El Colorado and Santa Teresa
After two days at La Parva, We headed to it’s neighbor resort, El Colorado. The resort was similar in that the mountain was wide open, had lots of rocks, and a lift layout that was a bit crazy and hard to navigate. That said, it was a bluebird day after it had snowed about 20 cm.
Everybody rushed to get ready and head up to the mountain. It was a short 5 minute drive up to the base of El Colorado where we got onto our first lift of the day. There were two chair lifts we had to take to get up, then we had to traverse, and then take a poma(surface) lift before we were able to ski the zone that the guides wanted to take us to.
Once we got to this zone, it was some fun, lift access, boot top powder! We did three or four runs here and while skiing this zone, I was talking to Allison about how this lift setup would never happen in the United States. First of all, all of the poma lifts in Chile were not roped off, they didn’t have a fence around them, and skiers would ski in between the people riding up the lift! This lift started right next to the middle of another poma and goes about 45 degrees to the left from the other one.
Along with that, there were three or four different ski runs that converged at this junction. Needless to say, we saw multiple collisions between people skiing out of control and the people on the lift.
The most extreme case was a snowboarder flying down the hill and colliding with two kids on the poma lift. One of the kids ended up breaking his arm in this accident.
While this was dangerous and you had to be on the lookout for people, it was oddly satisfying to see something not be so restricted and controlled by the resort because of the fear of legal issues.
After all of the fresh snow was tracked out in the resort, a couple of us from the group along with two of our guides decided to head out of bounds. Santa Teresa was a shot off of the back of the resort that went all the way down to the winding road that would take you to another ski resort. It was about a 2,500 foot descent of untouched powder.
All we had to do to access it was traverse a little while from the resort and then side step up for a minute or two! That said, on the traverse, there was a small rollover that I came over and BAM! I came straight down on a sharp rock which grabbed my right ski and sent me into an unwanted somersault. Luckily, I landed on my Back Country Access Stash 20 pack so it didn’t hurt me but my brand new DPS Tour1 Lotus 124 ski came home with some damage. Once we were at the top, we were looking down at a steep, fresh, incredible looking slope that was just waiting to be skied.
This was such an incredible, wide open shot and the snow was so light and fun. When skiing in the resort, I was hitting the crust that was below the fresh snow but on Santa Teresa, it was much steeper and I rarely hit bottom. We were skiing powder in July!
Once we got to the bottom, it was a bit of a disaster to drive back to the resort. It was a two lane road through the mountains, after a storm.
Now, in the United States, people pull over to the side to put chains on but in Chile, they would just stop in the middle of the road and make everybody behind them wait. On top of that, it was the Saturday before their school holiday ended so there were so many people parked on the side of the road, sledding and barbecuing. These two combined to make a disaster of the roads. There were busses, vans, and cars scattered all over the road pointing every which direction, putting chains on, weaving between stopped cars, sliding into the ditch, and causing some crazy traffic that made our 10 minute drive take an hour. Even though the traffic was awful, we couldn’t only ski that run once so we went for another before lunch.
Photographer, Keoki Flagg, took full advantage of the fresh snow and the blue bird day and took some amazing photos. Go ahead and check out his Gallery as well!
Check out the rest of our Chilean adventure by clicking HERE