Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Skiing in Chile Part III - Bad Things Happen in Threes!

Days 2-5 - August 8-12, 2013

So in my last post on our trip skiing in Chile in August, we had just arrived at our cabin the night before and were on way up to the ski area.

Well some things have changed in the last 10 years since we have been to Nevados de Chillan. First off, the name has changed, it used to be Termas de Chillan or as we called it, Termas de Chaos. One thing that hasn't changed is the chain gang where the road goes from paved to dirt. Even if there is just one inch of snow on the road, the Chileans throw on snow chains. We have the 4Runner, so we just kept driving past the Carabineros (national police).

The next thing that changed was a new hotel at the base of the mountain.

Followed by a fee to park now? $7 for the day? Why? Well you see, most Chileans cannot afford to ski. But rather than sit at home and watch TV, they are very outdoorsy folks. They all come up to hang out in the snow and slide around on their sleds or even a plastic bag. They also just throw up a parilla too (BBQ).

Well I guess in order to keep the non skiers from parking in their lots, they had to start charging to park. I guess this did not go over too well with the locals.

So we begin to put our ski stuff on in the parking lot and I notice that I forgot my gloves back at the cabin. Up to the ski shop and fork over $45 for a pair of gloves. Bag thing #1.

We then got our half day lift tickets. It was $40 for a half day but they charge you $6 for the actual lift ticket as it goes in your pocket and lets the turnstile go. So there was some confusion there.....

Finally the time has come to get on the lift. The Otto chair which goes to the summit is still as slow as it was 10 years ago. After a 35 minute ride (the lift stopped for 10 minutes when we were 2/3rds the way up).

Fun right! You bet it was fun getting some turns again after not skiing for over a year! The summit of the lift is 7872 ft and we skiing the longest run in South America all the way to the base area at 5000 feet! That with about 4-5 inches of powder and about 30 cars in the lot, it was a perfect day! We also noticed the Chileans have taken on skiing, when we were there 10 years ago the had really outdated equipment and never went off the groomers, well in 10 years that has really changed! 

As we embarked on our 3rd run, Shannon who has not so great knees and has been working on those knees with therapy in preparation for this trip was taking it easy and not skiing in the powder, which means she was not skiing right behind me. She went ahead of me on the groomers and I came upon her.....

Bad Thing #2

Shannon caught her edge and tried to stop herself from falling by putting her pole out in front of her. Well she was lying there in pain as she said her arm hurt. I asked her if she wanted me to get ski patrol and she said no she would ski down. Well, I thought there would be a ski patrol room at the bottom base as that is where most of their beginner areas were.  I was wrong! Ski Patrol was there and they were going to bring her up to the ski patrol room up by our parking lot on a snowmobile, but she was in too much pain, so instead they sent the ambulance. Shannon rode in the passenger seat in the front and they stuck me in the back with the stretcher with the skis. 

We got her up to the patrol room and the two EMT's in there took a look at her shoulder, it was dislocated! She would have to go to the hospital in Chillean an hour and a half away. 

I went down to the lower parking lot to get the 4Runner and as I was walking up to it I saw this:

Bad Thing #3

I thought my wallet, Shannon's wallet and my IPad would be gone! But no, they were not gone! Some relief. Looking at the mark on the frame of the glass it appears that someone maybe hit the window with their skis? Oh well, who cares, let's get Shannon to the Hospital. And Shannon was wondering where I had gone, well sorry dear, I was emptying out the glass in my shoes....

We got to the Hospital and went to the emergency room and all they asked for was her passport and nothing else? Within 15 minutes she was in her own room! They got here going on an IV with painkillers. X-rays showed dislocated shoulder. The Dr said he could pop it back in, but this took forever to figure out as no one spoke English (I know 3rd grade Spanish but not medical terms, si ella este infirmaste). 

They popped her shoulder back in. Another set of X-Rays, a sling for her arm and we are out at 10PM, ready for our cold ride back to the cabin. The bill for all this was only $530. How much you think this would cost in the USA?

The next day was going to figure out what to do with the 4Runner? Stuart our host at the cabins called the Toyota dealer in Chillan and they gave a quote of $990 and they may get it in a few days. Next idea was to go to the nearest Econorent office which was in Concepcion, Chile's second largest city and on the coast. It was a 2.5 hour drive. Off we went! 

We got near the airport and needed gas so we ventured into the busy and chaotic city and never found one gas station, screw it, back the airport. I was not a big fan of Concepcion. They did have another 4Runner to exchange out but how this was all going to work out was so confusing as again no one really spoke English. We were moving out our stuff from one to the other and the representative asked if we wanted this:

This hook was behind the passenger seat! It also matched that mark! And this was no accident as you can see the canvass was cut. Yes, someone had done this on purpose! But why? Well first off they had an Econorent sticker in the lower corner there (that sticker came off on the next 4Runner) so they new we were probably tourists? Maybe they were mad about the pay for parking so to get us to complain to management they did this? Who knows why....I do know I am still hashing out the cost with Econorent with this as they charged me $200 more without even a receipt or an explanation of the charges. I have tried several times with them to no avail, let American Express handle it! 

Back another 2.5 hours to the cabin and time to make a Chilean Parilla of pork! 

Since Shannon still was sore and didn't want to ski, the next we decided to go to the hot springs pool near the resort at Valley Hermosa. These are hot spring fed pools. We got there around 3 PM and the place was packed! 

We made it through the throngs of buses and people to the hot pools. They certainly smelled of sulfur. When we got in, we were surprised to find black mud on the bottom. Some were putting this mud on their faces. Within 15 minutes we were approached by 2 Chilean professors who taught English. It was fun! But that mud, it stained out bathing suits and towels and was in every nook and cranny on our bodies! It was lightly snow/raining on us too!

Back to the cabin to shower. We were going out to dinner tonight with Stuart and his wife to a Argentinian place that had homemade pastas! Again the story of Chile and no heat, well at this restaurant, which I cannot remember the name, had the 2-3 logs on the fire. Stuart's wife came with ski pants and a parka on! What is more funny is we ordered a bottle of red wine, and the waitress asked if we wanted it in the fireplace first! Dinner was pretty good and we enjoyed hanging out with our hosts!

It is now Sunday and it has been raining non-stop. Shannon wanted to try to ski with one arm! I let her borrow my North Face down coat. We got up to the resort and they were only open to mid station due to visibility. It was also lightly raining. Why not go right? I hadn't skied in the rain since I lived on the East Coast! It wasn't the best day, at least when got up to mid station it had turned into Sierra cement.

There was NO ONE here, oh but the Chilean Army! Yes they were skiing, well should I say trying to ski in their uniforms? Why? I suspect they are preparing an invasion from the East, hostile Argentina? The way the skied, I would wonder how well they would be able to defend themselves?

We stopped into Customer Service after skiing to talk to the one gal who helped Shannon out with her shoulder in the first aid room. She agreed with us about the window, was vandalism. She did however buy us a drink and comped our lift tickets for the next day!

For dinner, Pizza at Chillin'

Monday - Our last day skiing

It had been raining for the last two days, but today we were in for a treat with 8 inches of new powder!

 Hot Springs that come out of the Mtn side! 

What a great day to end our time at Nevados de Chillan!

Now off to wine country!


  1. Despite the 3 really bad things, sounds and looks like you both had a wonderful time. Love your descriptions of things!

  2. Seems like you kept a good attitude during all the problems but that powder and lack of crowds would have been awesome.

  3. At least Shannon's knee was fine! Gorgeous photos!


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