September 15, 2013


Portillo, Chile, is it on every skier's list of places to go? Skiing summer powder is one attraction, rubbing shoulders with the US ski team on the va et vient lift contraption is another.

With only a single tower at the bottom and cables anchored at the top, the avalanche-resistant Vient yanks as many as five-abreast skiers up a steep snow-covered scree slope. Experiencing the vient in itself is reason enough to come to Portillo, but riding up elbow-to-elbow, shoulder-to-shoulder, and ski-to-ski with Julia Mancuso or Lindsay Vonn is just over the top. Watching the womens' teams train and enjoying the Andean sun at the Portillo hot tub is cool, but the skier comes to Portillo to ski.

Skiing Portillo has options for side-country skin-up or boot-pack, groomers and chutes from line-free lifts, and heli-skiing. Spectacular ski touring from the base is available when Laguna del Inca is frozen. Portillo out-of-bounds skiing, like most places, has substantial avalanche potential and, with more than 3000-feet of mountains above the lifts, it has some of the greatest overhead avalanche risk that I have experienced.
September 7, 2013
Hotel Portillo is situated on Laguna del Inca, a spectacular lake in the middle of the Andes near the Chile-Argentina border. Most Portillo visitors overnight at the on-mountain lodging. Day-trips from Los Andes are feasible, but the 3-lane (with only two lanes marked) Trans-Andean highway switchbacks can be tiresome for day-trippers. We enjoyed the Portillo Experience from a cabana within a 2-minute walk of the hotel.  The hotel restaurant has incredible service by a large staff who cater to the guests every whim.

From the extraordinary service to the spectacular skiing, Portillo is a terrific experience every skier should enjoy.
El Plateau, Portillo Patrol Hut
Portillo Sidecountry (Youtube Link)
Portillo Sidecountry with La Parva (el 15800-ft) Background
Powder in the South-Facing Shade
Lake Run Return
El Plateau Chair
Cabana View Up
La Cabana
From Cabana Deck

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