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Trip to Chile

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Yesterday I arrived in Chile for my summer skiing trip. This is my first time to the country so everything is new. I've been amazed how much everything feels like Los Angeles, if there was world class skiing an hour away. Santiago itself is a huge city of several million people. It's less than an hour from the edge of the city and 1 hr 20 minutes from Santiago to the ski areas. When you arrive at the airport there are tons of guides who want to help you for tips. Just keep yourself self-directed and dismiss them. The rental car company was friendly and quick -- and the guy at the renal counter was a Red Sox fan.

Weather in Santiago was in the 60s and 70s... in August. Ouch. The only trees you see anywhere around here are those that were planted. There are lots of palm trees in the city itself. On the drive up into the mountains, cacti prevail. From the ski areas, you can see right down into the city. The view from the hotel at night is beautiful.

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So let's talk about conditions. Yeah... not great. For example, at Valle Nevado they average 275 inches of snow. This season they're received 44 inches. Ouch. And the ski areas feel it. We are staying at the Hotel Posada Farellones, which has been great though quiet given the conditions. There's a couple guys from America, a family from Japan, and a couple from Chile. And that's it. Even for a small hotel, this is quiet. The slopes are equally empty. Today we went to La Parva where it was closing day, a full month ahead of schedule.

When we arrived at La Parva, the guy at customer service was hesitant to sell us a ticket. Thought it was only about $20 so what the heck. We did it. Basically there were 1.5 trails open, and the main trail and lift were closed for the Chilean national ski team until 11am. So we rode the poma lift for an hour while we waited for the main trail to open.

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Once they got it open the skiing wasn't "bad" by New England standards. Typical manmade refrozen conditions in the morning that softened up. The lift only went to mid-mountain, where the snow was very thin. Lots and lots of pokey bits coming through. Small sharp rocks everywhere. The main section of the trail was the only area with snowmaking as it is where the race team trains, and it was fine.

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Could they have made more snow? They had some fan guns around so maybe. But not many, and they have no water for it. The pond was empty. The ski area itself is huge, but you're in a desert in a bad season. And this is the driest in 60-100 years depending on who you ask.

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For a minute lets talk about the food. It's amazing. Really stellar. Like seafood and steak? You'll be in heaven. Grilled food everywhere too. Lunch today at the restaurant on the hill I did the point and pick something I don't understand and got a strip streak. Yesterday was a flank steak for an appetizer. Both salted to perfection. Dinner last night was ham and pineapple, followed by ceviche, then a main course of mushroom risotto with grilled artichoke, and a desert of nut cake with chocolate ice cream.

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Oh man that stinks! Sounds like you are making the most of it though.

I was there a few years ago at basically the same time of year (slightly earlier). It looked like this. NCM_0086-01.jpeg

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Wow.  Any chance of snow in near term forecast?  Are there some interesting non-skiing side trips from there?  As quiet as it is, I guess you could make this into a second honeymoon:-)

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Forecast is for an inch or two of snow on Friday. At that rate it won’t be enough to make a difference.

Went to El Colorado today to ski their one trail of 700 vertical feet. Snow was again refrozen cords in the morning softening in the afternoon. Made for really great carving snow by mid day. Took about a dozen runs before the wife declared us done. Lunch again was great. Lamb with some sweet corn side dish. There were maybe 30 people out today. Not many cars in the lot and front row parking available.

 

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So you rented a car and are staying at a hotel a few minutes drive from the resort it sounds like? How do you like that? I know Valle Nevado at least has some on mountain hotels, but I imagine with a car it isn't super worth it?

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4 hours ago, Jully said:

So you rented a car and are staying at a hotel a few minutes drive from the resort it sounds like? How do you like that? I know Valle Nevado at least has some on mountain hotels, but I imagine with a car it isn't super worth it?

At the time I booked this, my plan was to ski all three areas. That was accomplished in the most minimal definition. I am staying in Farellones, the village at the base of El Colorado. And the three skis areas are all interconnected so you could move between areas if there was a snow, though the interconnect ticket is pricey.

Valle Nevado is essentially several hotels isolated 20 minutes drive from everything else. You don’t get a real Chilean experience. It could be any other resort in the word. Plus they charge a premium to stay there. In retrospect I would have stayed in Valle if I knew how terrible the snow would be. The other towns are just dead because they are so much more dependent on locals.

So today was our first at Valle Nevado. In theory six trails open. In practice 4 trails, but three of those were no-go after lunch as the runout melted to mud and gravel. Our skis are trashed after 3 days. I mean multiple core shots. Ski patrol was out today with shovels just digging drainage channels and scooping gravel off the trails. Some areas were equal parts refrozen mud and ice.

The upper mountain main trails (all 4) were in good shape and it was clear they had recently made snow on two of them. But the melt out lower down on trails was not helped. The glaciers in the distance were visibly blue meaning no snow on top. We arrived over an hour after first chair and got front row parking. Lots of tourist vans though filled with people who rented not only skis but clothing too. People from across South America here just to see snow.

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We skied yesterday. Snow was a bit better. They clearly had made a little and harvested what they could. Today they are down to functionally one trail. We quit. We’re driving down to the city to go wine tasting / touring. May leave the ski hotel a night early and check out the beach.

https://www.bloomberg.com/amp/news/articles/2019-08-30/giant-vultures-circle-slopes-in-truly-depressing-ski-season


Sent from my iPhone using Northeast Mountain Sports

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Since you're bailing on skiing early and have a car, consider heading out to Valparaiso.  Really fun and interesting city, with much more character than Santiago.  Only ~1:30 from Santiago. 

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On 9/5/2019 at 9:44 AM, Cannonballer said:

Since you're bailing on skiing early and have a car, consider heading out to Valparaiso.  Really fun and interesting city, with much more character than Santiago.  Only ~1:30 from Santiago. 

So... we went to Vina del Mar and then Valparaiso today... and got robbed in the process.

Chile is supposedly safe "by South American standards". And Valparaiso is a gritty yet colorful port town. A stunningly beautiful area.

We were driving down the coast and had pulled into a scenic vista parking area to take photos. Another behind us pulls in and parks right next to us. A guy gets out as if to see the view and distracts us while another grabs my wife's purse out of the car. I'm standing on the sidewalk in front of the car. As I turn around, they run off, jump in the car, and speed off. This all happens in a matter of seconds. They didn't even have time to grab the loose change out of the center console.

Fortunately there was nothing important in the purse. My wife had all her cards and such in her jacket. All they got were tampons, cosmetics, and a pair of glass with an outdated prescription. We have a newer pair with us. And the purse itself came from Marshall's, though my wife really liked it. Obviously no real loss to speak of, but I was pissed about it so we drove back to the hotel without exploring downtown Valpo.

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Oh man, that really sucks!

Whoever told you that Chile is "safe by South American standards" was probably talking about violent crime and should have definitely mentioned the theft issue. When I've spent time working in Chile the most common question from locals/ friends/co-workers is "did you get robbed yet?". Very unlikely to get assualted, almost guaranteed to be stolen from.

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