Friday, August 07, 2009

Termas de Chillan, Chile

Conditions in Chile were perfect for tracking the Rare Alpine Skunk. It had been dumping for two days prior to our arrival in Nevados de Chillan.

Nevados de Chillan is reminiscent of Alta, but substantially larger. Mostly above treeline, very steep, very rocky. One major difference between Chillan and Alta is that the Chilean locals can't ski worth shit, so when conditions are good, you've got the steeps to yourself. Unlike Alta and Snowbird, a powder day doesn't consist of 400 local legends-in-their-own-minds elbowing you out of the way in the lift line and cursing at you. As is typical of South American ski resorts, more than half the terrain is only accessible via hiking or skinning. A very cool local phenomenon on the mountain are several volcanic hot springs. Traversing across an awesome, almost-vertical face in hip-deep powder, you'll get a strong whiff of sulfur. Suddenly, in front of you will appear a raging mountain stream erupting from the snow, and the water is hot. Steam billows into the sky.

All the indicators were pointing to a potential Skunk sighting at Nevados de Chillan:

20 inches of fresh powder? Check.

Steep and Deep? Check.

Snow soccer, anyone?

Nobody around. Virgin, untracked powder everywhere. Check.

No pasar? No problem in Chile. Just lift the ropes and go for it.

Yours truly, with CASA Tours owner David Johnson, aka Gomez.

Yours truly with the Antuco Volcano (see perfect snow-covered cone just above my head). Supposedly, when the conditions are right, Antuco can be skinned or hiked, after which you can ski about 6000 vertical feet down to a place called the M.I. Lodge. We had dinner at the M.I. Lodge last night, after which some of the group soaked in the hot springs. I was so beat from shredding hip-deep powder all day, from bell to bell, that I passed on the hot springs and was asleep by 9:15.

A quick plug for Maui Cyclery. My K2 Coombas have been working spectacularly. Great ski.

Looks like a Rare Alpine Skunk has been here.

Here too.

Here too.

The elusive Alpine Skunk is all over this mountain.

For the first skiing day at Chillan it continued to dump. Fantastic skiing, but sketchy visibility. Our adventures were mostly limited to inbounds, even with our hired guides, because skiing off cliffs obscured by weather and falling to our death was not on the agenda.

The second day was truly epic, in the finest sense of the word. Overcast but clear, miles of untracked powder, nobody around except our group. Not one minute spent inbounds, except when we took a lunch break at the lodge.

1 comment:

T-Rav said...

Jealous again! Me - stuck in Effing steaming North Carolina heading to the US Hopeless in a week (will be there for month). I should kill my self now!