Termas de Chillan / Valle Nevado 18Aug-30Aug


New member
First, we packed two double ski bags.
Him: Salomon Xtra Hots in 185 and Volkl CMH Heli-Skiing Skis in 190
Her: Salomon Hots in 155 and Volkl CMH Heli-Skiing Skis in 165

Other mandatory gear:
110 to 220 power converter, 1500 watt
Boot dryer
Spare poles
17" PowerBook, iPod, Altec-Lansing external dock & speakers
25 DVDs
Canon S50 camera
Sennheiser noise canceling headsets for the flight

Packing Screw-ups:
Only one set of powder cords
No squeegee for clearing goggles in the rain and wet snow

We landed in Santiago the morning of August 17th. 5 of us piled in a Kia diesel van with full gear and drove to Termas de Chillan. With that load and horsepower, it's 5 hours of driving and we did a solid 2 hours worth of stops for fuel, restroom, lunch, and grocery shopping. We hit the resort at about 4:30 and didn't ski until the 18th.

Day 1 was a boot-top powder day with deeper spots where the wind had moved snow. We discovered that very few people leave the marked groomed slopes. In the morning, we skied mostly easy off piste rarely crossing any tracks. In the afternoon, we ventured out of bounds off the top of the Don Otto double. Nice powder at the top and cement by the time you got to the bottom.

Day 2 was a windy and stale snow verision of day 1. Fun midwinter conditions at the top. Tricky halfway down. Spring conditions at the bottom. We were skiing off-piste the top half and then bailing to the groomed halfway down.

Day 3 was high winds with bullet-proof on the groomers and tricky crust on the ungroomed. We bailed after a few runs.

Day 4 was SNRAIN. Only the lower 2 levels of lifts were running. Wet snow midmountain. I went out solo for a few runs and quit when I went through the pocket full of kleenex cleaning my goggles. What was available was nice to ski on.

Day 5 was a nice powder day with fluff at the top, tricky windblown halfway down, and cement at the bottom.

Day 6 was an abbreviated day where we quit at noon to check out and drive to Santiago. Another 5+ hours in the Kia diesel minivan.

Day 7, we got driven up to Valle Nevado. The afternoon was a beautiful sunny powder day. We mostly did laps on the easy Olympicao out of bounds off piste in untracked boot-top powder.

Day 8 was cloudy when we woke up. The sun broke out as we were uploading. A major screw up since this was the day we should have gotten our La Parva lift ticket upgrade. We did a bunch of runs off the upper mountain T-bars. Off piste was tricky windblown in most places.

Days 9 and 10 were horizontal snow and zero visibility. We were supposed to leave but the road was closed.

Bonus Day 11. 8 feet of new powder. Sun. No wind. Maybe 200 people skiing. Face shots galore. Only the lower lifts were running but bottomless powder all day.

Bonus Day 12. They got the midmountain lift operational. We got to do it all again with untracked bottomless powder until we had to bail to catch our 3:00 ride down the mountain to Santiago.

We liked the resort experience at Termas de Chillan much better than Valle Nevado. The rooms are nicer with real beds instead of cheap back-killing twin mattresses. The staff is better trained. Check-in and Check-out aren't a clusterfxxx. The food isn't four star but it's somewhat better than Valle Nevado. The spa aspects of Termas are great with a nice hotspring-fed indoor/outdoor pool rather than a 30-foot diameter heated toilet. It's our 3rd time at Valle Nevado and I'm not sure we're ever coming back. Maybe a slopeside condo at la Parva.

I'm not particularly interested in driving to Termas de Chillan ever again. I'd probably fly to Conception and have the hotel drive me the 2 hours to the resort with a stop in Conception or Chillan to buy water and wine.

Termas de Chillan would suck if you were looking for groomers. There just aren't that many marked trails and the racers take most of them over until early afternoon. There were a ton of families at the resort and very few Americans. The place has Whistler syndrome with rain at the bottom and the best snow at the top. It's 3500 feet of vertial rather than Whistler's 5300 but you get the same kind of climate change. There are pockets of steeper terrain but the in-bounds part mountain as a whole is rather intermediate. The out of bounds has more opportunities to ski things with some pitch.

Termas de Chillan is much lower elevation. I live at sea level and I certainly appreciated sleeping at 5,000 feet rather than 10,000 feet.