Unlike the more cosmopolitan Las Leñas, Portillo lets its terrain do the talking: wicked steeps (try 50 degrees) and endless pitches (up to 3,000 vert, if you climb) challenge even the world’s top freeskiers. While many athletes are enduring the halfpipe chaos of Mt. Hood or the hard-charging, glacier race-o-rama of Europe, a few in-the-know U.S. Ski Teamers and big-mountain filmmakers are privately gloating on Tio Bob’s mid-mountain deck in Portillo. (For more info, see “The Inside Line: Portillo.”)
Opening Dates: The area is open from mid June through early October; August and September are the choice months.
Snow: Last year, Portillo was hammered by more than 450 inches of snow. The average is 240.
Terrain: All of Portillo’s 800 inbounds acres (all above tree line) are open in the fall, but there’s loads more terrain among the wide-open bowls and chutes beyond the resort border (not that you’ll notice-there are no boundary signs or ropes). Don’t miss the 7,000-foot, 45-degree Super C couloir.
Biggest Storm: Forget inches-the dumps here are measured in meters. In early June 2002, a torrential storm deposited 5.6 meters-or 17 feet-in six days.
Deals: From September 20 through October 4, it’s $910 for seven nights’ lodging at the Hotel Portillo, lift tickets, three meals plus high tea daily (800-829-5325, skiportillo.com).
Nightlife: Portillo is a very small village with only two late-night options: Party in the hotel’s disco or, if you dare, venture out of the hotel to La Posada. If it’s bling bling you’re after, go to Las Leñas or Valle Nevado.
Info: 800-829-5325; skiportillo.com