I just got back from a week in south/central Argentina and Chile. Well, I was thinking that this trip might be a mistake after all the bad reports I had gotten from the resorts around Santiago (Portillo, Valle Vevado, Las Lenas, etc). But I was almost entirely wrong. I¦ll try not to make this sound too much like an advertisement for Powerquest tours. But, they know the areas really well and I¡¦m happy for that. On my own, I never would have known were to drive or where the good terrain was.
We were a group of 4 boarders and 4 skiers and 1 telemarker: Martin, from Sweden (very, very good). BTW I saw 2 other TMer on the slopes and a group at Catheral in the lodge. All in all, we were a very balanced group, skill level wise.
We landed in Osorno, Chile Sept. 6 with lots of rain. Needless to say, that turned to snow about half way up to a little resort in Antillanca. Antillanca is centered in a rain forest full of waterfalls, and wildlife. But the mountain itself was a great surprise. Americans seldom go there. I was unofficially the second person of African decent to ever go there
Sept 7th, Conditions were great, top to bottom. We received 20 cm from the storm. The base was good. The best part of that the off piste here was that it was a 45 second traverse from the top of the highest T-bar. A consistent 40 degree pitch, top to bottom. Maybe 1200 ft Vert. Not too challenging. But it was a total joy. And almost no one else was there the whole day, even thought the area was completely visible from the lodge. At the end of the day, we could look up and admire all of our tracks. I was thinking that maybe we should stay here. It could get worst if we traveled...
The next day, we were planning to hit Robles and Cathedral (near Bariloche) but we got information that another small resort called Cerro Bayo got dumped on. It was about 2 hour drive across the Chile/Argentina boarder. The news was right. The bottom of the resort had almost no snow half way up. But above the highest lift were two bowls and few other choice runs. Nothing but powder. I'd say about a foot of pow, No ice. But there was some pepper hear and there. There was also a great deal of wind loading. This was evidence from the lack of snow on the other side of the mountain. But on our side there were mostly freshies, although there were maybe 10-12 other people accessing the goods. The hike to the lower bowl was only about 15 minutes. The longest hike was maybe 30. A traverse got us back to the lift. I was thinking that maybe we should stay. It could get worst if we traveled...
So, we traveled again-off to Bariloche. And then first we hit Cathedral. I'm now not a fan of Bariloche or Cathedral. Bariloche I might enjoy more if I were single and younger. Cathedral had tons of people and almost no snow to about half way up. I hated it up to that point. But, above the highest lift, there was some hiking to be done. So, we did it (about 25 minutes). Snow was good-not as deep as Cerro Bayo. The terrain was a mix of shoots. Maybe 40 degrees at the steepest area. So, we traversed over the Robles. Robles. is a completely different resort, but right next to Cathedral. There we spent the remaining portion of the day hiking up for about 45-50 minutes to the peak. It was a complete joy. We had an active volcano in view ( I forgot the name), along with a great view of the lakes region. The ride down was epic..., until the snow ran out. Then we spent about 2 hours traversing and the hiking down to the parking lot. Lots of mud, trees, bushes and rocks. I was thinking that we should travel...
Next we did some off-roadin ( in a van) for about 3 hours north and stopped at Chapelco. Conditions here were very similar to Cathedral: No snow and lots of people. But the back side was where it was at. Here was a huge bowl accessible right from the highest lift. But that day it was very warm and foggy. The snow did not slide very well. And visibility was not at its best. We did that twice and hiked out twice. The hike top to bottom was about 45 minutes. The town near by (San Martin) was great. very friendly people, very pretty town, great food and drinks.
Well, that was my last day of boarding. The next day we headed to Pucon, and it rained, and rained. The ski resort there at not ever opened this season. Any snow that they might have had, was gone now from the rains. So, we ate. Great food. And we drank: Pisco! We spent the next day white water rafting and resting it the natural hot springs. And my final day there, the group hiked the volcano Villarrica. I missed it because I met up with some friends back in Santiago ( poor planning). However, I think that most years you can hike up with your skies/boards and right all the way down through the ski resort. Bu not this year¡K
Any way, I guess the moral of the story is that you can always find the goods. You just have to know where to look.
I'll be back again next year for the 4th time. I love it down there.