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Portillo Trip Report
Portillo is reporting the deepest resort base depth in the Andes. As of mid June, over 250 cm of snow has fallen on Portillo's slopes. This has allowed the resort to open 100% of its terrain. Fortunately I was there for Wednesday's season's opening of Roca Jac, Portillo's steepest lift-serviced terrain. With 65 cm of fresh snow last weekend, the powder was amazing.
 
 

 
  byBrian Passikoff, June 18, 2003

I arrived on Tuesday for a short but sweet two days of riding. My lodging was at the basic but comfortable Inca Lodge. At Portillo all lodging is slopeside, and that makes for very convenient access to the mountain. The weather for my two days was not perfect, as it remained cloudy. Fortunately winds were calm, and temperatures were moderate.

My first runs on Tuesday were under the Plateau lift. The grooming here was phenomenal. With the white light, visiblity could have been better. However, the grooming was so good, I felt confident letting my board rip some high-speed cruisers.

The powder under the Condor slingshot lift was ok. Having had been open to skiers and riders for the past five days, the snow was tracked. Nevertheless I had a good time on the steeps of the La Garganta chute.

The cruisers under the Juncalillo lift were fun. The grooming was nearly as good at the Plateau area. However, the Juncalillo run is the longest on the mountain, and its terrain is diverse with several turns and dips. An added bonus is the ride back up, as you cross the international highway several times, and you get to wave to the distracted truck drivers.

My real bliss came with the opening of Roca Jac on Wednesday morning. The powder was untouched, and I made run after run of fresh tracks. My only company was a half dozen snowboarders and a couple of skiers. By the afternoon, it was just three of us. The chute to the rider's right of Roca Jac is especially gnarly. Several of the snowboarders were catching some big air off of the rocks before a soft landing in the powder.

The Inca Lodge was a great deal. Though I just stayed for the night, for most of the season, you can stay a full week for US$420, including lift ticket, meals and lodging. This past week the Inca Lodge hosted guests from at least four different continents. Lodging is bunk-dormitory style, but guests have access to all the hotel amenities including the pool and gym.

While Portillo has terrain for all ability levels, the steeps rank among the best in South America. I will definitely be back!

[June 2003 Photos]

 



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