termas de Chillan you also have the option to stay in Las Trancas, a small village 10 minutes down the road, cheaper but not ski-in ski-out.
Valle Nevado, is connected to El Colorado and La Parva (connect by lifts, no shuttle required) it is the biggest ski area in the Southern hemisphere.
Portillo is smaller but has some steep terrain, amazing landscape and great off piste (went there in my very first ski trip, so didn't hit the backcountry)
Both Valle Nevado and Portillo share the same Central Andes weather pattern: Usually nice dumps of dry snow, then several days of sunshine.

Termas de Chillan is located in a Volcano area. it's not as high as Valle or Portillo, but since it's more than 400km south, it gets a different weather pattern, they usually have the most reliable snow in SA, and 3600ft vertical of skiing.
Some lifts are slow and after a big storm they may need time to open all the terrain on top...
I liked the snow and terrain in Termas, but if going off pist make sure you are with a local, or you may end up in no man's land and have to hike a lot...

You can ski Portillo and Valle in the same week. Portillo is about 2h - 2h30 hours from Santiago and Valle Nevado about 1h - 1h30 hours, if I'm not wrong. But the final section of both roads is really steep, narrow and uphill, totally weather dependent.

Mid-late August is my favorite time to ski SA, still winter conditions, usually good coverage, and good chance for fresh powder.
Right now Argentina is cheaper than Chile, so you may consider places like Las Lenas (close to Mendoza) Cerro Catedral (close to Bariloche) Chapelco (close to San Martin de Los Andes) and even Cerro Castor, in Ushuaia (the world's southernmost ski resort)

Here are some resorts links:
http://www.skipucon.cl/index.asp
http://www.caviahue.com/htm/invierno/caviahue_camara_vivo.html
http://www.laslenas.com/english/index.php
http://www.catedralaltapatagonia.com/invierno/index.html
http://www.cerrocastor.com/2009/2009_ENG/

Cheers!
post #11 of 26
Thread Starter 
Thanks Thiago, chewing on it..Career and expense are paramount right now but could be great to keep the season continuously ongoing and have to figure out time from my boy's schedule so he can come too..
post #12 of 26
Thanks for the great information!

Thinking about going to Argentina due to the peso being 1/3 of the USD.....will be going to BsAs, and then Mendoza.
 
One question: is Las Lenas doable while staying in Mendoza?  It seems like accommodation options are rather limited in Las Lenas, so I would rather stay in Mendoza (much better options) if it's feasible to go back and forth on a daily basis......Thanks!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Thiago View Post

...

Mid-late August is my favorite time to ski SA, still winter conditions, usually good coverage, and good chance for fresh powder.
Right now Argentina is cheaper than Chile, so you may consider places like Las Lenas (close to Mendoza) Cerro Catedral (close to Bariloche) Chapelco (close to San Martin de Los Andes) and even Cerro Castor, in Ushuaia (the world's southernmost ski resort)

...
 
post #13 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by jkc22 View Post



Thinking about going to Argentina due to the peso being 1/3 of the USD.....will be going to BsAs, and then Mendoza.
 
One question: is Las Lenas doable while staying in Mendoza?  It seems like accommodation options are rather limited in Las Lenas, so I would rather stay in Mendoza (much better options) if it's feasible to go back and forth on a daily basis......Thanks!
 


 
 
No, it's way too far. Even Marlaque is too far IMHO.   There are pretty cheap accommodations in LL, if that's what your looking for? Are you taking the bus from BA to Mendoza? That's a looonnnggg ride!
post #14 of 26
Nalle nevado and LaParva have far more lifts- 3x and quads than Portillo but the use of long poma's are a reality. I think the single Poma's at VN are less difficult than the 3 and 4 person poma's at Portillo but I am just going by what I have heard. The 1st week in September is the low season and rates are certainly cheaper.  Don't go by the web site on the resorts for prices, much cheaper rates can be had by going through tour operators. Check some of the sites for Kids go free weeks. I know they all run those programs.   BTW- once at the resorts, nothing's cheap!

Quote:
Originally Posted by dustyfog View Post

That's pretty funny. Wonder how kids handle the slingshot ...
or for that matter any long-haul Tow Ropes..he did T-bars in Austria and the one tow rope right on top of one of the peaks in Lech, and the famous Tow Rope of Alta.

The thing is as yet, we have been very lucky, and Chile, is a long way to trek for a mistake..especially the Tow Ropes..anyone with kids, young like 5 to 9 years, been to Valle Nevado, Termas de Chillan, or Portillo - please advise

 
post #15 of 26
Dustyfog --

 

I'm not a parent, but I've been to Portillo 3 times, Valle Nevado twice and once to Termas de Chillan, so perhaps could give some insight. I love all 3.

Are you planning to put your kid in ski school? I can't vouch for the teaching, but the Portillo kids program appeared to be terrific -- and at the end of the week, there's a big award ceremony in the main living room that both adults and kids attend and the kids get medals and it's very warm and charming. There tend to be more American kids to hang out with in Portillo than the other resorts.

The Roca Jack lifts (the 5 person poma--or is it 6?) are tricky, but there's plenty of good skiing via chairlift, too.

Termas -- sorry, Nevados -- is a wonderful place, too. But when I was there 2 years ago, the ski school was a mess and there was ongoing legal battles over ownership of the hotels and the lifts. (Thus the confusion about whether the resort is called Termas or Nevados de Chillan. Long story.) I'm not sure this has all been solved. Nevados de Chillan is a real family resort and has a friendly, easy-going vibe -- but, we barely saw any Americans. Lots of Argentinians, Chileans and Brazilians. Does your kid speak Spanish? One of the great thrills there is to ski the Tres Marias -- the 3 Marias -- an 8 mile exquisite intermediate to advanced intermediate run-- the longest in South America. Stunning views. You never get tired of it.

Valle Nevado has lots of variety -- but for stuff to do APRES ski -- for a kid -- Portillo seems more intimate. More expensive, though.

You don't want to drive to Portillo. Take a shuttle from the airport, which you can arrange thru the resort. . The roads when there's ice or snow -- are scarily dangerous. And sometimes the roads are closed because of blizzards and avalanche danger. Same at Valle Nevado.

But enough from me -- I have a suggestion: Do you know Robin Barnes, who teaches for Epic Ski and NASTC?  She was an instructor at Portillo for years -- and is still going each August with NASTC. She could probably tell you everything you want to know about how appropriate it would be for your kid.   (As well as other resorts.)







 

post #16 of 26
Thanks for the confirmation. I also called up the hotel they said it's way too far to do it daily.......

I'd be happy to pay a premium for the accommodation if it is worth what the price commands.....problem is all the options (at least online) in Las Lenas, even the supposedly "luxurious" Virgo Hotel, are dorm-like while charging a huge premium (upwards of $400 a night!)  I would have rather stayed at (the Park Hyatt) in Mendoza if it's feasible to communte, but sadly it's really too far.

What are the "cheap options" in LL? If I am really just going for the heck of skiing, and if it's a good deal, I don't mind cheap(er) options......

Definitely will not be taking a bus from BsAs -- I am not a masochist..... 

Quote:
Originally Posted by SHREDHEAD View Post



 
No, it's way too far. Even Marlaque is too far IMHO.   There are pretty cheap accommodations in LL, if that's what your looking for? Are you taking the bus from BA to Mendoza? That's a looonnnggg ride!

 
post #17 of 26
Option for saving money at Las Leñas - The Vail Resorts "Epic Pass" now includes unlimited skiing June through October at Las Leñas. That's a very appealing offer.

Quote http://news.vailresorts.com/article_display.cfm?article_id=1122:
Now, all Epic Pass holders can receive free and unrestricted skiing from June through October of 2010 and 2011 at Las Leñas during their stay at a qualifying Las Leñas hotel. Prices on the Epic Pass are guaranteed through May 31, 2010 and purchasers can put $49 down now with the remainder due in mid-September. For more information or to purchase your Epic Pass visit www.EpicIsEndless.com .
The catch is you do have to stay at one of the hotels there. Then again, it's not like there's lots of alternatives.

Quote http://news.vailresorts.com/article_display.cfm?article_id=1122:
In order to receive free and unrestricted skiing at Las Leñas, skiers and riders must be a 2009-2010 Epic Pass holder or must buy or renew the Epic Pass for the 2010-2011 ski season at www.epicpass.com and stay at the Piscis Hotel, Escorpio Hotel, Aries Hotel, Villa Capricornio, or Acuario Hotel locations in Las Leñas.
post #18 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cryptica View Post

But enough from me -- I have a suggestion: Do you know Robin Barnes, who teaches for Epic Ski and NASTC?  She was an instructor at Portillo for years -- and is still going each August with NASTC. She could probably tell you everything you want to know about how appropriate it would be for your kid.   (As well as other resorts.)







 

Robin was hired as director of the ski school at Portillo this year and will be there all season.
post #19 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by jkc22 View Post



What are the "cheap options" in LL? If I am really just going for the heck of skiing, and if it's a good deal, I don't mind cheap(er) options......
 


 

There are a bunch of apartment complexes that have privately owned units.  The owners rent them weekly and some even rent bunks by the night.  Check TGR, they have a much more active thread.  I would wait until they have a decent base before I booked anything in SA.
post #20 of 26
Oh, that's great news --  I'm a better skier because of her. ..
post #21 of 26
Thread Starter 
Thanks, Cryptica, I do not know Robin Barnes but will send her a message.

My boy is the better skier, handles all the gnarlier, big-mountain terrain (within reason, i.e. no cliff hucks, though I know that he has traversed over cornices and dropped into chutes and around cliffs - I was'nt there), so he can pretty much do a lot more than I can so for him to miss out because of the lifts would not be right. And yes, I'd put him in ski school for sure, we ski together and I put him in school, part of making new friends and all that.
post #22 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cryptica View Post

Oh, that's great news --  I'm a better skier because of her. ..

Me too.
post #23 of 26

You may find this feature I wrote after a 2007 trip to Portillo, Arpa and Valle Nevado helpful:

http://www.firsttracksonline.com/index.php?module=News&func=display&sid=4686

 

I had an advanced 7-year-old who traveled well back in 1992.  He was with me in Chile but 22 then.  Your son may be advanced and a good traveler but he's still 7.  It's still South America so with a kid I would stay in a resort and not down the hill in Las Trancas, Farellones or Los Andes.  I'd also recommend Portillo over the Valle Nevado group for the small scale hotel/resort, excellent family setup, more advanced oriented skiing and greater snowfall.  Even though you can find better price deals at Valle Nevado.  Portillo is also American operated, probably fewer of the management issues common in South American ski resorts.

 

I did not have time to get to Chillan, but met a friend in Portillo who had just been there while we had been in Peru first.  He was very enthusiastic about the terrain there, and he got a day and a half of powder, which was of course preceded by 2 shutdown days.  If you go to Chillan, the best way is by train from Santiago.  The resort will pick you up at the train station if you're staying at least 3 days.

post #24 of 26

If you are describing his ski abilities at all accurately he will love Portillo and have no problem with the lifts.  My kids rode them at that age and thought they were fun and a big part of the Portillo experience.  If you don't try them and he is as strong a skier as you describe you'd be missing the best skiing.

 

Best to have him ride with someone experienced first -- which he will if in a lesson or get an instructor or someone experienced on with you the first time -- avoid snowboarders the first time especially if they haven't done it before -- not a knock on them it is just harder for them due to the stance they don't naturally track a straight line with a poma between the legs.  It is a poma between the legs with a bar that attaches 4 or 5 pomas (depends on which lift) to the cable -- it is stopped when you get on or off  but moves fast when moving..  So you aren't holding on you are standing up and letting the poma pull you but it steep and you are close together.  Biggest mistake people make is hanging on and letting your body get low -- stand up tall, hold the poma up a bit with one hand, rest the other with your poles on the bar and let it pull you -- trying to keep your skis tracking straight so you don't knock each other.  You need to coordinate getting off one at a time and sliding back and turning your skis across the hill as you drop back.

 

One tough thing for young American kids is dinner isn't served until 8:30 for the early seating.  But you will adapt to it -- there is "tea" or you can get food earlier in the bar.  You can nap in the afternoons if needed and/or go to bed right after dinner figure out what works for you.

post #25 of 26
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the detailed info on the places and of course on the lifts.

Tony C - that is one great piece.

 

And yes, he is a very good big mountains skier, I am confident he can do a lot there.

 

Now its a question of logistics and dates. Things look tough, camp and mom is taking him somewhere in August etc. But let's see.

post #26 of 26

Thermas de Chillan has changed its name last year to Nevado de Chillan with the change of ownership. Was there last year and stayed in Nevado de Chillan hotel, ski in/out. It was a wonderful experience with lift served CAT skiing, totally out of the bound. In addition, you can experience the longest run in S. America. I will go back.

 

However, Portillo has its own beauty, we were there as well. To ride the sling shot lift is some thing everyone should experience with. If you fail on the first run, try again, you will get accustome to it sooner or later.

 

I would suggest one week in each, using Santiago Airport as a transit point. Both resorts will pick you up at the airport. Chilan is much further than Portillo, nevertheless.

 

I would not bother to go to the three resorts near Santiago (Valle Nevado, Al Colorado and La Prava)...


Edited by jackwan1 - 5/24/10 at 3:20pm
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