Saturday, August 01, 2009

Another Sighting of the Rare Alpine . . . FOX? Hey WTF!?!?!?!

The perfect conditions at Portillo, Chile today led many to believe a sighting of the Rare Alpine Skunk was imminent. Fresh powder? CHECK. Bluebird Day? CHECK.

But then this little fella stole The Skunk's thunder. He showed up at Tio Bob's mid-mountain restaurant, no doubt drawn by the intoxicating smell of lomos roasting on an open spit. A lomo, ubiquitous at lunch in South America (where the beef is to die for) is a hard baguette roll, cut in half lengthwise, with a huge honkin' 3-lb slab of divinely tender seared cow flesh thrown onto it. Usually served alone on a large plate, simply because it's so much food, nobody can possibly eat a lomo and still have room for fries or cole slaw or any other accoutrement commonly served with a sandwich.

"WHAT NO COLE SLAW?????" sniffs the Alpine Fox

What exactly is the altitude at Tio Bob's? And it's only mid-mountain.

But could it be...the Rare Alpine Skunk shows up anyway?

Note the complete absence of any clouds.

Just to show he didn't mind having his thunder stolen by our foxy friend, the Rare Alpine Skunk showed up anyway.

Meet my new friend Bode (yes, that's really his name). Bode is from Holland. He snapped the photos of the Rare Alpine Skunk. Here he admires our powder-8s. Bode can flat-out SKI.

Flying the KSC / Hahnenkamm colors in front of the Hotel Portillo.

This guy must share a press agent with The Fox. He wants in on the act, too.

Portillo is a gorgeous place, but it has its quirks.....

All the upper pistes, and I mean all the upper pistes, are only accessible via these homemade contraptions. 4- and 6-person, hand-welded steel Poma-type lifts. And they're not even on a loop, they are set up on two opposing cables, like the Snowbird cable car. The crazy Chilean cowboys running the damn things send you up like you've been shot off a catapult on a carrier deck, FULL THROTTLE.

Try riding one of these damn things with a couple of snowboarders. At 35 mph.

The cowboy, er "lift attendant" prepares to launch this poor motherf@%$^er like an F-14 Tomcat off a carrier deck.

When it reaches the top, the damn thing just STOPS. You're standing there BACKWARDS (ski tails pointing downhill) with a steel pipe holding you up by your crotch. One by one, the riders have to peel off, ski backwards, and slide out of the ride track, like an alpentour turn.

Every time I completed a ride on one of these things, I checked between my legs just to make sure the original equipment was still intact. Needless to say, I saw dozens of people (especially snowboarders) crash off these things, all day long. On my first ride of the day I was next to a snowboarder, and he ate shit after less than 10 seconds.

Now that I ponder that first ride, I think I LOVE these things. They eat snowboarders by the half-dozen.


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