So…For my 21st birthday, I decided to go to Chile to Ski Portillo, a resort two hours South of the capital Santiago in the Andes……WOW!
This was the trip of my life. I know Jordan was the coolest trip in my life, in April, however this was on the same magnitude of awesome but I was skiing! Automatic win…but the trips were very similar if you can believe that. International travel is always something I have loved and I will continue in the future. Visiting different cultures and locations can open your eyes to how the rest of the world lives. This has changed how I have lived my life seeing how people get by with next to nothing, yet they are still happy. The time I spent in Chile was expensive for a broke college student like me, but for anyone with a job, this trip is very affordable with the right planning on flights. My friend spent $1300 for eight days of skiing, lodging, food, and flights. Not a bad price if you plan correctly and get the cheapest flight 9-10 months ahead of time.
I showed up to the resort with not a cloud in sight, skies blue as the lake that backed up to the hotel. The resort owns the only hotel and it is ski-in ski-out with a ski valet. However if you do not want to pay full price for the hotel, you can stay in either the Octagon, or stay in the Bunkhouse and eat in the cafeteria. I stayed in the bunkhouse and that is what I recommend, even if you can afford something more. The good vibes in the bunkhouse were one of my favorite parts of Chile. Being in such close quarters with 45 other people in the bunkhouse and cafeteria and sharing a community bathroom for a week gets you to know each other more than having individual hotel rooms and separate dining tables.
The skiing was great in my opinion. We didn’t get that much snow while I was there, but the base was sufficient to ski everything that was skiable at the resort. With only minimal lift and surface lift service, the best way to find the good skiing was to traverse once you made your way up to the top. The chutes were untouched because none of the locals like to ski steep stuff. Each night the wind would blow in a new inch or two of dust on crust for me to blast away from each chute one by one.
Meeting so many different friends while I was there was by far the best part. My coach Jake Sakson is the best telemark skier on the planet currently. I met three other separate groups of Americans including Nick, Cam, Andrew, Tele Ted, the Stanford boys, two Chilean families who took me in as their own, and the Brazilian ski team members Andre Athie and Eliza Nobre.
The Brazilians brought me to their A-frame chalet where we started drinking RB+V at 10am after skiing a couple runs. We then proceeded to the mountain-top bar Tio Bob’s and had lunch with more RB+V. Then, Andre and Eliza, along with our friend Carlos, called the helicopter pilot to come pick us up, from the top of the mountain…and take us to the base. I kept skiing after this, but riding in a helicopter for the first time was a unique experience that I plan on doing more.
I loved my time in the Andes. Ski Portillo will always have a place in my heart, and I’m sure they will remember me for a while to come, Gringo Loco. I was the craziest American at the hotel for this week of skiing and I made friends with all of the hotel staff and guests that were there for the week. Thanks to anyone who contributed to my time in Chile it was the best 21st birthday I could have imagined.