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From Chile’s capital city Santiago, Valle Nevado is about a one-hour drive, rising 7,700 feet. Here is the road – which has around 70 switchbacks. One person in our group got carsick. This is not uncommon.
Though it’s hard to see through the smog, Santiago and its six-million-plus inhabitants sit right up against the 10,000-foot peaks of the Andes. LAN Airlines, seen here, is the main Chilean airline, offering daily direct flights to Santiago from New York, Los Angeles, and Miami.
On Valle Nevado’s back side, there are runs like Adrenalina – Spanish for, you guessed it, adrenaline. Pro skiers like Eric Hjorleifson have skied the out-of-bounds couloirs you see in the background. I did not. Despite the spray from this turn, the snow was quite firm.
Livin’ it up at the Puerta del Sol Hotel, pictured here. The most family-oriented of Valle Nevado’s three hotels, rooms here start at $181 a night. The Puerta del Sol has a Swiss restaurant, an Italian restaurant, a lounge, and a big ol’ hot tub with a killer view.
The Andes Express lift is the resort’s only detachable quad with a vertical rise of 1,378 feet servicing the rolling high-alpine terrain. Valle Nevado has a total 2,600-foot vertical drop with a max elevation of 12,000 feet and 2,000 skiable acres.
Termas de Chillan Ski Resort lies approximately 250 miles south of Santiago. The resort has 25,000 acres of skiable terrain, mostly off-piste. Due to the early-season conditions (it was late June), I spent many runs feeling ze carve on groomers.
Riding the Don Otto lift at Termas de Chillan, you have some time to kill. The fixed-grip double takes about 20 minutes to carry you 2,296 vertical feet up the mountain. The scenery’s great, but I amused myself by taking pictures of the Skiing Magazine‘s Fluff ski, a custom Volkl Bridge designed by Skiing‘s Associate Art Director Mark Lesh.
These skis were the prize for the best Letter to the Editor each month. For the 2008-2009 season, winners will get the K2 Brewski – a ski with an awesome PBR top sheet. To submit your own letter to Skiing‘s editors, click here.