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International (Europe/Japan/Southern Hemisphere) 2023 Chile Trip Report from Nevados de Chillan

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Mattadvproject

Mattadvproject

Love that powder!
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18th August - Bluebird Powder Day and Best Day of the Trip!

After a decent day of skiing on the 17th, expectations were even higher for a great day on the 18th. We'd had more precip the night before but this time, it turned to snow down in Las Trancas. That is going to mean good quality snow on the mountain, so we were keen to get up there as soon as possible. I took Andrew, Kevin and Mike and we quickly bought our tickets and headed to the Otto chair. There was a small lift line but it passed quickly. Surprisingly the lift opened on time so up we went. It looked great! The visibility was perfect and from looking at people's tracks, the powder was settled but looked much lighter. This was going to be a good day!

I wanted to go for quality, not quantity of laps and preferably ski untouched lines to really give the guys the true Nevados de Chillan experience. Patrol were at the top of the lift and they were checking beacons for anyone wanting to go through the gate and into the Freeride Zone. They will do that normally for the first couple of hours when they re-open the Otto chair. I appreciate that they do that. We were checked and then we headed straight up the quick 3-minute bootpack to the top of a big, steep, open bowl. We were the first ones there. There is a big cornice and a part of it had collapsed into the bowl. To the right there was a steep ramp but no cornice.

When the cornice had collapsed, it broke off and obviously went down the slope, but it didn't en-train any new snow with it; no slabs had been disturbed. That was a good indicator of stability in my mind. As long as we stayed away from the debris, we should have a nice run. I dropped in first and skied some big GS turns with speed, down to a knoll which would be our meeting point. Stability was solid. The rest of the guys skied the face one at a time and there was a lot of hooting and hollering from them. I think people enjoyed that first pitch.

We stayed high and headed up onto a ridge that took us back towards the resort boundary. There was another large open bowl ahead of us so with decent spacing, we dropped into that next. That was also untouched. It was a great line and the energy of the group was really high now. We had some traversing to do to get back into the resort but we moved quickly and were soon back at the Otto chair again.

It was very tempting to do another similar lap but I wanted to keep skiing untouched lines so we put the skins on and took the 40 minute skin up higher to the same area I had skinned with the previous group. That was untouched and I made sure we would get to it first. With no one on our tail, we could take our time, work on a little ski touring technique and take some nice photos. We made it to the top of the line and I scoped the terrain. You could only see down the top bowl and then there are two more nice pitches after that. My concern was the steeper, wind-loaded slope to the right so I did a ski cut and then tested the steeper slope with speed. Nothing moved. The guys then skied to the left of my tracks, one at a time. I asked them to spoon the tracks and they took me very literally, skiing a very tight series of lines spooning my tracks very tightly. Bravo!

On the next pitch, we could ski fall-line and as long as they stayed off the far right side where it was again steeper and more wind-loaded, then the turns should be nice right down the middle of the longer bowl. I did some shorter turns and then the guys skied one at a time parallel to my tracks. That was a lovely line. Then it rolled over steeper through some rock bands, so again it was one at a time and I could see and film the guys from a safer spot further down. We had a nice spread out, team-ski ski after that in the valley before making the traverse out again. We stopped into the Alto Nevados for some lunch after that.

For our final run, again it was very tempting to ski another lap in the same area, but I wanted to show the guys another side of the mountain and a new line for them in the Tres Marias area. I was confident the top would be good but it would be a little bit of a roll of the dice to get out given the general lower snow year. They were up for the adventure though so we took the Mirador chair up (more so they could see that area too) and then down to the start of the Tres Marias run. This is a mellower run but with a ton of fun features like wind-lips and natural quarter pipes to play on and it's very long at more than 14km's long.

We had a couple of nice steeper faces at the start before we hit the main ridgeline and our run proper. There were no tracks on it and the guys were still keen, so off we went. Once you are on that particular line, you are pretty much committed. If it got really bad, we could always skin out. The top was great, with some soft snow and lots of fun little hits. With mine being the only track, we could ski some longer pitches at speed with the guys following my tracks and no danger of anyone taking a wrong turn. We had a long ski down through some really fun terrain before things got more complex. The ridge we were on had a deep gorge to the left with a partially exposed creek in it and to the right, very tight brush. We had to stay on the ridge.

As long as you went slowly, you could pick a line though and miss the rocks and bushes. When it's got more snow on it, it's a really fun time, but with the added bonus of critical turns, it was a nice challenge you had to concentrate. It took some time but we made decent progress. There was just one section where we had to do a little sidestep but otherwise it was all downhill, but we took it slow. We finally made it to our exit which was a snowmobile track insight of the Refugio chairlift and then after a 3 minute herringbone up a gentle hill, we were on the track and skiing out. That bought us almost to the bottom of the groomed Tres Marias run and down to the bottom lift at Tata. That whole run had taken almost 2 hours so were pretty much done for the day. We took the lift and then the poma before heading back to the Hotel Alto Nevados for a well earned adult beverage before taking our van ride back down to Las Trancas.

I had made the claim that I thought it was probably going to be the best day of the trip and it turned out it was. The weather was about to come back in, in a major way with huge amounts of precipitation in the forecast. Unfortunately the storm was going to start off very wet and translucent snow was in the forecast before turning to snow a couple of days later. Anyway, we'll go through all of that in due course. Here's some photos from the day and later on, I have some edited footage of the day. Here we go.....

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Heading up the Otto chair for our first run

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The snow in the Freeride Zone is looking great!

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A quick 3-minute bootpack takes us to the top of our line.

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Skiing to the right of the cornice area, one at a time,

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Some big chunks of debris came down from the cornice collapse (natural, would have happened during the end of the storm), but none of the layers below had pulled out, so a pretty good sign of stability.


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Nice skiing down into the valley. Those 4 tracks our the continuation of the cornice line.

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Seal of approval!

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Dropping into a steep face as we continue our line through the Pirigallo Valley. From here, it would be a traverse out to the skier's right.

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The skins are on for the next lap. Time to go higher into the Pirigallo Valley. All three of the local volcanoes are in the shot; Nevados de Chillan on the left, then Nuevo (former active volcano) and then Viejo on the right.

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The old cross, one of the landmarks on the way.

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First part of our line after the 40 minute skin.

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Definitely some aggressive spooning going on!


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A better view of the second pitch.


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The aftermath!

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The 3rd pitch, my tracks are in the middle through the rock band.

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All four of our tracks, plenty of room so everyone had a fresh line.

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Nearing our exit. If you look closely, you can see our tracks in the upper middle of the valley,

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Tres Marias, at the end of the run where we had to do a little sideslip and then sidestep up and out a little canyon. You'll see more of this run in the edited video in the next post.

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A happy crew! It had been a fun day with great skiing and a great overview of some of what Nevados de Chillan has to offer. Boys are stoked!

Edited video from the day is coming next......

- Matt
 

New2

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I'm really enjoying these reports, and the fantastic photography--thanks for sharing!

Orange trees in full bloom!

But some day you need to take a spring skiing trip to California or Spain, and head down to low enough elevation to see what an orange blossom actually looks like ;)
 
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Mattadvproject

Mattadvproject

Love that powder!
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Granby, CO
I'm really enjoying these reports, and the fantastic photography--thanks for sharing!



But some day you need to take a spring skiing trip to California or Spain, and head down to low enough elevation to see what an orange blossom actually looks like ;)

Thank you, appreciate you following along! Thanks for the kind words.
 
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Mattadvproject

Mattadvproject

Love that powder!
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Granby, CO
Here is the edited video from that day (plus a little bonus footage from the 17th August).

Start - first run, bootpack from the Otto chair.
1:32 - second run, ski touring line.
4:01 - Tres Marias off-piste run.
5:44 - runs from the 17th August.




- Matt
 
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Mattadvproject

Mattadvproject

Love that powder!
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19th August - The weather goes crazy!

As predicted, the weather made a turn for the worse. It was forecast to rain heavily for a couple of days and then turn to snow, with a couple of meters in the forecast. It poured down during the night and was raining hard in the morning. I think the resort was going to try to open, but it would be very limited and pretty miserable up there. The ski area also said that they were going to be closed on the 20th and 21st as the storm intensified. Skiing was not looking great therefore and no one wanted to try, so it was time to get creative!

Carlos our driver was still coming at 9am and when he arrived, I said no one wanted to go skiing but could he take us for a drive. Yes, he said and we made plans to hit the coast and check out the Cobquecura area. I had been there before, there is an amazing eco-retreat overlooking the ocean that has a great restaurant. We'd head there. It was about a 2.5 hour drive to get there and on the way, we passed by many rivers that were in the early stages of flooding. There was definite concern that in the low lying areas, there could be some damage.

When we got to the coast, the seas were pretty wild. There was a lot of water on the roads and many fields were inundated with water. The Ruka Antu Eco Lodge is up on a small hill overlooking the beach and there is a nice left hand point break that is popular for surfing. It was pretty rough out there, a bit too wild for a surf. The Eco Lodge had expanded since I was last there, adding another restaurant. We had a big table and ordered several courses. I had a nice empanada and then some lamb, plus a couple of beers. It was a nice late lunch.

After lunch, we jumped back in the van and headed north on the coast road. It was a pretty drive, with some quaint little villages and very green looking pastures, plus a few gushing waterfalls. There was a beach with a big rock that Manuel, our Chilean guide recommended we go to. There, there are sea lions basking on the rocks. We got some nice pictures and then drove a little more, before heading back.

When we got back to the accommodation, it was around 8pm. I had been getting a little itchy during the drive and when I got back to my room, discovered that my entire body was covered in huge welts and hives. This wasn't good. I appeared to be having a severe reaction to something. I thought maybe it was the washing powder (I had just had some washing done) but that was the same washing powder I had used before without any reaction.

I didn't remember eating anything out of the ordinary in the past few days but then I remembered I had had some crab a while ago, during the last session. That was the only thing different that I had eaten. I told Francisco, the owner of the accommodation and he asked for some photos so he could send them to his mum who had been a nurse. She immediately got back to him and said I should go to the emergency ward of the hospital as I was having a severe allergic reaction and it could get worse. Ruh roh! So Francisco very kindly took me in his 4wd back to Chillan (about an hour drive) in the pouring rain (it was an atrocious drive) but we made it safely to the hospital.

It was the private hospital so I had to pay up front (cost was about $140 USD for examination and treatment) and the doctor asked me what I had eaten. I mentioned the crab from a while ago and he said that was probably it. Chilean crab is particularly potent apparently. The doctor was concerned that if the reaction worsened, then it could get into my airways and then I could have anaphylaxis, so they gave me a massive injection of hydrocortisone, plus a prescription for some other medicines and then sent me on my way. We got back around 1am and I was pretty wiped. The injection kicked my butt but they said in about 2 days, I should be doing a lot better.

When I woke up in the morning, the hives were really reduced. I was pretty tired so I took a down day. Manuel took the group and did some activities. I slept most of the day. I figured out what had happened though. During the previous session, I had picked up a cold that blocked my sinuses. I had some Benadryl and was taking that so I could breathe better. I think the Benadryl had been keeping away the hives. I had had a couple of itchy spots but they cleared up as the Benadryl was still working. After my cold started to clear up, I stopped taking the Benadryl and that's when the hives went crazy. It happened so quickly and within the space of the day, the Benadryl was completely done and the hives took over. So it was a good thing that I went to the hospital and a massive thanks must got to Francisco and his mum for looking out for me.

By that evening, the hives were pretty much gone and I was feeling a lot better. Unfortunately the ski area was still closed so I had to plan another cultural day.....


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Stormy views of the beach from the Roka Antu Eco Lodge

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A nice day to be inside!

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Manuel with a little pisco sour

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Empanada and salsa

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Lamb for lunch

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At least we weren't going to starve!

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The sea lion colony to the north of Copquecura

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They didn't seem to mind the weather!

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Making the most of the day!

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Yep, not looking so good!

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Time to go to the hospital, me thinks!


- Matt

 

Jenny

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I developed full body hives in Ireland - chin to toes, everywhere! Best we could figure is it was a reaction to something inside a cairn we'd crawled in from the prior day. They're miserable! Thankfully the Zyrtec and extra strength cortisone cream from the pharmacy took care of them, no doc/hospital visit needed.
 
Thread Starter
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Mattadvproject

Mattadvproject

Love that powder!
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I developed full body hives in Ireland - chin to toes, everywhere! Best we could figure is it was a reaction to something inside a cairn we'd crawled in from the prior day. They're miserable! Thankfully the Zyrtec and extra strength cortisone cream from the pharmacy took care of them, no doc/hospital visit needed.
Yikes! Sorry to hear that, glad you were able to manage it without it getting too serious!
 
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Mattadvproject

Mattadvproject

Love that powder!
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21st August - More bad weather so more cultural activities!

I was laid up on the 20th as I was pretty wiped after not getting back from the hospital till well after 1am so Manuel looked after the group. On the 21st, the mountain was still shut so I was able to move the proper cultural day (which was originally scheduled for the day of departure for the trip) to the 21st. We had a driver come pick us up in the morning and they drove us back to Chillan. It was raining hard and had been for about the last 3 days.

Some of the smaller rivers were running really high and then as we got down to Chillan, the bigger rivers were starting to flood their banks. Sadly, we could already see some houses were partially submerged. We were all very sorry to see that and it made for a sombre mood. I didn't photograph any of the homes out of respect.

Our first stop was at the lovely Santa Berta Winery. We had to go the long way round as normal the shortcut was down by the river and the road was closed. Susana was there to meet us and show us around the grounds with her usual informative talk. We started in the wine production area inside a large shed filled with massive vats and then the outdoor grape crushing machines. Then a look around the gardens and the chapel before the main event, tasting in the tasting hall. I always enjoy that part!

We enjoyed several whites, reds and a sparkling wine to finish plus a nice cheese and nibbles plate. After a quick visit to the wine shop to purchase a few bottles, we hit the road again to head to San Carlos for our late lunch. Unfortunately the traffic on the freeway was at an absolute stand-still and we were barely creeping along. Unfortunately there was no other way around due to the floods. What would normally take around 20 minutes took us about 2 hours, it was brutal.

We were a couple of hours late, but finally we made it. This was the restaurant owned by a friend that we used to go to on our cultural days. The owner, David had leased the restaurant out the past couple of years and was focusing on running his family's flour mill in town. We had organized with the new manager to serve similar food to our experiences in the past and they did not disappoint, with several courses (empanadas, sopapillas, bbq and desert) plus drinks. The freshly squeezed raspberry juice was a highlight for me. It was awesome!

Then unbeknownst to me, David paid a surprise visit. That was a lovely touch and it was really nice to see him. It had been 3 years since I last saw him so it was nice to catch up. He gave the group a warm welcome and took time to talk about the restaurant, it's history and the history of the local area. I think everyone appreciated that. Due to our long delay on the freeway, it was getting late and we were unable to go to the markets in Chillan on the way back.

It continued to rain heavily on the way back but as we got close to Las Trancas, it turned to snow and it was dumping! So much so, the road was getting inundated with snow and the driver had to put on chains to get up the switchbacks below Las Trancas. We made it back safely and we were all pretty tired after a big day. With snow down in Las Trancas, that should make for a lot of snow up on the mountain. Goodness knows they would need it after all of the rain!

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The Rio Nuble in full-flood....


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Normally we drive under that yellow bridge to get to the winery but not this day.


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Horses grazing at the winery


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These carriages are used for weddings in the summertime


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The crew!


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Winter blossoms


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Exploring the chapel


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Bill and Rebecca infront of the Santa Berta seal


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The tasting room


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Andrew, ready to go to work!


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David (top right) giving us the history of the local area and his restaurant. Manuel is doing the translation for the group (in the blue hat).


Finally, skiing would be on the cards for the next day!

- Matt
 

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