A Good Overview of South American Skiing
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johnfmh - DCSki Columnist
June 5, 2005
Member since 07/18/2001
1,914 posts
Quote:

Dirt-cheap lift passes, great snow - in July? It sounds too good to be true, but summer skiing in Chile is seriously cool, writes Jonathan Franklin






Article in Guardian
tromano
June 6, 2005
Member since 12/19/2002
998 posts
Nice find. Thanks.
johnfmh - DCSki Columnist
June 6, 2005
Member since 07/18/2001
1,914 posts
I've never made the trip but know it's a long flight, and that snow conditions can be iffy. If I were planning a trip, I'd go in mid-August when the base is high and the weather still has not turned Spring-like. I'd also wait until the very last minute before booking anything just to be sure the snow is excellent.

From what others have told me, I hear that Portillo and Las Lenas offer the best skiing for experts, especially off trail, but that Bariloches and Termas de Chillan have a charm of their own.

Argentina (Las Lenas and Bariloches) certainly has the best deals because of exchange rates, and it's also the off-season in South America so flights are cheap. Conceivably, one could combine a trip to Buenas Aires and the Iguazu Falls, which is near the Barzilian border, with skiing--think internal air to get from A to B to C. That might convince the reluctant partner that this would be a worthwhile boondogle.

PS When reading that article, please understand that what's cheap for Brits ain't necessarily cheap for us because of exchange rates.
dtqjr
June 6, 2005
Member since 12/5/2001
15 posts
Thanks for the article link. Heading down to Santiago and Valle Nevado for a couple of days in late July. For anyone interested, I'll be sure to post my impressions when I return.
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Roy
June 8, 2005
Member since 01/11/2000
609 posts
Quote:

PS When reading that article, please understand that what's cheap for Brits ain't necessarily cheap for us because of exchange rates.




I did the doubletake on the author's comments of "Dirt Cheap Lift Tickets". I'll give him the benefit of the doubt that the lift tickets maybe cheap. But not much else. I have seen the flights go for $400, connecting in Miami (If you see it, jump on that price) but typically run from $750-1200.

Portillo is not a day trip either. There is only one road. It goes up the mountain in the morning and down the mountain in the afternoon. If they get one of those West Coast dumps (which can happen because of the proximity to the pacific ocean), the road shuts down and there is not much concern in quickly clearing it. It clears when it gets cleared.

I did have a fellow instructor tell me him and 5 buddies booked trips to Chile. $1000 for 1 weeks stay, 3 heliski days, 3 days regular skiing (at Valle Nevada I think). He did not know more than that as one of his buddies booked the trip.

I have never been to Chile but I spend much of the summer tracking their snow season. I keep telling my wife that I'm going one summer but it doesn't seem to work out. Price being the issue.

Anyone interested in going next summer? I'll take the lead in booking a group trip. We need 20 people to get breaks on prices.
jimmy
June 8, 2005
Member since 03/5/2004
2,650 posts
Quote:

I have never been to Chile but I spend much of the summer tracking their snow season. I keep telling my wife that I'm going one summer but it doesn't seem to work out. Price being the issue.

Anyone interested in going next summer? I'll take the lead in booking a group trip. We need 20 people to get breaks on prices.




Roy, I spend a good bit of time checking out Chile in the summer too. I've got my wife convinced, i think, that July or August ski trip would be a most excellent 50th birthday present . As i turn 49 this coming january, next summer seems.....timely.
johnfmh - DCSki Columnist
June 8, 2005
Member since 07/18/2001
1,914 posts
If you guys go, please write something for DCSki. I don't think we've ever had a firsthand report on South America.

I got an e-mail today from Moguls about prices:

Quote:

Portillo Vacation Packages

Hotel Portillo - Standard Hotel Rooms
June 25, 2005 - July 16, 2005
7 nights, 8 days lift tickets
$1,750.00 per person DOUBLE VALLEY
$1,850.00 per person DOUBLE LAKE

Hotel Portillo - Family Apartment
June 25, 2005 - July 16, 2005
7 nights, 8 days lift tickets
$1,350.00 per person ONE BATHROOM
$1,550.00 per person TWO BATHROOM

Octagon Lodge
June 25, 2005 - July 16, 2005
7 nights, 8 days lift tickets
$1,000.00 per person

Inca Lodge--this is a dorm.
June 25, 2005 - July 16, 2005
7 nights, 8 days lift tickets
$500.00 per person






I've never been able to sell my wife on a trip to South America for skiing. She rightly claims that we spend enough time skiing in the winter and need to do other things in the summer like cycling, hiking, and birding. I have to say that I agree with but I still yearn to experience summer powder.

From everything I've read, August is the time to go. Also, does anyone no how El Nino and La Nina effect snowfalls in South America?

Are we entering an El Nino?
bawalker
June 9, 2005
Member since 12/1/2003
1,547 posts
If 10-20 DCskier's got together for a SA trip... how much would it cost per person?

I say this be a goal for next August 2006.
Roy
June 10, 2005
Member since 01/11/2000
609 posts
I just put in a request to 4 different travel companies for August 2006 for 20 people. We'll see what we get back.

Those that are interested, what type of accomodations are you looking for? I personally can stay in anything (hostel to deluxe hotel, it really doesn't matter).
jimmy
June 10, 2005
Member since 03/5/2004
2,650 posts
Quote:

I personally can stay in anything (hostel to deluxe hotel, it really doesn't matter).




Works for me!
johnfmh - DCSki Columnist
June 10, 2005
Member since 07/18/2001
1,914 posts
Roy:

Did you contact these guys:

http://www.powderquest.com/

It's run by a guy who grew up in the DC area. They've got a variety of tours, including backcountry and helo tours. What I like about their offerings is the variety--you ski at several places rather than staying in just one resort. I think if you bother to fly all the way to SA to ski, you owe it to yourself to see more than just one resort. For a resort tour, I particularly like the Portillo to Las Lenas one--it hits the top resorts in both countries.

I think for those interested in lift served back country descents, nothing in SA tops Las Lenas and its famous Marte Lift, which has been knocked down twice I believe by avalanches.

Quote:

Words simply cannot describe some of the terrain Las Lenas has to offer! The incredible part is the Marte Lift, servicing terrain your Mama would ground you for riding.
From the steep bowl directly under the Marte chairlift, to Eduardo's 48-degree Couloir, and literally hundreds of chutes 40-50 degree plus, some people have said they would give up every chairlift in South America, for Marte!


SCWVA
June 10, 2005
Member since 07/13/2004
1,049 posts
I'd be interested in a trip to SA. I believe I have talked my Wife into letting me go to New Zealand for a ski trip. So SA wouldn't be out of the question and it might be little less expensive.

Anybody skied in New Zealand?
Roy
June 11, 2005
Member since 01/11/2000
609 posts
John I did contact powderquest. I also contacted Moguls and Alpine Adventures. When I get some information, I will post it.

I like the idea of touring some of the mountains. There are the 3 that are close (Las Lenas, Valle Nevado, and Portillo). After getting some initial quotes, I'll work with these guys to get pricing for doing tours.
Roy
June 16, 2005
Member since 01/11/2000
609 posts
Update:

All of the people I sent requests to have responded that they are putting together quotes. However, all but one (Moguls) have stated that this is hard as 2006 prices have not been determined yet (which is typical response even in North American slopes).
Roy
June 16, 2005
Member since 01/11/2000
609 posts
To help in planning this, if you are interested (75% chance that you will go on the trip), please answer the following questions. Any other info that you deem applicable, let me know.
jimmy
June 16, 2005
Member since 03/5/2004
2,650 posts
Good work Roy, Another question, maybe you can't answer until you get some replies, is this a coed trip. Wife not sure whether interested. Don't know whether to promote or provoke .
bawalker
June 17, 2005
Member since 12/1/2003
1,547 posts
Good question jimmy, maybe I can meet up with a girl who likes to snowboard. Doing alone sometimes gets boring. lol
Roy
June 18, 2005
Member since 01/11/2000
609 posts
As long as your wife is cool I think we'll let her come along.

At this point, this is an anything goes trip. I'm more interested in having enough people (typically 20 to get group rates). My wife will probably not come along but I have a few friends from outside DC that I'll probably ask. If 100 people say they will go, then typically you can get 20 that actually do.
Swimmer
June 20, 2005
Member since 02/3/2005
143 posts
My wife, 21 month old son, and myself have booked a spanish immersion study, homestay, and daycare in San Carlos de Bariloche, Argentina for July 19-August 16. The homestay includes two rooms and two meals a day. Cost is $1600 USD not counting airfare. That's 1600 bucks for three people, room, food, education, and daycare for three weeks.

We used www.fareline.com for airfare after being tipped off that it's cheaper to look for rates at 2 a.m. on line. It seems that the airlines display higher rates when people are normally looking (during business day and evening) then display the bargains around 2a.m. Or, they will display the bargin rates during the day, but there won't be any seats available until the wee morning hours.

The school will be from 9 a.m. to 1 pm. Monday through Friday. Weekends will be free to explore. Skiing will commence every afternoon after school.

I'll post a trip report after we get back. Can you "fired up" about this trip? Can't wait.

The school/homestay program is ran by a site called www.lamontana.com We got a buddy that did it for six months and just raved about Bariloche and the program.

Steve
dtqjr
June 23, 2005
Member since 12/5/2001
15 posts
Yes, please post a report when you get back. Not just the skiing, the class as well. Thanks and have a great time!
lbotta - DCSki Supporter
June 23, 2005
Member since 10/18/1999
1,526 posts
You will have a wonderful time...

I was there twice, both times in the summer. But first, it is about the most incredible scenery. The city of Bariloche borders a glacial lake with an island in the middle that is the site of the Llao Lao Hotel, in the midst of the Nahuel Huapi National Park and the lake has the same name... Bariloche is upscale without a doubt, and yet it makes room for the European backpacker crowd that go there in droves. The town has a Swiss feeling but can get very crowded. South Americans like their cities, and unlike the US they love the central city. As a result, it has all, an upscale, bohemian and hustle and bustle feeling. Anyone who is anyone in the upper classes in Argentina has a condo in Bariloche, so expect busy nights. Dining is VERY European, first of all, you better start liking meats, because that's 90 percent of the Argentine diet... Second, if you go to a restaurant at 6 PM they will have just finished serving lunch, dinner starts at 9 PM and by 1 AM people are walking down to the disco to emerge at 5 or 6 AM. And of course, the wine... Some of the best you'll ever taste. And the best wines in Argentina, the best Malbecs and Torrontés, are consumed in country.

The dollar goes a long way in Argentina. Of course things in Bariloche are jacked up but still much cheaper than Vail or Park City.

I will likely be back in Argentina or Chile this year too, still waiting on some friends to make up their minds. But as I remember, the trip from Bariloche to Santiago, where a scant two hours away you are skiing at 12,000 feet in Nevados, La Parva or Farellones, or to Mendoza in Argentina, to ski Las Leñas, is less than 150 per person.

The best thing about the trip will be the language and the getting together with the Argentine people. You will likely be chastised for the US support to Britain during the Falkland Islands, or as they call it, the Malvinas... expect to see a HUGE billboard at the Eseiza airport in Buenos Aires as you leave the airport proclaming "The Malvinas Are Ours"... but generally, you won't find a more genuinely friendly and welcoming people. By and large, you will find the regular Argentine bloke with a much higher cultural literacy than in the US. Finding someone in a street corner cafe or a bistro who will engage you in a conversation about Cézanne's paintings or the latest non-fiction bestseller in the NY Times Review of Books is not uncommon... Most Argentines will know more about US geography than the average US citizen...

Best of luck... you're about to see a truly beautiful country with an unbelievable culture. I am also excited to visit if I get my %@@ in gear... especially since this will be my first time in South America on personal leisure instead of having to behave as a government official.... :-)
jimboc
June 28, 2005
Member since 03/30/2004
260 posts
Portillo,CH

Roads: closed due to snow
Snow Fall comments: Last SnowFall: Jun 27: 12"
Previous SnowFall: Jun 22: 6"; Snow History: 55" past 7 days; Season Total: 299""
Other Info: Jun 28: All lifts on hold due to heavy snow
lbotta - DCSki Supporter
June 28, 2005
Member since 10/18/1999
1,526 posts
That's wooooonderful... The last time I was in Chile was in El Niño year, and we'd work like crazy Mon-Thurs so we'd end up Fri AM on the way from Santiago to Farellones, about 8 thousand feet overlooking Santiago (which by the way, has awful air pollution this time of the year, but we were about 5 thousand feet above the smog). We'd ski Farellones, La Parva and Nevados for three days and then return on Sunday evening. That year they had 33 meters - yes, 100 feet - of snow on top of Nevados. Awesome, except that we were stuck in Farellones for three days. That same year, Portillo had so much snow that no one could get there for a couple of days, and up from it, the massive tunnel that connects Argentina and Chile was plugged by two avalanches on each side of the mountain pass, with both AR and CI armies having to mount rescue missions to open up the tunnels and free about 300 people stranded inside the mountain... The moral of the story is that if you're traveling that area by car, make sure you have plenty of gas, blankets, food... wine, cheese, etc...
johnfmh - DCSki Columnist
June 29, 2005
Member since 07/18/2001
1,914 posts
Lou:

I think I've asked this question of you before but I'll bring it up again. If you have never skied in SA, which resort(s) would you hit first?

Portillo
Las Lenas
Valley Navado
Bariloches
Termas de Chillan
Roy
June 30, 2005
Member since 01/11/2000
609 posts
Quote:

All of the people I sent requests to have responded that they are putting together quotes.




This is the last I heard from any of these people. I guess they are not too concerned with 2006 right now. Next week, I'll start making some phone calls to see what I can come up with.
lbotta - DCSki Supporter
June 30, 2005
Member since 10/18/1999
1,526 posts
Depends...

Quality of snow:
1. Las Leñas
2. Portillo
3. Nevados/La Parva/Farellones (note as far as I'm concerned this is one massive ski complex, not three separate areas)
4. Bariloche (Cerro Catedral)
5. Termas: Great snow (but mostly intermediate)

Transportation ease:
1. Nevados/La Parva/Farellones. Land in Santiago, take a 2.5-hour bus, you're there.
2. Portillo: Land in Santiago, bus to Portillo, you're there.
3. Bariloche: Land in BA, short connecting flight (and cheap too), you're there.
4. Las Leñas: Land in BA, short connection flight to Mendoza, 5 hour bus... OR a short hop to Malargue and one hour bus... OR... if you rent a car and were in Portillo, you can take the road to Mendoza and go into Argentina through the tunnel, if it hasn't been plugged over by an avalanche, and you're in Mendoza
5. Termas: Flight from Santiago and the bus is for those who made reservations in the Spa... else you're taxiing to the bus terminal.

Snow AND upscale life style for the Starbucks crowd
1. Hands down: San Carlos de Bariloche. Argentina's playground par excellance...
2. Portillo/Las Leñas
3. Nevados/La Parva/Farellones
4. Termas (unless all you want to do is some skiing and then enjoy active volcanic hot springs and sip wine, in which case it may be No. 2)
Swimmer
July 12, 2005
Member since 02/3/2005
143 posts
My trip to Bariloche is growing close, I leave in about a week. Is there any information you all would like me to gather while there?

Steve
firemt@yahoo.com
Roy
July 13, 2005
Member since 01/11/2000
609 posts
Swimmer I'm so jealous. I hope you have a great time and lots of snow.

Keep an eye out for heliski or snowcat operations. Any info on that stuff would be good (also finding out which ones are more reputable). Can't wait to read your report.

I personally have not done much in looking at this trip. Especially since only 4 people took the poll. Is there only 4 of us interested for next year?
JohnL
July 13, 2005
Member since 01/6/2000
3,510 posts
Tough to schedule a year in advance, but I'm definitely interested in South America next summer. Would also love to check out heli/cat skiing if the price was not too heinous.
Roy
July 14, 2005
Member since 01/11/2000
609 posts
Yeah John it's tough to commit to this far out. I have said for 3 years now that I'm going to do it next year (why don't I just listen to Warren Miller). And I know on some level that 99% of us on this board want to go (and the 1% is already committed to doing something next summer).

Mentally I estimate the costs at $2000 per person. Looking at past club trips (Pentagon ski club, etc.), that's what the prices looked like.
Roy
August 3, 2005
Member since 01/11/2000
609 posts
I've been slack on following up with this but I finally have some info. Moguls is the only company that got back to me with any information. Here are links to the proposals from them.
Portillo
Termas de Chillan

These trips seem expensive. I know it's not cheap to Chile but you can always beat a promoter's price by diligently searching the internet. The moguls rep told me that August 2006 is already sold out. I'm guessing she means they are sold out of their packages but not necessarily the resort. However, I believe August is their busiest month.

Since it's hard to commit so far out, I suggest everybody start saving their money, make nice with the wife/husband/significant other (just don't let them know why you're being so nice) and we can revisit in January. I think we'll have a small group but that works for me too.

PS Scott I called our group the DCSki group when I contacted moguls. Unlike that "other" website, I am not trying to plagerize anything.
POWPOW
August 3, 2005
Member since 05/10/2005
124 posts
that seems $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$. You can get the lodging and tickets and food package on the Portillo website for a small group room(inca lodge) for like $500 for the week PP, and airfare to santiago(from dulles) for $905.
You would have to add in some money for transport from santiago to Portillo but still its quite a difference.
Swimmer
August 3, 2005
Member since 02/3/2005
143 posts
Greetings and salivations from San Carlos de Bariloche, Argentina.

Today is day 8 of a weather system that has dumped over 3 meters of fresh on the summit of Cerro Catedral with winds that has kept the mountain closed for most of the time. My wife, child, and I have been attending spanish school and daycare in the mornings, exploring the different shops, eateries, and best napping positions for most of the time. We did get out for a bit of snowshoing, but a 2 year old just doesnt take a snowstorm in the face very well. After an hour and a half, we came in. I did get one day of great conditions a week ago Saturday. The views were beyond anything I have ever seen outside of pictures from Alaska (thats saying a bit, as Ive traveled a good bit). I tried skiing a couple of other times but the weather was here. One day no lifts ran, the other day it was limited lifts and horrible visibility and conditions..cant wait until it breaks.

Listed prices here are what you expect to pay in a ski resort back home. Lunch for three of us running around 35 or so...lift tickets 78....car rental for a weekend 130....but its all listed in pesos. Divide it by 2.8 for the stickler mathmatecian, or by 3 for the rest of us. The dollar does go a bit further here.

Ill be putting together a full trip report later, but were ready for a break in the weather system. We had an hour of sun yesterday and the town was like lizards on rocks...everyone was outside. I brought my tele skis and skins, and Im going skiing tomorrow no matter what. If I gotta earn my turns, so be it. The slope angle at the resort is pretty low key, so avy danger isnt that big. We are homestaying with a family whos two sons are instructors on the mountain, so I get pretty good beta on conditions up there.

Anyways...3 degrees C in town, horizontal rain. -3 on the mountain with heavy snow. Been that way for a week.

Steve
warren
August 4, 2005
Member since 07/31/2003
485 posts
Swimmer,
Could you send some of that cold air my way? It's supposed to be 95 Degrees and humid in the Washington DC area today

-Warren-
johnfmh - DCSki Columnist
August 4, 2005
Member since 07/18/2001
1,914 posts
My car thermometer read 101 on the Rock Creek Parkway this afternoon at 5:54. I'm glad I did not cycle.
Roy
August 5, 2005
Member since 01/11/2000
609 posts
South America is not cheap for traveling. With PowPow's estimates and the recent info from Swimmer:

Flight - $905
Hotel - $500
5 day Ski - $390
Rental Car- $130
Matercard Total - $1925

Moguls is not that far off but they handle a lot of the hassle for you of figuring out the place. I've kept an eye on flight before and found them for $495 but it was always strange occurrences and last minute so it's hard to count on those.

Another thing to consider: If it's as hot next year as this year, isn't the money worth it? I'd charge up the 2 grand to head to some snow right now.

Swimmer I can't wait for the pics and story. I hope you get some good skiing in.
Taylormatt
August 5, 2005
Member since 12/3/2004
339 posts
Here's a little tip from an insider in the travel biz.

The rates you are getting now are high because it's for 2006. As of now, most contracted rates for 2006 have not been negotiated. Airfare is full pop published right now rather than a negotiated bulk rate, which is generally released inside of 300 days prior to departure. So for August 2006, you won't start to see these rates until Octoberish 2005.

The prices you see online generally do not include all the various taxes. The prices you get from a tour operator such as those contacted will include all the taxes and significant fees, hence the price difference at first glance. Just a little FYI, request some price quotes for this trip again in December and January and chances are they will be a bit lower. In all my pricing of Chile, out of Pittsburgh, the average for Portillo for a week with air, lodging, all taxes and lifts is ~$1500-$1700 per person sticking to economy lodging.
Swimmer
August 5, 2005
Member since 02/3/2005
143 posts
Airfare, including connection to Bariloche 1000 USD after taxes.

Lodging running in town anywhere from 30 USD for private room in hosteria to 300 USD for full on swank (per night). I dont know what lodging costs at the resort, but will find out.

Transportation from town to resort via bus takes 40 minutes and costs less than 2 USD for round trip

meals...medialunas (crousants, but cant spell) cost less than 40 cents USD for breakfast, lunch runs around 3.50pp USD for huge serving (I am a pig, and waddle away stuffed full of meat), dinner will run you around 7-10 USD per person to be totally stuffed with a glass of wine.

Lift ticket after August 1 drops in price...half day ticket runs about 24 USD.

Personally, if you like things a bit more polished, I would suggest checking out San Martin, about 120 km north of Bariloche. The town is nicer/little more polish, mountain is just a little smaller than Bariloche, tons of trees though if you like your woods, view is beyond description, some cliffs for the huckers of you.

Ill get it all together some day. wont be home for another 11 days or so...


yesterday the sun finally peaked out for a day. I skinned up (telemark) for three hours and dropped into a field of untouched boot deep to knee deep powder and linked turns in complete awe and bliss. Wouldnt have traded it for anything.

Steve
warren
August 9, 2005
Member since 07/31/2003
485 posts
Steve,
Man, I'm totally jealous! We're still sitting here in tropical conditions and you're talking about dropping in to knee-deep pow pow

-Warren-
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