Freshly back from NZ (and still jet-lagged, I think I feel worse after the return leg, rather than the outward leg? Just something I've noticed over the years), but it's time to head back down south and back to Chile, with 4 weeks skiing at Nevados de Chillan. This will be summer number 4 down in Chile and I'm looking forward to skiing some pow. We got the views in NZ, but we didn't get the snow. Hopefully this trip will make up for that.
So far, the southern resorts in Chile are doing really well this season. Admittedly, I haven't been keeping too much up to date with what's happening further north and the resorts closer to Santiago, but I don't think they are doing quite as well as the south. Nevados de Chillan has been having a great season with more than 4m of snowfalls and a great base established. I believe they have been a little busier this summer due to the north not having quite as much snow. Hopefully as August progresses, it will start to quieten down.
This season I have a couple of groups coming down. Most of my guests are from the US, but we have some from the UK and also Australia. I know most of the people on the trip already, only 1 person I have not met before. Should be a good crew. Fingers crossed there is a storm brewing for the second day of the trip (11th August). Would love to get some powder turns in early.
I think for this trip, given I did a lot of writing for the NZ trip and I've been reporting from N de C for a few years now, I think I'll be focusing more on photos and video's rather than copious amounts of writing. I will pick up the slack when I do the second trip report in September when I head down to Corralco and Antillanca. They will be new trips so I will give more focus to them. So, fingers crossed for a fun and safe time. The adventure starts tomorrow!
International (Europe/Japan/NZ/Au) Chile 2019 Trip Report - Nevados de Chillan
It’s been a week or so since I arrived in Chile, so what has been happening? Lets’ go through it all…… I arrived in Concepcion on the 9th August after a decent flight in from Denver, via Houston and Santiago. There were no problems to report during my travels. I headed straight to the Ibis Concepcion with one of my other guests, Bob, also from CO. My other guest and friend, John, his flight from Dallas was delayed so he did not arrive till the next morning, on the 10th. We also had Louise from the UK and Dr. Billy, from the US Virgin Islands arriving that afternoon too. Our local guide Manuel, arrived at noon and we went across to the Concepcion mall, to pick up some last-minute items. All the guests arrived safely that afternoon with all the luggage, so off we went.
First stop was the Motoneta 3 restaurant outside Chillan. That was really nice, we had a couple of BBQ meat platters and salads, that was a great way to start the trip. We arrived after 8pm, checked-in and then went straight through the indoor avi safety training. Our other guest, Dave, from the UK (he is skiing with Manuel) was already at the accommodation after arriving a few days earlier. That took until about 11:30pm and then I had to get my gear ready, so I didn’t get to bed until about 1am.
The next day, we were up early and headed to the mountain for about 9:30am. A storm had just started and it was snowing quite hard. We had a couple of runs to stretch the legs and check out everyone’s skiing with a nice lap in the Freeride Zone after traversing from the Nono T-bar. Then we had to start on-snow avi training. Everyone did a great job with their single burials and we enjoyed a nice beer to celebrate the start of the trip, at our usual watering hole, the hotel Alto Nevados. We had a really nice meal at Oliva’s Restaurant, just up the road.
The 12th August saw bluebird skies and more than 30cm’s of fresh. It was quite busy, all the locals were out and everyone was getting out after it, but we managed to ski plenty of fresh lines. Stability was great and all the steep runs were in play. We skied first tracks in the bowl above the Otto chair and then skied an awesome run down the skier’s right side of Tres Marias, with no other lines in there. That was the best snow and line I’ve had in Tres Marias. After lunch we did some more beacon training.
On the 13th August, it was a lot quieter, all the locals were happier with the previous day’s powder and we had the mountain to ourselves again. It was starting to warm up, but we had a great session skiing the bowls high above Otto into the Pirigallo Valley. We had a couple of people in the group who had not skinned before, so I went through a whole progression, to show them the skills necessary. There was a lot to go through, but there is great terrain to learn in a progressive way (putting all the gear on, push and glide, using the climbing aids, round turns, VAV/AVA turns, kick turns, downhill kick turns, downhilling on skins, transitioning back to downhill mode). It took an hour or so to go through all of that, before we got to the top of the run. We had some nice soft untouched snow on our run. We did one more after lunch.
On the 14th August, it was really starting to warm up (11 degrees Celsius at the top of Cornicia chair). The crew was keen to try and get up higher, but the winds were ripping (75kmph up high) and the Otto and Mirador chairs were closed. We took the Cornicia chair up and traversed across past Mirador chair, to start skinning up towards the Volcan Nevados de Chillan. We skinned for about 3 hours and then enjoyed a long run down. We stayed quite far right and came to the Refugio Gargantua Del Diablo, an old hut that people sometimes stay in. I have seen it many times but not been in there before. That was pretty cool to see.
We skinned again on the 15th August, with the plan to get up even higher. The winds had calmed down slightly and the winds had dropped a little, so we headed straight to the Volcan Nevados de Chillan. This time we got all the way up to the side of it and around the backside. We ended up on top of a secondary peak. We had amazing views of the upper Andes range, into Argentina. Then we had a massive ski down, back to the Tres Marias area, coming out near the Refugio again. It was a long day with a decent amount of effort, but very rewarding. We celebrated the day with a visit to a new BBQ Steakhouse, just down the road from our accommodation. I had a massive Tomahawk steak (for science) and everyone really enjoyed the food. That will have to be an addition to our favorite local restaurant list!
Today we are taking a break from skiing and will be taking our cultural day. A much-needed storm is due to hit tonight and tomorrow, so more fresh snow to finish off this first session.
Photos from the 10th and 11th of August.......
Bob (left) and John, heading off from the Ibis Concepcion Hotel, ready to start our adventure.
Picking up the rest of the crew, Billy and Louise. CCP airport is being expanded and turned into an international airport. Great news for tourism for the region.
Motoneta 3 restaurant. Awesome place, time to get our BBQ on.....
The crew with Manuel on the left. Salut!
Lamb, beef, chicken, sausage.... we ordered way too much! But it was really good. We only had about half of it.
A little break in the storm. Time for a couple of laps to warmup the legs.
Avi training. Billy in the final stage of his rescue, bracketing.
Another awesome meal at Oliva's restaurant. Steak, Roquefort sauce, vegetables, a lo pobre (potatoes with caramelized onion and a fried egg on top).
12th August - fresh pow and bluebird. Game on! Nevados de Chillan delivers the goods.....
A little out of sequence, this shot should have been at the end. Our lines down in the Tres Marias area.
Starting the day with a little volcano fart.... welcome to Nevados de Chillan John!
Our third run of the day. Awesome skiing above the Otto chair.
Louise in deep
John with the shot of the day.
Bob finding some room
Time for Tres Marias
Dropping in at the start of a long off-piste run. This was about 7km's.
August 13th, skinning up from the Otto chair, high above the Pirigallo Valley
Volcanoes gotta vent! Bob checking to see if his marshmellows are ready....
First time skinning for a couple of the crew. Looking great team!
Louise enjoying the views of the Las Trancas Valley.
Ready to drop into our first line of the day.
Second lap. Great views of the Volcan Nevados de Chillan
The snow is settling quickly, still great skiing.
Louise enjoying some nice turns. A great day of learning and backcountry skiing.
August 14th - Skinning towards the Volcan Nevados de Chillan
Finding a nice sheltered spot out of the wind for some lunch
Skiing one of many wind-buffed faces, on the way down upper Tres Marias
The Refugio Gargantua del Diablo
Inside the Refugio, always a little disconcerting to see warnings about mice and Hanta virus....
Spot the Pugski sticker. I think that was @segbrown from last season.
Nice standalone shot of the Refugio.
Final pitch and then back into the resort. Cerveza o'clock.
August 15th - Skinning up the Volcan Nevados de Chillan and finally getting the views of the Upper Andes and Argentina
Our target, one of the lower peaks of the volcano. We skinned up through the gully and then ended up coming down to the left of the central peak.
Skinning around the backside of the volcano, with the active Volcan Nuevo in the background.
Our first views into Argentina and the higher Andes
A big day of touring deserves a big meal. Taking on a Tomahawk steak at a new steakhouse, just down the road to our accommodation. I think we'll be back! (Vegetables not pictured to preserve caveman effect of photo....)
On the 16th August we headed off the mountain for our cultural day. We drove to Chillan and then not far from there down some dirt roads, we came to the Santa Berta winery. Susannah, our lovely English-speaking host, gave us our own private tour around the production facility, the grounds and then to the tasting room where we tried several wines, accompanied by a tasty cheese platter (please keep me away from that….). Next, we headed to San Carlos to meet with chef David at his charcuterie to try some of his meats and produce. Then we had a gourmet, multi-course meal at his restaurant, Casona Violeta’s. The food was amazing and we had way too much to eat. The photos show what we had to eat. Finally, we finished off the day with a quick walk and shop at the Chillan markets. This had been another awesome cultural day and much fine food and wine had been consumed. I slept well that night.
The next day, the weather started to change and the clouds rolled in. John decided to take the day off and Billy only stayed out for a couple of runs. The winds were quite high and it was borderline snowing and raining. The Otto chair was closed down so we had to stick to the Nono t-bar. We tried some skiing in the lower Freeride Zone but the snow wasn’t so great, so I had a technique afternoon with Bob and Louise, after lunch. We started with a quick rundown of efficient ski technique and then worked on some stance/balance drills, a progression on lateral balance with some rotary work thrown in. There was some solid progression with the drills that I ran the guys though. It turned out to be a positive day after all.
On the 18th it was supposed to clear up and be a nice bluebird day with fresh snow, but the winds were still ripping. It had gotten colder overnight, but the wind had compacted a lot of the upper snow and there was a lot of new wind-loading. The sidecountry looked dicey. I took John, Bob and Louise (Billy went heli-skiing) for a lap down Tres Marias. We had to traverse across from the top of the Otto chair to the lower cat track that cuts past the Mirador chair, which is pretty easy to do. We skied the skier’s left side of the Tres Marias run and it was untouched and skiing well. In the gullies, the snow was nice and soft. We ended up skiing two really nice laps.
After lunch, it looked like the winds were starting to drop and I was thinking we might take a look at the bowls high above the Otto chair but I was still feeling very uneasy about them with all the wind-loading that was happening and I was getting that feeling that going OB would be a bad idea. Then when we got to near the top of the Otto chair, I saw that a decent-sized hard-slab avalanche had ripped from a wind-loaded pillow, near the top of Otto down into the Freeride Zone, inbounds. They had also closed access to the top of the Freeride Zone and backcountry. My Spidey-sense was right, good call. That was it for the day, we took a run down lower, away from any loaded zones and then headed to the bar for an apres-ski drink or two. Sadly, Bob had to leave that evening so I helped organize his transfer back to Concepcion.
The 19th was a bonus half-day of skiing before we had to head back to Concepcion. Billy stayed back at the accommodation so it was just Louise, John and I. It was pretty overcast and the winds were still up. The sidecountry was still a no-go, so we stayed inbounds and went trying to find some hidden pockets of snow. Everything was wind-packed but there was a few nice soft-pockets around. We found a nice little lap that had an untouched face, then a really steep face and then down onto the fast groomers. I did some situational teaching with a focus on steeps and some jump turns. We did 3 laps working on technique, with a quick break after the first lap to get rid of our backpacks.
By the third lap, the guys had really improved and were making fluid, linked-jump turns on some pretty steep pitches. Then Otto shut down so we finished with a few laps on the Nono t-bar. The snow on the groomers was really nice, so we finished with some GS turns. We were picked up at 2pm and then had 2 hours to get packed and ready to leave. Juan came for us at 4pm and we drove to Concepcion. We stopped in Chillan to say goodbye to Francisco and then headed to Lenga for some fresh seafood. We had a nice meal and then headed back to the Ibis. The crew left the next day, that was a wrap for session 1.
The Santa Berta winery, just outside of Chillan
The tasting room
Susana talking about the Cabernet Sauvignon
On to the charcuterie to meet chef David and try some meats
Deli meats, empanadas on the left, sopapilla's, plus pisco sours to drink
Main course, slow-cooked beef, sausage and potatoes and some salad
Cheers! Or salut, as they say in Chile....
David in front of his 200 year old oven, his pride and joy.
Casona Violeta, the bomb-diggety,as Billy would say.
Cute puppy shot!
- MattEleeski likes this.
Footage from the 13th August. In this clip we had hiked 25 minutes above the ski area into the sidecountry above the Pirigallo Valley. This was our second run for the day. I had to tiptoe through some rocks and then the bowl opened up infront of me, with a perfect fall-line, I could go really go for it. The snow was soft but not as deep as the day before, due to settlement in the warming temps and slightly higher wind.