Anyone been to South America skiing recently?
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lbotta - DCSki Supporter
March 29, 2004
Member since 10/18/1999
1,526 posts
Thinking about traveling to Chile or Argentina in the summer (their winter) and am interested in knowing if anyone is been skiing there recently and where.

Been to both places several times, but the best time was back in '97: I was able to travel to Santiago de Chile during the best of El Niño. We worked out rear ends off Monday through Thursday, then Friday at dawn we would take off to Farellones, overlooking the city. One lift ticket and we could ski La Parva, Farellones and Nevados, together perhaps one of the largest ski complexes in the world. The skiing was absolutely superb, that winter they had 30 meters of snow (100 feet) at top of Farellones...

This year I am also investigating Portillo, Termas del Chillan, and on the other side, Bariloche or Chapelco in Argentina. I heard that Chapelco has the best tree skiing in the world as the trails were laid on intact virgin forest...

Any ideas?
kelly001
March 29, 2004
Member since 02/25/2004
7 posts
I don't have much advice on those areas but was wondering what kind of a budget a trip to Chilie requires ? Seems like a great time but it would seem to me that most people from Chilie don't have the money to ski and that their mountain tourism is pretty much geared towards European and American folks. Making it very expensive...
KevR
March 29, 2004
Member since 01/27/2004
786 posts
I was led to believe it was expensive as well, the Post had an article on it last year which was pretty good unfortunately I recall no details. Still it'd be cool to say you've skiid mid-summer eh?
jimmy
March 29, 2004
Member since 03/5/2004
2,650 posts
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johnfmh - DCSki Columnist
March 29, 2004
Member since 07/18/2001
1,914 posts
There's an interesting strand on the subject here:

http://www.epicski.com/cgi-bin/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic;f=17;t=002436

My take on South American skiing is that it rocks, but it will also set you back a few dollars. [Wink]

As a consequence, many skiers choose save their ski dollars for the Northern hemisphere winter and take less expensive vacations in the summer.
JohnL
March 29, 2004
Member since 01/6/2000
3,509 posts
quote:
And one more reason to go to Chile... About the only place in the world nowadays where they like Americans....
They don't like Americans on most of the East Coast of the United States, so I'm not certain how important that requirement is. [Wink]

Strictly speaking, anyone from North, Central and South America is an American. We tend to forget that in the U.S.

How did you end up paying $3500 for eight days in Aspen? I think you are too used to travelling with a corporate credit card. I was just there this past winter for a fraction of that cost. I definitely agree Aspen is a lot more expensive that most U.S. resorts. People in Aspen were great; I'd say it has the best ski town vibe in this country. (And I love Mad River Glen, Alta, etc.)
kelly001
March 29, 2004
Member since 02/25/2004
7 posts
lbotta,

Thanks for the clarification on the state of the Chilian economy. I had no idea and will get myself informed on it. Still sounds to me like I won't be able to afford a trip to Chilie in the near future. For $2000-$2500 I could go and ski for 4 weeks in the French Alps. Don't get me wrong I'd love to see the place and its culture which I know little about but it's quite an expense. [Frown]
johnfmh - DCSki Columnist
March 29, 2004
Member since 07/18/2001
1,914 posts
quote:
$2000-$2500 I could go and ski for 4 weeks in the French Alps.
That's the main reason why my wife keeps vetoing the idea. [Wink] Also, you can only see the penguins during their Summer--our winter.
lbotta - DCSki Supporter
March 29, 2004
Member since 10/18/1999
1,526 posts
This is from memory so it may be a bit off...

Aspen rough budget from two years ago (more or less):
Room (3-star hotel): 175 X 7 = 1225 And no, I didn't stay at Little Nells....
Plane Fare (hi season 550
Meals: 100 a day: 700
Entertainment (booze,etc): 350
Ski Rentals and lift passes: 400
Car Rental (4X4 with ski rack): 400
Total: 3625

Zermatt rough budget from two years ago
Room (4-star hotel): 1250
Plane Fare: 650
Meals: Included
Lunch: 140
Bar tab: 150
Liquor at meals: included
Ski passes: included
Car Rental: no cars
Ski Rental: 300

Total: 2490
Not having to put up with obnoxious Texans: Priceless...


Future Budget if I decide to go to Chile:

Airfare: 1020
Hotel in Portillo (4-star hotel) 1200
Meals: Included
Ski Rental: 300
Ski passes: Included
Padding for booze and entertainment: 500
Total: 3020
JohnL
March 29, 2004
Member since 01/6/2000
3,509 posts
Wow, I've gotta party with you! (Only if you're buying. [Wink] )

Ya got ripped off on airfare. I got a flight in/out of Aspen, Sat to Sat, first week of March for $400.

Why did you rent a car? Aspen has one of the best (free) shuttle bus systems around. For $175 a night, you should be staying walking distance to Ajax and the nightlife. I split my stay with two different groups; $60 a night four blocks from the Gondola, $80-90 a night (per person with one another person) ski-in/ski-out. Second place had free breakfast and free Fat Tire on tap during HH.

Lift tix at $72 per day was prolly the biggest rip-off I've seen out West. Couldn't find any discounts greater than a few dollar a day. Bah! (But Ajax, Highlands and Snowmass blow away Park City Mountain, and Park City is pretty pricey...)

$150 per day on food, drink and carousing? At that rate I'd expect some sexual favors thrown in. I think my biggest dinner tab was $60, and that included wine and dessert drinks. Ate at a variety of different places, all were reasonably priced by DC standards. Found it tough to spend more than $15 for slope-side lunch. Also had a couple of real cheapie nights: a couple of $5 pizzas and numerous $2 Heinekens. Then passed out by 9 PM.

Where did you meet all the obnoxious Texans? Despite some strange outfits on some women & men, I thought just about everyone I met was very friendly. And Aspen had the highest concentration of totally hot women I've seen anywhere, including South Beach. [Cool]
KevR
March 29, 2004
Member since 01/27/2004
786 posts
Geeze, we aim for $1000 a head including everything but food... for about 6 days of skiing. This year at SLC we got (i have posted this 50 other times, apologies)

- airfare: $99 x 2, SW, non-stop
- hotel: $54 per night per person, 1 bed ea, including BREAKFAST and DINNER (nothing fancy but it worked or you could go to any number of local places)
- LIFT: $44 "super pass", alta,'bird, brighton, solitude. INCLUDES $5 roundtrip UTA bus pass
- LUNCH: ok, got me there, say $10 ea per day

Total: $200 + $54 x 7 + $44 x 6 + $60 = $902

And that still leaves $98 for a hat, a pin and t-shirt...

[Razz]
JohnL
March 29, 2004
Member since 01/6/2000
3,509 posts
Kev,

Once you add in taxes & TSA charges, isn't the $198 closer to $240? A bit of a peeve I have with Southwest Airlines. [Mad]

If you travel with a group, you can often save a lot of money on lodging, ground transportation, package lift deals, etc. Also, SLC, since it is a major city with a diversity of options (vacation/non-vacation, variety of income ranges), is an exception to ski deals. You have to work a loooot harder elsewhere to hit the $1000 per person goal. (Still doable at most, but not all, places.)
JohnL
March 29, 2004
Member since 01/6/2000
3,509 posts
quote:
... take less expensive vacations in the summer
And with less luggage. Any time I travel to the tinier latitudes where they only serve boat drinks; packing only a few swim trunks, shorts and polo shirts; I wonder why couldn't ski travel be so easy?
KevR
March 29, 2004
Member since 01/27/2004
786 posts
JohnL -- SW, yeah probably but they are all like that these days! I recall flying from Paris to London this summer -- the ticket was $50, and the taxes were $50! I had to laugh. Now the taxi from the airport hotel near Heathrow to the airport, that was RIDICULOUS although it was a very posh big Merc.

Anyway -- I think we were around $1000 - $1100 not counting food for Crested Butte (10 people, house, in the town), Jackson Hole (6 people, condo, block walk to main area)...

Unfortunately nothing much more specific than that, I am sure we spent $200+ on food over the course of the week since we usually ate every dinner out, lunch on the slopes, but breakfast in though...

Still NOT BAD AT ALL, I think...
lbotta - DCSki Supporter
March 30, 2004
Member since 10/18/1999
1,526 posts
Just checked on John's recommended site... I can fly round trip, spend nine days and it will cost just a bit over than 2K. Meals included....

Agree South America can be expensive but it has to be taken in context... Actually my Aspen vacation three years ago cost me about 800-1000 more than the much more enjoyable time in Zermatt, and I didn't have to worry about the surly attitude, horrible traffic and instead we had great snow, international flavor and awesome beer and wine... We must think that most European (and South American) vacations run on what they call the modified American plan, that gives you two, sometimes three meals a day, and in the case of European resorts, that includes your wine and beer... Once all the meals, alcohol (I only drink wine with dinner and the occasional beer apres ski), hotels, car rental and airfare were tallied, my 8-day Aspen trip cost me in excess of 3500... for one person...

In answer to kelly001, you might have the Southern Cone and Central America confused. Chile is a very progressive country, almost crime free (yes, Santiago has a petty theft problem but minutia compared with Dallas or Miami), it has a literacy rate about the same as the US, roughly the same life expectancy, and a lower percentage of their population below the poverty line than many European countries and certainly lower than many southern states in the US.... and with a much better social safety net than the US (the first country in the world to go private at least on part of their social security system), and a national health insurance program, To top it off, the country has had a historical budget surplus. During my time in Farellones when I was posted temporarily at the Embassy there in the 1990s, there were gobs of Chileans skiing. But yes, their tourism is primarily Europe-focused, same as their economy, although we may know that a free trade agreement between the US and Chile just went in force in January....

And one more reason to go to Chile... About the only place in the world nowadays where they like Americans....
johnfmh - DCSki Columnist
March 30, 2004
Member since 07/18/2001
1,914 posts
One point Lou makes that applies to Kevin's trip as well is that it seems to make sense to pre-pay for as much as possible on a ski trip.

Purchase a ski and stay packages complete with dinners and breakfasts and there will be few variables and few unknowns.

In Europe, those deals are everywhere but many American hotels are offering them as well--certainly worth checking out.

In answer to JohnL querry about warm vacations. I hate sitting on the beach. I need to do something. I've found an Austrian outfitter that offers cheap bike trips to Europe for a fraction of what Backroads and Vermont Bike Tours charge: 8 days and 7 nights self-guided bike tour of Umbria, Italy, including a bike rental, two meals a day, luggage transfer by van, and limited sag support for $859. I did a trip in France with this outfitter, Pedalo, and it's perfectly adequate. They won't fill your water bottles at ever stop and you'll need to be able to fix a flat yourself, but other than that, no problem!

The web site is in German but it has some prices:

http://www.pedalo.com/radreisen/umbrien/index.php

Another good Austrian bike outfitter is Rad Reissen (done 1 trip with them):

http://www.eurocycle.at/
lbotta - DCSki Supporter
March 30, 2004
Member since 10/18/1999
1,526 posts
I would rather be bled to death or even listen to a Jerry Fallwell sermon than to sit on a beach sedentarily looking at the waves or counting sandfleas... Agree with Johnfm on the biking...

Several years ago I went on several long-distance bike tours, including Nova Scotia, Maine, and two Vermont trips. Except Europe, or perhaps the Northwest, I haven't found a more biking-friendly territory. The tours were about week-long and we covered around 400 miles per tour. They were NOT budget tours, we stayed in historical, first-class B&Bs, most of them listed in the Inns of Distinction award listing. I have been dedicating most of my (insufficient) 30 days vacation time to skiing, so the summer vacation time has been taking a hit. However, even with first-class accomodations, the price tag was just over a grand. Not bad...

I will acknowledge to JohnL: I do NOT fly SW period. I was a refugee once in my life. I choose not to be treated like one again and be penned in like cattle. As a matter of fact, I once turned down a job because they had SW as their standard airline. I have enough miles to upgrade to business or first and on vacation, I am shameless as to taking advantage of the miles. Unfortunately, the trip to Aspen was a bit expensive airfare wise because of the lateness in making the reservations. Rental car? I flew into Denver. Aspen has about the lowest airport reliabiity rate in the US because of the instrument approach minimums which almost make the airport a day VFR destination. As a matter of fact, the day I arrived at Denver and drove to Aspen, my friends, who laughed at me for driving from Denver, had the misfortune of having Aspen below minimums and they had to land in Grand Junction, just about next to Utah, and then await a bus to drive them eight hours to Aspen in the middle of a snowstorm. They missed a day and a half of good skiing.... I did take advantage of the free shuttle though....

On the people: Compared to Breck, Winterpark and others, I found Aspen a bit pretentious... I will give the town, however, the Platinum price for restaurants, and I would say GOOD restaurants. When I'm on vacation, I am not on a savings plan. That applies to Aspen, Zermatt or St. Moritz or wherever. Life is too short to be on a budget plan on vacation. Having said that, I believe that planning before a vacation can maximize the dollars spent on enjoyment, and on this venue, the all-inclusive packages such as Europe and South America can indeed maximize the savings and allow the vacationer to spend more doing other things, like taking another vacation...
johnfmh - DCSki Columnist
March 30, 2004
Member since 07/18/2001
1,914 posts
Lou:

Nova Scotia and PEI are definitely high on my list of future bike trips. It's good to hear that you enjoyed them and recommend those trips. [Cool]

If you want both skiing and biking, check this St. Moritz to Innsbruck trip out:

http://www.pedalo.com/radreisen/inntalradweg1/index.php?land=13

St. Moritz may not offer summer skiing anymore (better check that), but I know you can ski the Stubai glacier above Innsbruck or take a short trip to Soelden to ski the Rettenbach glacier during the summer.

The price is 519 euros!

For people looking for a more supported trip (i.e. constant sag van support and a knowledgeable guide), Vermont Bike Tours offers many excellent trips for about half the price of Backroads or Butterfield and Robinson.

http://www.vbt.com/

I've talked ot people who have used VBT and they have only good things to say about the company. Hey, after all, it has the "Vermont seal of quality." [Wink]
Roger Z
March 30, 2004
Member since 01/16/2004
2,181 posts
Wait a second... if you're looking at the WAVES at the beach you're missing the SCENERY, if you catch my drift... [Wink]

That said, I'm not a fan of beach trips either. Still plugging for another hiker on the Alaska trip this summer if anyone is interested...
lbotta - DCSki Supporter
March 30, 2004
Member since 10/18/1999
1,526 posts
Nova Scotia is a dream, and the biking gives you an incredible sense of history, that even though you're in Canada, is intrinsically tied to our history in the North and also in the South... let's remember the other name for this area is Acadia... We started off in Yarmouth, then went more or less around the Evangeline Trail (Remember H W Longfellow's "Evangeline"?) Deals with the expulsion of the Acadians in 1755 by the British, including the forced separation of families out of spite, the beheading of hundreds of people, and the resulting migration of these people to what is now New Rochelle NY, and later on to hiding places in the Mississippi Delta to make up what we now call Cajuns and their excellent French-based cooking. The trip took us into Annapolis Royale, up and down serpentine hills that allowed majestic views of Bay of Fundy, with the cool late August breeze making the effort very pleasant... the aroma of the wild lavender lining the road beds was like having an aroma-therapy life session... and every village was a history lesson... Digby, Middleton, Harbourville, and down the Digby neck to enjoy the view of dozens of whales in their annual mating ritual. We went up the central range and that was even nicer.

The B&Bs in the area are absolutely delightful. The food is great, the customer service is above par, and the population is very friendly. Motorists will stop for you everywhere and if you give them the chance, they will engage you in conversation...

I would recommend it highly.... Laid back, with incredible history, and some of the friendliest people ever.
JohnL
March 30, 2004
Member since 01/6/2000
3,509 posts
This thread has morphed into the catch-all vacation thread.

As to beach vacations, I can easily spend a entire week lying in the sun, plucking lint from my belly button, enjoying boat drinks, watching the Roger Z. labelled SCENERY, trying to get my brain wave activity as close to a straight line as possible. The rest of my life and other vacations are pretty hectic, so it's a nice change of pace.

lbotta,
I agree with you about Southwest and splurging on vacations. With a lot of the added costs, it seems that Southwest is often not that much cheaper than other airlines. (Kev, I generally quote final airline costs here since that is what appears on my credit card bill or confirmation statement.) The SWA pre-board cattle call can be miserable.

You must have booked really late into Denver; that's a pretty bad rate into Aspen and a horrible one for Denver. Agree with the weather risks of Aspen Airport; my flight into Aspen was cancelled due to weather and I was forced to find ground transportation. I fortunately did not miss any skiing but I did miss some sleep. Vail-Eagle is often a nice compromise. It has much less weather risk than Aspen (though much more than DIA) and it is also cheaper. You have to add in $120 for round-trip shuttle transport for Vail-Eagle. If I was going from Denver to Aspen by myself, I'd take a shuttle instead of renting a car. A car rental makes a lot more sense for a small group.

I think your definition of fine dining is a lot higher than mine. Personally, I can't eat a four-course meal every night on a ski trip. I'm usually pretty beat up from skiing all day that *some* nights a light meal is all I want. Though I always seem to find room for a good microbrew. Or two.

Based on the reports on this website, Europe seems to be the most cost effective for the combination of lodging, fine dining & drinking, and lift tickets.

John Sherwood,
I may have to move up my Europe plans. Though the fact I would have to hire a guide to do any significant off-piste exploring could really inflate the costs for me. Most of my ski-trip friends don't go off-piste.
KevR
March 30, 2004
Member since 01/27/2004
786 posts
It's not the cost my friends, although that's part of it. It's NON-STOP flights at or below competitors rates... most bigger airlines fly into hubs, so to get cheap flights that's where you go with them. Southwest doesn't do as much of this so it seems like one can find a N/S flight on every path they service. The 2nd reason to like southwest is their customer service. Complain if you like but I have been ditched by United twice, screwed out of unused segments by "refund offices" and made to wait or had my gate changed out from under me without notice and for no particular reason at other airlines. I have also been charged $100 to change tix at the last minute and all forms of other shenaningans... Whereas at Southwest it costs nothing to change flight times, and I have actually received a REFUND once for changing to a cheaper flight -- which I didn't even know about and the customer service rep volunteered it. So for all that you have to put up with: long lines to get on the plane (which I agree are incredibly annoying), and economy class only seating...

well I only fly economy class ... so what's left for me to complain about then? Just the standing in line.

Oh and did I mention their impeccable safety record? Yep, another reason to like them.

Do I fly them all the time then? No, I fly them when its convenient for me to do so. But I prefer them in general to other domestic air I've had... although United across the atlantic still seems good.

In fact, I'm off to LA tonight on SW... we'll see how it goes. N/S $99 each leg... no complaints there.
johnfmh - DCSki Columnist
March 30, 2004
Member since 07/18/2001
1,914 posts
quote:
I may have to move up my Europe plans. Though the fact I would have to hire a guide to do any significant off-piste exploring could really inflate the costs for me. Most of my ski-trip friends don't go off-piste.
JohnL:

In Europe, you can usually join a guided group for off-piste adventures--that will hold costs down. Also, a lot of people going off-piste rent Randonnee equipment to extend their hiking range.

Back to the original topic, for level 9 skiers like JohnL, [Wink] what's the better South American resort--Las Lenas or Portillo?

Portillo has the famous Roca Jack lift that provides access to good off-piste. Las Lenas has the Marte zone served by the famous Marte lift--destroyed at least once by an avalanche and rebuilt. So, which one would JohnL prefer if he were heading south this summer?
JohnL
March 30, 2004
Member since 01/6/2000
3,509 posts
Well I see that John has promoted me to a Level 9 and has taken upon himself to spend my vacation money for me. [Wink]

As I dimly recall, some of the South American resorts are at a very high altitude. What is the length of their ski season and do they have any year-round glacier skiing? Instead of July or August, can you do early October instead?
lbotta - DCSki Supporter
March 30, 2004
Member since 10/18/1999
1,526 posts
The only Chilean resort familiar to me is the Nevados/Farellones/La PArva complex. It is beyond huge. Miles and square miles of ski trails and bowls, some in glacier, most above tree line. Farellones is in the middle, lower in altitude and the best place to stay, in the middle of coniferous forests. Nevados is as the word says, snow peaks, above tree line... From Farellones you can actually see Santiago and its 10 million people almost at your feet, but 8 thousand feet lower. That is, if there is a clear day in Santiago which in the winter has air quality just a bit above Houston.

I am leaning towards Portillo or Termas. The first because it is all self contained, the second because it is in a dream-like setting and you can go from the snow to 120 degree volcano-heated water in three seconds....
johnfmh - DCSki Columnist
March 30, 2004
Member since 07/18/2001
1,914 posts
Lou:

Termas also looks more enticing because it's at a lower altitude than the hotel at Portillo, which is at 9,350 feet--Diamox territory. [Wink]

What's the elevation of the base at Termas? I could not figure it out from the web site? Also, is vertical (or lack thereof compared to Portillo) an issue?
lbotta - DCSki Supporter
March 31, 2004
Member since 10/18/1999
1,526 posts
Termas de Chillan (Termas means Hot Springs)... The neat things about Termas are that 1) you go by a quaint tourist train from Santiago, 2) you're at the base of a volcano with still plenty of umph left, 3) it is Chile, with some of the friendliest people in the world, 4) the resort began as a summer heaven so there's a million things to do, and 4) the lift tickets are half the price of the US....

Elevations:
Top: 2,500m (8,200ft)
Bottom: 1,800m (5,900ft)
Vertical Drop: 700m (2,300ft)
Season: Late June to Early October
Lifts: 8: 1 Triple Chair, 3 Double Chairs, 1 T-Bar, 3 Surface Lifts
Runs: 15: 20% Beginner, 30% Intermediate, 30% Advanced, 20% Expert

Some other facts...
- Largest snowboard park in S. America
- They may say 20 percent expert, but that doesn't take into account several square miles of untracked bowl including one that supposedly resembles Tuckerman's
- Longest trail is almost 2 miles

ALthough a native Spanish speaker, I have spent several years in South America in military or US government service, and I always was aware that my non-Spanish speaking colleagues had little or no problem with the language. In Chile, Argentina, Uruguay and Colombia, French is widely spoken among the educated classes, so if you speak French, that is another avenue of communication.
johnfmh - DCSki Columnist
March 31, 2004
Member since 07/18/2001
1,914 posts
The lower altitude of Termas and the easier ground transportation are a HUGE selling point.

Portillo gets a lot of publicity in the ski magazines because many national ski teams go there in the summer, but that does not mean it is the best place for mere mortals like myself. You've really sparked my interest in Termas.

However, to convince my spouse to go to Chile one of these years, I would also have to promise her that we could see interesting bird life there. She claims that the penguins are not there during the southern hemisphere winter (our summer). Is that true?

Also, can one visit Patagonia during their winter?

Finally, is Santiago a pit or is it worth seeing?

Sorry to ask a lot of questions but I do not know many skiers who have traveled to these parts.
lbotta - DCSki Supporter
April 1, 2004
Member since 10/18/1999
1,526 posts
Traveling to Chile is very simple for Americans.
- You don't need a visa (but they DO charge a tourist fee in dollars)
- Only one hour time change from the East coast (Chile is actually EAST of the US even though it is on the western coast of South America) so jetlag is not a consideration
- Need an International Drivers License (AAA can get that for you)
- Culture-wise you're in Europe. The Southern cone has more to do culturally with Europe than with the US or for that matter, the other Latin American nations.


Things to consider:

Chile is almost as long as the US is wide... The variety of climate and orography is incredible. The driest place in the world is the Atacama desert, yet south of that you have rain forest, and next to that a semi-dry mediterranean climate that has spawned one of the world's best wine industries.

The other thing is that climate varies from north to south and while Patagonia may be frigid, you could still sit at the beach in Arica or Iquique

Things that I saw were very popular:

Horseback riding: A national pasttime, you can rent horses almost every national park, beach, etc... They are well taken care of. The southern provinces, where the Mapuches (indigenous people)

Dirt vehicles are popular in the north towards Atacama desert, where you have thousands of square miles to play with.

- Mountain biking, hiking, climbing, fishing, depending on where, it is available...

- shopping: Lapis asul is one of the things you can go broke saving money on... It's everywhere.

The other thing is the fact that they have a good to excellent road system, including the Carretera Austrial, still incomplete... And by the way, Termas is almost in Patagonia, so you can explore that too... Torres del Paine is a World Biosphere site, and frankly, the Grand Canyon is an OK sight next to it...

I have no clue as to the pinguins... Maybe they hybernate, but there are lots of things to do in Chile year round, and that includes birding.

As far as Santiago: It is a major metropolis. Santiago was a major city 100 years before Jamestown or Plymouth Rock were only a fantasy in the minds of some Puritans... If you like Spanish barroque, the center of the city is an awesome place. Unfortunately, that area has a relatively high rate of petty thievery. The city has spread out modernistically towards the mountains. Lots of museums, culture etc. But one or two days and you would be overwhelmed by the hectic pace of the city. One thing visiting Santiago is the ski buses leaving the city in the AM and returning in the PM, as the road to Farellones/La Parva/Nevados becomes one way up in the AM and one way back in the PM, so traffic is not a big deal. You can do both, explore the city and go skiing if different family members have differing tastes and yet get together in the evening. However, that Farellones area is like going to a little Switzerland and it is worth staying there.

I pulled the following web sites:

http://www.visitchile.org (you choose the language)
http://www.sernatur.cl/ (Spanish)
http://www.turistel.cl/index.htm
http://www28.lanchile.com/english/us/index-ie.htm
johnfmh - DCSki Columnist
April 1, 2004
Member since 07/18/2001
1,914 posts
Lou:

The Chile tourism web site was interesting. Although it did not answer my penguin question, I did learn this little tidbit about snow:

"Understanding snowfall here is simple. Much like the Sierra Nevada and Cascade ranges in the western US, the Andes form a barrier for moisture-laden westerly winds off the Pacific. Storms and clearing high-pressure systems are large and powerful, producing periods of heavy snow followed by perfectly blue skies. During el Niño years, warm water from the north backs up along the Chilean coast and leads to increased evaporation and truly epic snowfalls. Single storms have dumped as much as thirty feet of snow on the Central Andes.

As always in Chile, conditions from north to south vary dramatically. The ski areas in Central Chile are the highest and best equipped, and though their seasons are normally shorter than areas in the south, the snow is lighter and the skies more consistently sunny. To the south, Andes gradually lose height, and the snow which falls upon the southern volcanoes resembles that of the Pacific Northwest."

In short, that's why many prefer Portillo, Las Lenas (Argentina), and Valley Nevado to resorts further south like Bariloches (Argentina) and Termas.

Still, for lower altitude skiing, beautiful scenary, and less hectic ground transportation, the heavier, wetter snow and cloudier weather in the south might be worth the trade-off. In any event, we East Coast types are accustomed to more variable snow conditions. High altitude, however, is something most of us are less accustomed to.
The one reason I like Europe so much is that while one occasionally skis above 3000 meters there (9,000 feet), most hotels are below 2,000 meters (6,000 feet). As I am sure you know, with altitude, it's not so much where you ski but where you sleep. Sleeping at lower altitudes minimizes the affects for sea level dwellers like us.

In your calculus Lou, did you ever consider Las Lenas? I hear that you can access it either by flying to BA or Santiago. A big draw is the Marte served expert terrain, but I hear its also more extensive in terms of intermediate terrain than Portillo.
lbotta - DCSki Supporter
April 1, 2004
Member since 10/18/1999
1,526 posts
You're right, Las Leñas is close to both Buenos Aires and Santiago de Chile. I have to say my consideration of Argentina was cursory and I should go back to looking at it. I made several trips to BA, and actually got to go to San Carlos de Bariloche, another awesome resort, with incredible views of the lake where Peron and Evita used to have their palace, nowadays a tourist attraction. Argentina is another awesome country, VERY European, and one of the few places where the free-fall of the dollar in international markets will get you some bargains because the Argentine Peso has not recovered from its spiral several years ago.

The year in which I spent the winter in Chile (97?) was a banner year... When I first arrived at Farellones from Santiago, we were treated to a one-hundred foot base, so much so that the cats had to dig trenches along the lift lines. It was just awesome.

I just want to see something different. With almost all of the rest of the world looking at us with jaundice and contempt, the Southern Cone is a welcome break.
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