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It’s easy to believe that the party never stops in Chile. Elaborately masked dancers parade down city streets, surrounded by crowds of feverishly jockeying locals and tourists with camera phones held high overhead. For the last 35 minutes I’ve been bumping my way through central Santiago in the midst of what I can only guess is some sort of street festival. Men and women dance in scant tribal clothing, whirling in unison to drums and horns in a scene resembling something from Return of the Jedi—minus the giant slug and hovercrafts.
Men dressed in full riot gear casually stroll though the crowd chatting. Loose dogs lie languidly amidst the chaos. My new friends—an incredibly hungover group of skiers—can’t help but dance along in the streets. We’ve been dancing and skiing all week at La Parva, Chile’s Eye of the Condor Photo and Film Competition.
I’m supposed to go back to the hotel and then leave Chile, but I don’t want to disappoint Rodrigo Medina. It’s his fault I’m here at all. He’s been sharing the same joy we’re watching on Santiago’s streets with us all week. The beat of these drums resonates from the city into the Andes high above, and quite possibly through the blood of every Chilean.
Rodrigo is the marketing guru at La Parva, Chile. Two years ago, he dreamed up the Eye of the Condor contest to show off what made his corner of the Andes so special. He invited skiers, filmmakers, and photographers to capture a weeklong experience at what he passionately calls “the best (expletive deleted) resort in the universe.” They had so much success last year he invited me down to check out EOTC2.
After leaving 94-degree Denver wearing only a tank top, I welcome the first luscious blast of icy air. Our busload of eager skiers begins the 7000-foot ascent from the city to La Parva. After 40 switchbacks, we arrive.
Photo: Jordan Ingmire
It’s 2:30 pm, but the lifts don’t shut down till 5. I ditch my gear in my condo and boot up. It’s July and I’m getting lift laps. Hell, yes. We scatter all over, eating it up. The lifties smile every time we say “Gracias.” When dinner hits it’s hard to take our boots off. Later in the week we won’t bother.
Chilean hospitality knocks us over at the first meal: three courses and plenty of Pisco—a grape brandy that will be coursing through our veins by week’s end. The waiters speak just enough English to laugh at our feeble attempts at Spanish. Dinner is followed by Disco. The lifts don’t open till nine, and there will be time to sleep in the States.
The next morning, while the competition starts, I ski a line called “La Chimenea.” It’s a narrow, 40-degree chute that starts in a no-fall-zone and lasts for what seems like ages. Teams disperse across the ridgelines hiking, filming, and laughing because it’s winter again.
Stay tuned for Part Two: Shooting La Chimenea at Night, by Team WIDSIXathlete TJ David.
Thanks to Jordan Ingmire Photography: jordaningmire.com