Posts tagged ‘snow’

September 3, 2011

Skiing: Andes Style

Woke up at 4AM. Left by 5AM. Skied all day. Back by 10PM. I can’t even begin to describe how immense the Andes are. Skiing on just two of the mountains made me feel like a speck. Just amazing! And no Dad, I didn’t find any Andes mints…

The ski resort that we travelled to was called Portillo. Portillo is located 9,350 feet above sea level and that mountain that I could see from Valporaíso (Aconcagua) is just over the ridge. It had an interesting collection of Chileans, gringoes, Argentinians, Brazilians, and the Swiss Olympic ski team, but the slopes were not at all crowded.

It was so weird to not see a single tree on the mountain. I’m so used to passing trees covered in mardi gras beads, but here it was rocks, cliffs, and more rocks.

The Inca Lagoon rests between the two main mountains where all the runs were. In the morning everyone skis on the right side of the lagoon and then heads over to the left side in the afternoon.

This was my favorite run, Juncalillo, because it traversed the other side of the mountain. I could see families with their kids sledding WAY down below as well as the cars and semis zipping dangerously close to the rocks at one of the switchbacks.

It took quite a bit longer to get back home, but considering we survived the thirty switchbacks and semis driving down the middle of the road in the tunnels WHILE still passing other vehicles, I consider it a successful trip.

The ski review said this: “The Portillo Ski Area in Chile is the most famous and oldest center in South America, renown for its extraordinary beauty and its world-class skiing and snowboarding. In a world quickly going generic, Portillo proudly remains unique, private and grand. There are no towns, shopping areas, high-priced tickets or major ego to be found here, just casual elegance and a warm social atmosphere that encourages every visitor to feel like part of the family.”

 

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August 20, 2011

Change of Plans

On Thursday morning I left with a group of forty +65 year olds to visit Mendoza and Córdoba in Argentina. The whole reason I was going was so that I could see my mom dance. She has been taking a Chilean folklore dance class for a long time and every year they take a trip to represent Chile at an art festival. Getting to visit Argentina + Seeing her dance + Cheap trip = One happy customer.

However, things didn’t quite go as planned. When our bus arrived at the road that starts to really climb into the Andes, we reached a barracade. The police said that the Argentinian side descent road was closed due to snow. We waited a couple hours, then got some good news. The Argentinian side had opened! The police then informed us that the tunnel was closed. This time we sat down, ate some lunch, and chatted for a couple more hours. We got some more good news. The tunnel was open! But the Chilean side ascent road was closed. After waiting a few more hours, we were informed that the road wasn’t going to open at all. The sun was just beginning to set as we returned to the last little town we’d passed. The plan was to spend the night there and try to cross in the morning.

Things were looking good when we got up in the morning, but the bellman said that it had snowed in the mountains the previous night. Our guide confirmed that we wouldn’t be able to pass until at least Saturday!

My mom left early this morning to try to cross today. She called me later in the morning to say that the road was again closed and there was a long line of buses. She was hoping to pass by 2:00 this afternoon…

The weather here is just crazy. Here in Viña it’s not too bad because we’re close to the Pacific, but it was snowing in Santiago Thursday. There hadn’t been snow in Santiago for twenty years! What a scene!