2008 trip

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2008 trip

Postby Geoff » Thu Mar 27, 2008 7:08 am

After a divorce and job change aborted my trip last summer, I'm headed back down to Chile the last week of August. Termas de Chillan carried over my 30% deposit and my flight is on frequent flyer miles so it's not going to be a horribly expensive trip. Prices went up considerably with the US dollar in free fall. I get a 10% discount for booking direct but it still ain't cheap anymore and I'm paying 30% more than two summers ago.

I'm flying in on a Friday overnight flight, fiddling around in Santiago for a few hours buying wine, bottled water, and ski snacks, taking the Saturday afternoon train to Chillan, the free shuttle to the resort, and should be there in time for dinner. I'm doing 6 nights at the resort and the last two nights of my trip in Santiago at a good hotel on a cheap internet rate. I'm planning to take a late train back to Santiago so I'll be able to ski all 6 days. Depending on the snow, on the last two days I'll either snowcat ski at Ski Arpa or day trip up to Valle Nevado/La Parva.
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re: 2008 trip

Postby Admin » Thu Mar 27, 2008 7:40 am

:mrgreen: (with envy!)
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re: 2008 trip

Postby Tony Crocker » Thu Mar 27, 2008 11:04 am

Many thanks again to Geoff for the wine info last summer. FYI the Vinoteca wine shop in the Duty-Free area past airport security in Santiago had an excellent selection of the recommended wines in the Wine Advocate newsletter he sent me. You can buy wine there and they will give it to you just past the gate before you get on the plane. When you land in the U.S. you will need to put the wine in your checked bags after you clear customs if you have a connecting flight within the U.S.

I would caution skiers planning South America trips that La Nina is still strong as of February. This is very likely to be bad news for the areas near Santiago, and Las Lenas as well. I have no data for Chillan, but since it is farther south the impact of El Nino/La Nina is likely to be less strong than the other places.
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Re: re: 2008 trip

Postby Patrick » Thu Mar 27, 2008 1:18 pm

Admin wrote::mrgreen: (with envy!)


Ditto. :mrgreen:

Reminds me that I should finish that Novel I started a long long time ago. :roll:
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re: 2008 trip

Postby skibum4ever » Thu May 08, 2008 7:17 pm

We may have to go south to get to the snow. That's why we like to remain flexible in our plans, but flexible and SA don't really seem to mesh very well.

Someone please tell me, if we don't have reservations at or near the ski areas, and are not on a tour, are we likely to be messed up big time? This is in July, unfortunately.

I'm talking about flying to Santiago, having a reservation there for a few days, then renting a car and winging it depending on where the snow is best.

Advice, please. :?
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Re: re: 2008 trip

Postby Geoff » Thu May 08, 2008 8:30 pm

skibum4ever wrote:We may have to go south to get to the snow. That's why we like to remain flexible in our plans, but flexible and SA don't really seem to mesh very well.

Someone please tell me, if we don't have reservations at or near the ski areas, and are not on a tour, are we likely to be messed up big time? This is in July, unfortunately.

I'm talking about flying to Santiago, having a reservation there for a few days, then renting a car and winging it depending on where the snow is best.

Advice, please. :?


July seems to be their high season in Chile. I guess it's their holiday period. Resort lodging prices are certainly higher. I doubt things ever get truly crowded.

You can certainly sleep in Santiago and ski every day and you can do it without needing to rent a car.

Look here: http://www.skitotal.cl

If the snow is farther south, you can ski Termas de Chillan and stay down the hill a few miles in Las Trancas (Patrick? Details?)
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re: 2008 trip

Postby rfarren » Thu May 08, 2008 9:29 pm

Bariloche is further south, although the elevation is quite a bit lower than portillo. It isn't in chile of course, but airfare from santiago to Bariloche shouldn't be too much. The town of bariloche is by far the best of any ski town in south america, but the ski experience I believe will not be as "awe inspiring" as portillo or las lenas in a good year.
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re: 2008 trip

Postby Tony Crocker » Thu May 08, 2008 11:33 pm

Those who have skied much in South America do say to avoid the July holiday season. None of these places have efficient lift systems, so it won't take that much in the way of crowds to generate big lift lines.

In view of my weather related warnings, I would recommend the car rental and flexibility if you're going this year. Johnny Kay from Bozeman, with whom Patrick and I skied at Arpa, was touring that way with his wife for 3 weeks last year. Johnny said he was paying $75/day for a 4WD Nissan Murano.

The car rental means you can stay in Los Andes for Arpa/Portillo, Farellones for Valle Nevado group, and Las Trancas for Chillan. Convenient locations for cheaper prices than in the resorts and probably can reserve on short notice.
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Re: re: 2008 trip

Postby Patrick » Fri May 09, 2008 8:50 am

HI Barbara,

If there any reason why it has be be July? Geoff mentioned high season, later in the season would probably better for coverage.

Geoff wrote:July seems to be their high season in Chile. I guess it's their holiday period. Resort lodging prices are certainly higher. I doubt things ever get truly crowded.

You can certainly sleep in Santiago and ski every day and you can do it without needing to rent a car.

Look here: http://www.skitotal.cl


How long are you thinking of staying? Everything can be done without a car rental. There are a few ski operators in Santiago. Ski Total is one of them, a few of them don't even have websites. I used Ski Total for my booking at Portillo package, it included transportation (which I didn't used) and had the option of being able to book less than 7 days at Portillo. The only way to reserve less than one week at Portillo is if there is any room left and it's a last minute thing. I wouldn't wait to book at the last minute for Portillo in High season.

For buses from Santiago, I had initially planed to use Ski Total, but found out about another place doing the same thing a 10 minutes walk from where I stayed.

Geoff wrote:If the snow is farther south, you can ski Termas de Chillan and stay down the hill a few miles in Las Trancas (Patrick? Details?)


There are many options in Las Trancas.I've heard great thing about the MI Lodge (MIssion Impossible). I believe the Powderquest and CASA groups stayed there. I think that the MI lodge had transportations to and from the resort.

http://www.misnowchile.com/

I stayed at the Chil'In which isn't as high end as the MI Lodge.

http://www.chil-in.com/

If you travelled by yourselves, a little knowledge in Spanish is useful. Once you leave the Santiago areas (Portillo, Valle Nevado, La Parva, El Colorado), the number of English spoken drops off dramatically.

One thing that I know is that South America is very different from North America in term of running a ski hill (especially for the lesser known places). Expect the unexpected, don't stress, relax. Lift run when they run. Don't expect thing to be on time or open...just enjoy and go with the flow. No need to compare with NA, because you might end up frustrated. I've observed it myself, but I've also mostly heard much about it from others.

Another option is going what Tony did last year. There are a bunch of ski tour groups that hit a bunch of places.
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re: 2008 trip

Postby Tony Crocker » Fri May 09, 2008 11:16 am

Upon rereading the original post, I do note the trip is scheduled for July. I would try to move it to August, or better yet August of 2009.

If that is not possible, I would advocate the rental car option even more. The on-hill lodging may be sold out (very likely at Portillo), and even if not will be at maximum price.

I would be inclined to avoid the Valle Nevado group this July. The combination of crowds/road traffic and lesser average snowfall than the other places even in normal years (which is what I saw in 2007 and was not impressed) is not promising IMHO.

I would expect Chillan and other southern areas to be less busy than Valle Nevado/Portillo, besides having better odds for snow.

Skibum4ever and spouse are retirees who are used to skiing out of their condos at Mammoth and Keystone. I just can't see recommending staying in Santiago and spending a minimum of 4 hours each day (probably more since it's peak season) on slow public transit with multiple stops up and down the hill.

If you don't know any Spanish and are uncomfortable with do-it-youself driving, try contacting http://santiagoadventures.com, who had a driver for our trip. They are willing to be flexible when possible. And you might want to view this trip like New Zealand, where skiing is just a part. It will be especially easy to incorporate a wine tour between Santiago and Chillan. And if skiing is not good, maybe go visit the Atacama Desert or Easter Island instead.
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re: 2008 trip

Postby jasoncapecod » Fri May 09, 2008 11:44 am

According to the NWS boys La Nina is starting to weaken...

EL NIÑO/SOUTHERN OSCILLATION (ENSO)

DIAGNOSTIC DISCUSSION
issued by
CLIMATE PREDICTION CENTER/NCEP
8 May 2008

Spanish Version


Synopsis: A transition from La Niña to ENSO-neutral conditions is possible during June- July 2008.

La Niña continued to weaken during April 2008, as reflected by changes in sea surface temperatures (SSTs) across the equatorial Pacific Ocean. Negative SST anomalies in the central and east-central equatorial Pacific have weakened, while positive SST anomalies are confined to parts of the eastern equatorial Pacific (Fig. 1). The latest weekly SSTs in the westernmost Niño-4 and Niño-3.4 regions are between 0.6°C and 0.8°C below average, while departures in the easternmost Niño-3 and Niño-1+2 regions are 0°C and -0.3°C respectively (Fig. 2).

Positive subsurface ocean temperatures at thermocline depth have continued to increase in central and east-central equatorial Pacific (Fig. 3). While this increase has resulted in positive heat content anomalies (average temperatures in the upper 300m of the ocean; Fig 4), a shallow layer of negative anomalies in the central Pacific continues to persist between the surface and 100m. Despite these changes, SSTs remain sufficiently cool to maintain the persistent atmospheric anomalies associated with La Niña. Enhanced low-level easterly winds and upper-level westerly winds continued across the central equatorial Pacific, convection remained suppressed throughout the central equatorial Pacific, and enhanced convection covered the far western Pacific. Collectively, these atmospheric and oceanic conditions indicate an ongoing La Niña.

A majority of the recent dynamical and statistical SST forecasts for the Niño 3.4 region indicate La Niña will persist through May-June-July 2008 (Fig. 5). Thereafter, there is considerable spread in the forecasts, with the majority reflecting ENSO-neutral conditions (-0.5 to 0.5 in the Niño-3.4 region) during the second half of the year. However, the spread of the models spans the possibility of a return to La Niña or even an El Niño by the end of 2008. Based on current atmospheric and oceanic conditions and recent trends, a transition from La Niña to ENSO-neutral conditions is possible during June- July 2008.

Atmospheric conditions related to La Niña often persist for a couple months after SSTs return to ENSO-neutral conditions. Expected La Niña impacts during May-July 2008 include a continuation of above-average precipitation over Indonesia and below-average precipitation over the central equatorial Pacific.

This discussion is a consolidated effort of the National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration (NOAA), NOAA’s National Weather Service, and their funded institutions. Oceanic and atmospheric conditions are updated weekly on the Climate Prediction Center web site (El Niño/La Niña Current Conditions and Expert Discussions). Forecasts for the evolution of El Niño/La Niña are updated monthly in the Forecast Forum section of CPC's Climate Diagnostics Bulletin. The next ENSO Diagnostics Discussion is scheduled for 5 June 2008. To receive an e-mail notification when the monthly ENSO Diagnostic Discussions are released, please send an e-mail message to: ncep.list.enso-update@noaa.gov.


Climate Prediction Center
National Centers for Environmental Prediction
NOAA/National Weather Service
Camp Springs, MD 20746-4304

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Re: re: 2008 trip

Postby Patrick » Fri May 09, 2008 11:58 am

Tony Crocker wrote:Upon rereading the original post, I do note the trip is scheduled for July. I would try to move it to August, or better yet August of 2009.


Agree, however maybe not as late as 2009.

Tony Crocker wrote:If that is not possible, I would advocate the rental car option even more. The on-hill lodging may be sold out (very likely at Portillo), and even if not will be at maximum price. I would be inclined to avoid the Valle Nevado group this July. The combination of crowds/road traffic and lesser average snowfall than the other places even in normal years (which is what I saw in 2007 and was not impressed) is not promising IMHO.


Portillo: Definitely needs to be look at. If there is no availability, see through ski total or other groups.

Valle Nevado is the biggest area, I suspect it has also one of the best snowmaking in Chile also?

Roads: one of the reasons why renting a car isn't a relaxing option.

Tony Crocker wrote:I would expect Chillan and other southern areas to be less busy than Valle Nevado/Portillo, besides having better odds for snow.


Less busy yes, not sure what are the accumulations numbers. It's colder, but also lower in altitude. Termas de Chillan isn't the most modern of ski hill, so I couldn't say about the facilities regrading getting the hill ready in low snow years. El Colorado/Valle Nevado have to deal with a bunch of camps from the Northern Hemisphere, so they have get the hill in minimum skiable shape. Although they are some teams at Termas, the number wouldn't be so important.

Tony Crocker wrote:Skibum4ever and spouse are retirees who are used to skiing out of their condos at Mammoth and Keystone. I just can't see recommending staying in Santiago and spending a minimum of 4 hours each day (probably more since it's peak season) on slow public transit with multiple stops up and down the hill.


Ski Buses only stop at one store :roll: (not the same as buses out of SLC), this said, they get at the hill at around 10-10:30. Generally leave at 8am. But I agree, I would see skibum4ever staying more at Farrellones or Valle Nevado. She should definitely call into the different ski groups to see what they offer as safari packages.

Santiago aventures, Powderquest, CASA, South America ski, snoventures, ski total...and more. There are a bunch of organized trip/groups. I can't speak to whom they cater to, but I'm sure one of them would be a good fit.
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re: 2008 trip

Postby Tony Crocker » Fri May 09, 2008 12:12 pm

Jason's quoted narrative is consistent with a graph I saw recently. According to MEI, La Nina peaked in FEB/MAR and weakened quite a bit the next month. But note that most still believe La Nina will be in effect through July, and June/July are the highest average snow months in South America. The first strong La Nina month was last AUG/SEP, and Portillo/Valle Nevado/Las Lenas were bone dry after August 20.

Valle Nevado is the biggest area, I suspect it has also one of the best snowmaking in Chile also?
In view of their lift operations, do we really think South American snowmaking is going to be on a par with Killington, Snow Summit, etc.? I don't think anyone is flying 5,000 miles to ski on WRODs. I would actually trust Portillo more in this regard. They are American-owned and have been hosting ski teams for decades.

This debate between Patrick and me only underscores why skibum4ever should be flexible. If they have a rental car (or a driver like we had last year), they can see who was right when they get there and make plans accordingly.

FWIW Coronet Peak in NZ does have world class snowmaking. There was an interesting magazine article about how their snowmakers move on to Loveland in late September to produce what Patrick skied last October.
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Re: re: 2008 trip

Postby Patrick » Fri May 09, 2008 2:05 pm

Tony Crocker wrote:
Valle Nevado is the biggest area, I suspect it has also one of the best snowmaking in Chile also?
In view of their lift operations (...) I don't think anyone is flying 5,000 miles to ski on WRODs. I would actually trust Portillo more in this regard. They are American-owned and have been hosting ski teams for decades.

No, but it's a good insurance policy to having no snowmaking and skiing on rocks. Of course, we're talking worst case scenarios here. The only reason why I was talking about Valle Nevado, was that I'm not convinced about Termas abilities. I do agree that Portillo probably has something good, however Portillo interesting terrain in beyond the groomers. If you compare groomers and on-piste runs and variety, I believe that Valle Nevado might be more interesting for Mr. and Mrs. skibum4ever.

PS. I have no experience on lack-of-snow / snowmaking in these areas, I might totally be mistaken. These are my impressions only.
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re: 2008 trip

Postby Tony Crocker » Fri May 09, 2008 4:41 pm

I would agree with Patrick that Chillan is the least likely to have much snowmaking. But it's also the most likely to have natural snow, as Patrick observed (and I, unfortunately, did not) when the La Nina was ramping up last September. Thus the call to maintain flexibility. When bad years can be under 100 inches, one should be thinking about interesting non-skiing activities as possible backup.
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