I am getting to spend a heck of a lot of time in Chile lately, as in the last few months. A great bonus is that it is winter here right now. Since the Andes are LITERALLY right there, mountains + winter = skiing!
I hadn’t skied in like 7 yrs when ski season started here. Ski resorts are within an hour, hour and a half from Santiago so I definitely had envisioned trekking up to the slopes and checking the Andes ski scene out…
By now, I have made a couple of day trips up to what some say is the best of the ski slopes around here, close to Santiago. I am not sure it is the true but it does not matter to me. The point was I was going to ski! The place is Valle Nevado.
Driving up there involves first a set of 39 sharp curves, each numbered as you pass them but also with many curves that are unnumbered… I wonder if that is a ploy to keep the number of signs needing posting down or to not scare travelers with a much higher number of curves… Anyway, after that initial set, you drive a little bit on semi-flat terrain before you hit another set of curves, not as bad as the first set. The landscape in this second part is amazing. I must say that somewhere in the first set of curves you can look back towards Santiago and see part of the city – the Marriott hotel almost being the only recognizable thing as it is a tall orange rectangle!
I have to say getting going on skiing again was a little scary at first. I had to find those legs! After a couple of practice runs on greens, I finally made it to blues. There was something different in the slopes and I can’t quite put my finger on it. But, it was a phenomenal day to be at Valle Nevado with fresh snow from the day before – viva Chile, mierda!
The second trip to Valle Nevado was 4 weeks later – this past Saturday. There had not been a lot of snowfall plus some of the snow had begun to melt. So conditions were far from perfect. Yet, it was fun and I was much more comfortable with my legs than the first time. After one green run, my fellow skiers convinced me to try a red – so I went for it. Reds are between a blue and a black for medium skilled or expert skiers. After doing my first one (Diablada), I felt flattered. I was at least a medium skilled skier! We did that slope again and then we went for a longer red run called Sol. I love it! I did well not only going down steeper slopes but also on speed. Now, they tended to have wide runs which made me more comfortable taking the risk. Later in the day, I went down a run named Polka which on the map seemed easy for a blue. One segment of it seemed like it must have been a black as it was not only sloped downward but sideways too and it was quite narrow. I had to slide down 🙁
All in all, not only was I pretty damn happy about having moved up to reds and feeling comfortable with them but I also got to skip burning up in the summer from heck Atlanta has had!! Next up: Vail in 4 months?!
Anyone out there who has visited Valle Nevado and other Chilean ski slopes? If so, would love to hear how VN compares to other places in Chile.