Colorado Skier Travels to Ski Portillo for Summer Skiing
In July of 2015, Colorado-based writer Jason Blevins started stuffing base layers, down jackets, beanies and ski boots into luggage. Odds are he went to Denver International Airport in shorts and flip flops, schlepping his winter gear on his back. He was headed south of the equator to Ski Portillo in Chile, swapping summer for winter. And, he wrote about the experience for The Denver Post.
If you’ve ever dreamt of a summertime ski adventure in the Andes and considered ditching the northern hemisphere summer for a week-long trip to Ski Portillo, Jason Blevins’s Portillo experience in recapped in The Denver Post is a must-read!
Here are a few excerpts of what Blevins had to say about Ski Portillo:
When the July mercury climbs close to 100, the minds of skiers inevitably turn toward last season’s missed opportunities. That time you quit after only one backcountry lap. The weekend to Silverton you skipped. Those dawn patrols you slept through.
Come July, those mindless moments of indifference become punishable offenses.
But you can find redemption down south, where the high alpine in Argentina and Chile just got hammered with a huge storm that kicked off what promises to be a deep season in the Andes….
There are several ski areas in the Andes, but the venerable Portillo is like the Aspen of the lot. Unreal views, exposed steeps and a historic luxury hotel push the Portillo experience to a higher level.
As South America’s oldest resort, Portillo echoes with history. The walls of Hotel Portillo’s halls are framed with hundreds of black and white pictures, many dating back to those first leather booted turns in the early 1950s. A stroll around the hotel is a history lesson in South American skiing….
While the Hotel Portillo is a gem, the alpine terrain is the main attraction at this quiet outpost near a heavily trafficked pass that connects Chile with Argentina. The ski area’s 1,200 acres feature plenty of steeps and dicey traverses accessing powder filled bowls that draw hordes of ski jonesing gringos every summer. The area’s 14 chairlifts include slingshot platters that zip as many as five skiers at a time up the steepest terrain. The ridiculously rowdy ride itself is thrilling. Exiting the dangling platters on near vertical ice is an exercise in adrenaline management….
While each week’s stay includes four meals a day, many guests gather at Tio Bob’s for lunches that too easily turn into a three bottle or more afternoon. Overlooking the Lake of the Incas easily one of the best vistas in skiing Tio Bob’s is a must taste tradition for Portillo visitors.
The hotel is a respite from the bustling, ubiquitous ski villages way north, because there is no village. Portillo really is a cruise ship, moored at 9,450 feet in the world’s longest mountain range…. Really, each week at Portillo is a homecoming of sorts, as the same guests seem to return at the same time, creating a family reunion feel….
Dinners are served community style, with large tables further encouraging a blending of guests dressed in their Sunday best, lending a formal air to the evening supper. Movies in the theater and a basement gymnasium keep the kids entertained while grown ups labor to tint their teeth Malbec red at the hotel’s bar and discotheque.
Oh, if the walls could talk in those speakeasies. Live bands in the piano bar rattle the hotel lobby after dinner while hotel guests pre game for the late night shenanigans in the basement disco. Ladies dancing on tables is a nightly occurrence in the piano bar, a primer for the all night boogie down in the disco. It’s what creates comedy later, during the Saturday shift change at Portillo thigh ravaged, bleary eyed, goggle tanned guests are replaced with fresh faced newcomers eager to sport that same grinning wobble a week later.
CLICK HERE to read “Finding Ski Redemption in Portillo, Chile” in its entirety by Jason Blevins for The Denver Post.