Which resort in Argentina/Chile?

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Re: re: Which resort in Argentina/Chile?

Postby Patrick » Sat Jul 07, 2007 9:24 am

Geoff wrote:The off-piste at Valle Nevado riding the el Colorado T-bar and skiing down to the Valle Nevado access road is probably the best in Chile.

That the place I was thinking about the backcountry earlier. I've seen picture taken from another friend (not SuperNat) that has done it.

I believe it was Max (who used to write here more often a few years ago) that told me that the place had disappointed him. I found out when I bumped into him at Wildcat than he had been in Chile last Summer. I've read other comments with the same evaluation of the place. Of course, this is second hand.
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re: Which resort in Argentina?

Postby Tony Crocker » Sun Jul 08, 2007 12:55 am

I did make it clear that my recommendations were secondhand.

I did have an extended conversation with David Owen at Powderquest, and posted a reference to their 8-day trip out of Santiago. They ski in small guided groups, carry avy gear and emphasize off-piste. They spend 3 1/2 days in Farallones to ski at all 3 areas in the Valle Nevado group. So I'm not exactly denigrating those areas. I'm modeling my own trip after theirs and spending 3 of my 7 ski days there. David also mentioned the area around El Colorado's backside T-bar, and that Powderquest tours do some off-piste runs with road shuttle pickups.

With regard to heliskiing, I had what may have been my ultimate ski day with Chugach Powder Guides last March, and it seemed to be a professional operation that takes safety seriously. So when one of their guides says he works the summer heli guiding out of Valle Nevado, I thought I'd pass that info along. After my week in Las Lenas I am certainly aware that operational standards in South America are sometimes not what we are used to here.

With regard to Chillan, you're right. NASJA was going to be in Chile only 8 days, and I didn't think that it was ideal to spend 2 full days just in transit. So when I had to plan the trip on my own I did not research Chillan after I found the El Arpa/Portillo option. In South America sometimes air connections are not good, and perhaps the transit time to Chillan is unavoidable. I've certainly heard positive comments about Chillan skiing, and NASJA is likely to try to run this trip some other year.

My comments were in relation to ChrisC's hypothetical itinerary, which would put a priority on efficiency.
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re: Which resort in Argentina?

Postby ChrisC » Wed Jul 11, 2007 12:38 am

Thanks for responses. Appreciate it all.

If anyone could chime in on some questions:

How good are Valle Nevado interconnections? To La Parva and El Colorado?

Why does this place generally get just mediocre reviews? It seems a decent choice all together to me.

What do people do about skis if traveling to other places in South America. Sounds like you want to bring your own. Could you bring some with you...Fedex home...and go travel?
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Re: re: Which resort in Argentina?

Postby Patrick » Wed Jul 11, 2007 8:55 am

ChrisC wrote:How good are Valle Nevado interconnections? To La Parva and El Colorado?


I don't recall hearing something specific on this, except that it made for an expensive lift ticket that is good at all areas.

ChrisC wrote:Why does this place generally get just mediocre reviews? It seems a decent choice all together to me.


My understanding from Max (I hope he read this and he can correct me if I'm wrong) is that he went out once at Valle Nevado and the other at El Colorado (La Parva was closed for the season). He didn't particularly like them. VN has long flats on the main side and there isn't much diversity in the slopes at El Colorado (it's a simple cone). Both of them have a few good pitchs, but disappointed versus what he found at Portillo.

I don't think that my friend SuperNat was negative toward them, but I don't recall great things either. The Skibumette that made to LaGrave two seasons ago skied a few weeks at El Colorado. She liked the place, but she's also a ex-racer that loves gates.

ChrisC wrote:What do people do about skis if traveling to other places in South America. Sounds like you want to bring your own. Could you bring some with you...Fedex home...and go travel?


That is one that I'm also very curious about. I'll definitely bring my skis if I go, but I won't ski everyday and heard great things about Val Paraiso from SuperNat, Max and others.
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re: Which resort in Argentina?

Postby JimG. » Wed Jul 11, 2007 2:16 pm

I'm still trying to figure out how we went from Argentina to Chile.

I spent a week in Portillo. If you want alot of lift serviced terrain, it probably isn't the best choice for you. But I don't think Chris is too picky about hiking some.

That was my case and I could have easily spent another week there between the almost limitless hiking/BC options and the on-site heli-skiing service. I was not bored at all and that week still rates amongst my top 5.

And what is good about Portillo is it is self-contained. You don't need to sign up to go there with a group to get guides or BC knowledge. Just sign up and pay as you go. If they don't have someone who can guide you to where you want to go on-site, they'll get someone.

Frankly, there was so much hike to terrain to explore I never got around to needing a guide.
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re: Which resort in Argentina?

Postby Tony Crocker » Wed Jul 11, 2007 2:23 pm

From David Owen at Powderquest:
1) If you drew a boundary line around all 3 resorts, the acreage would be about as much as Vail. Of course it doesn't ski like Vail because it's not all seamless and lift coneected.
2) Valle Nevado is biggest and the snow tends to blow in there. La Parva has the most interesting terrain, but it will be sketchy in low snow years (Max's trip?). El Colorado's frontside is flat but the backside T-bar area is good.
3) The Valle Nevado/La Parva connection is not that difficult, but it's high on the mountain. With only one high speed lift among all 3 areas and potential weather closures I can see possible logistics issues in trying to ski a lot at La Parva while based in Valle Nevado. Powderquest sleeps in Farellones and alternates ski days out of the La Parva and Valle Nevado bases. But if you're on your own it's unclear whether there's shuttle from Farellones to Valle Nevado.
4) The Valle Nevado/El Colorado connection is lower down and goes to that backside T-bar.
5) Valle Nevado room packages include lift tickets. You pay a $10 or $15 upgrade to access the other areas.

With regard to bringing your own skis, I had a bad experience in Las Lenas when I did not. So I think you just have to suck it up and arrange the logisitics to store them in your hotels when you're doing other things. I carried skis to Tahiti in 1982 and Fiji last year. A hotel in Lima will store them this year while we're in Cusco and on the Inca Trail. Buenos Aires, Iguazu and Rio would have been a hassle in 2005 but still doable. What you want to avoid is small planes into secondary airports. But you usually enter the country through a major city like Lima or Buenos Aires, so you should arrange to store the ski gear there.

I'm sure Geoff will chime in on these issues. Powderquest emphasizes lots of off-piste skiing on their trips. What I would like to know is how dependent this is upon guides for both navigation and safety? In most North American areas you can explore a lot on your own. In Europe you get a lot more out the experience if you're guided, and it's essential at a place like La Grave. Las Lenas was definitely in the Europe camp on this subject. I had only one clear day on Marte with a slower group, so I could navigate some but not comprehensively if I went back there. Adam was with Joe Lammers, so if we were together we could probably do OK.
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Re: re: Which resort in Argentina?

Postby Patrick » Wed Jul 11, 2007 2:58 pm

Tony Crocker wrote:.
2) Valle Nevado is biggest and the snow tends to blow in there. La Parva has the most interesting terrain, but it will be sketchy in low snow years (Max's trip?). El Colorado's frontside is flat but the backside T-bar area is good.


I don't know if it was a bad year? Max was there late September last season. From my understanding, all the non-South American were gone for the season.

JimG. wrote:I'm still trying to figure out how we went from Argentina to Chile.

You drive across the border. :wink: Hopeful the Border crossing wasn't too difficult? :lol:

JimG. wrote:You don't need to sign up to go there with a group to get guides or BC knowledge. Just sign up and pay as you go. If they don't have someone who can guide you to where you want to go on-site, they'll get someone.

Frankly, there was so much hike to terrain to explore I never got around to needing a guide.


Sorry Jim, I'm not entirely clear here (maybe because I've been going out everynight this week). You're talking about individual guide available at the ski area. They'll bring you somewhere in the BC even if there isn't a group (there isn't a minimum requirement)? I presume the cost if for the guide divided by the amount of skiers in the guide?

How is the terrain controlled (ie. avy danger evaluated like in France although not necessarily controlled). What is your evaluation of the danger of the terrain you hiked?
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Re: re: Which resort in Argentina?

Postby JimG. » Thu Jul 12, 2007 10:32 am

Patrick wrote:
JimG. wrote:I'm still trying to figure out how we went from Argentina to Chile.

You drive across the border. :wink: Hopeful the Border crossing wasn't too difficult? :lol:

JimG. wrote:You don't need to sign up to go there with a group to get guides or BC knowledge. Just sign up and pay as you go. If they don't have someone who can guide you to where you want to go on-site, they'll get someone.

Frankly, there was so much hike to terrain to explore I never got around to needing a guide.


Sorry Jim, I'm not entirely clear here (maybe because I've been going out everynight this week). You're talking about individual guide available at the ski area. They'll bring you somewhere in the BC even if there isn't a group (there isn't a minimum requirement)? I presume the cost if for the guide divided by the amount of skiers in the guide?

How is the terrain controlled (ie. avy danger evaluated like in France although not necessarily controlled). What is your evaluation of the danger of the terrain you hiked?


Interestingly, there is a tunnel right near Portillo that goes through the Andes directly to Argentina. There are military bases on both sides of the tunnel, one in Argentina and one right near Portillo...you can see it from the high traverse. They don't like each other much.

As for the guiding question, I was unclear. The Hotel Portillo is run by Americans and most of the employees are American. It's an intimate place (for instance, all meals are served on a schedule and everyone eats meals together), so skiers who spend all their time on the high traverse or over by the lake runs on the hike to terrain get noticed by the locals. We were approached by several instructors who invited us to go on hikes I would never have tried alone, and ski patrollers run the heli-skiing operation and are the guides. So, once you get in with the locals and you want to try some far away line you see, they will get you there if possible. Anything close by is free, longer tours (a day in the BC) can be arranged for a price.

There is some avi control work done, but most of the time you have to check the avalanche warning board in the downstairs ski patrol office for avalanche updates. It snowed twice when we were there and the snow was well consolidated, but still there were days when the high traverse was off limits. Some of the hikes we did had to be done early in the morning before the sun was too intense; that kind of knowledge had to be gotten from the locals. You've got to be smart here.

My closest encounter with a potential avalanche happened one day on the high traverse. We went way way out to the very end of the traverse where the terrain is steepest (45-50 degrees in places) and we were directly across from the Chilean military base I mentioned. At the top of a steep narrow chute I suddenly hear a loud "BOOM" and an artillery shell goes whizzing right over the top of the peak we were on. That was followed by slough moving right down across the traverse just in front of where I was. After the second "BOOM" I pretty much moved about 200 yards in 3 seconds off that traverse while another bigger slough came down.

It was not avi control...they were practicing shooting artillery.
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Re: re: Which resort in Argentina?

Postby Geoff » Thu Jul 12, 2007 11:19 am

ChrisC wrote:Thanks for responses. Appreciate it all.

If anyone could chime in on some questions:

How good are Valle Nevado interconnections? To La Parva and El Colorado?


Here is a link to a trail map:
http://www.chileanski.com/images/valle- ... l-high.jpg
Lifts #6, #7, and #8 at the highest elevation on that trail map are platter lifts. Lift #4 is the high speed quad. Lift #1 is the main midmountain quad.

Where you see "Al Colorado", that is the base of a T-bar up the back side of el Colorado. There is usually a bump course on it with a couple of kickers.

From the top of the main Andes Express high speed quad at Valle Nevado, if you go straight for 200 yards, you are at La Parva. The return is equally trivial. You take the highest, rightmost chair at La Parva, make a few turns and traverse to skier's left and you're at Valle Nevado.

From the top of the main high speed quad at Valle Nevado, if you go straight for 50 yards and hang a left into the un-patrolled intermediate Olympico bowl (easy but a real delight), you'll end up near the T-Bar that goes up the steep back side of el Colorado.

This shot is taken from the hotel complex at Valle Nevado. The high speed quad goes to the peak on the right. Olympico Bowl is beyond the ridge line:
Image

This is the off-piste sign for Olympico 50 yards from the top of the high speed quad:
Image

This was taken maybe 1/4 of the way down Olympico. Pretty flat at the top, intermediate at the bottom:
Image

If you stay at Valle Nevado, you can pay a small amount of cash at the ticket window to get an upgrade for the day to ski La Parva. I always did that on any sunny day.

ChrisC wrote:Why does this place generally get just mediocre reviews? It seems a decent choice all together to me.

The skiing is fairly intermediate. If you are looking for high pucker factor terrain, this ain't the place. The off-piste from the back of el Colorado down to the Valle Nevado access road excluded.

Here is some footage taken in Olympico Bowl at Valle Nevado (Quicktime .mov format, if you don't have it, the free viewer is on the Apple site). As you can see, it's pleasant intermediate off-piste, not adreno-junkie territory:
http://www.geoffdevine.com/geoff_vallenevado2.mov


ChrisC wrote:What do people do about skis if traveling to other places in South America. Sounds like you want to bring your own. Could you bring some with you...Fedex home...and go travel?

Americans tend to always bring their own. Everybody else tends to rent. As Tony can tell you, the rental stock in South America can be iffy. 8)
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Climbing and Skiing in Peru

Postby Patrick » Sat Jul 14, 2007 3:32 pm

JimG. wrote:I'm still trying to figure out how we went from Argentina to Chile.

While we're at it, why not add something about skiing in Peru? :shock:

Especially than Tony is going to spend sometimes in that country. :wink:

Here is a Hardcore TR from T4T forum. Climbing and Skiing in Peru.

It has a great video...I need a nap just thinking about it.:roll:

http://www.timefortuckerman.com/forums/ ... php?t=8561

cfrac wrote:It took me a year to finally get this project online. We spent 5 weeks in the Cordillera Blanca last summer (July/August 2006) skiing, climbing, throwing up, experiencing explosive diahhrea etc...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D1CzNqth63o
Last edited by Patrick on Mon Jul 16, 2007 3:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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re: Which resort in Argentina/Chile?

Postby Tony Crocker » Mon Jul 16, 2007 12:19 am

Like that post for the Utah backcountry a year ago where someone climbed 3 peaks and skied 9,000 vertical, I have little doubt that the Peru skiing is out of my league.

Is it in anyone's league of the FTO regulars? Maybe Mark Renson. I think he's done a couple of those guided backcountry weeks in the Selkirks. Needless to say, anyone who's thinking about trying something like this should hire guides who know the area.

I once Googled "easiest 6,000 meter peak" and came up with this in Bolivia: http://www.climbecuador.com/itinerb.htm . Note that this trip also climbs that "highest developed ski area" Chacaltaya. Huayna Potosi is considered the easiest 6,000 meter peak because it's a 2 day climb above a well equipped hotel at 15,000 feet. In Peru and Ecuador the hikes are longer in both distance and elevation gain. Easy is a relative term, as that hotel is 500 feet higher than Mt. Whitney.
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Re: re: Which resort in Argentina/Chile?

Postby Patrick » Mon Jul 16, 2007 9:07 pm

Tony Crocker wrote:Needless to say, anyone who's thinking about trying something like this should hire guides who know the area.


I was just kidding of course. If anyone doubts what Tony is saying on Peru, better read this quote from cfrac on T4T.

cfrac wrote:
8: Body bag!?! What happened?


The snow was amazing untracked corn but to get it the timing window is narrow, night were dropping to about 10F and by about 10am the snow would start to corn up but any shady spots were still icy, by 2pm it would start to ice up again.
(...)
The body bag was the result of a grim accident, when we arrived at Artesonraju a film crew was there to film a swedish snowboarder ride the face, he made one turn and slid the face into a crevasse. The face is at least 60+ degrees at the top with rock bands lower, it looked completely insane. Prior to this there were three other major accidents of climbers falling or being swept off the face by serac collapse. The recovery team was a group of Peruvian Police that told us not to die because they were tired of carrying bodies out. It took them two days to make it back to the road. We were definitely shaken up by the scene, basecamp cleared out and then the weather turned bad so we called it quits.
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re: Which resort in Argentina/Chile?

Postby Tony Crocker » Wed Aug 01, 2007 3:39 pm

End of July season-to-date snowfall totals:
Portillo 256 inches
Valle Nevado 139 inches

Base depth range at Las Lenas is 70-240cm.
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Re: re: Which resort in Argentina/Chile?

Postby JimG. » Thu Aug 02, 2007 7:36 am

Tony Crocker wrote:End of July season-to-date snowfall totals:
Portillo 256 inches
Valle Nevado 139 inches

Base depth range at Las Lenas is 70-240cm.


WOW! Portillo must be rocking.

Wish I were there.
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re: Which resort in Argentina/Chile?

Postby Tony Crocker » Thu Aug 02, 2007 11:03 am

http://www.powderquest.com/news.aspx has commentary on recent weather in the Andes. The big dumps were mid June and early July but there was a small refresher storm a week ago.
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