Powder in Portillo, Chile

Ingrid Backstrom, Mike Douglas, Wendy Fisher, Chris Anthony, and Co. in Portillo for Ski Camp

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Words and Photos: Johnny Stifter

After a waiting out a weather day in Chile’s capitol city, Santiago, we winded our way through Los Andes towards the renowned South American resort of Portillo. Powder Senior Photographer Adam Clark and I are down here to shadow Chris Davenport’s sixth annual Ski With The Superstars Camp. And, of course, we plan on making a few “enjoyable” summer turns of our own.

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Portillo, located about two hours southwest of Santiago, received up to three feet of snow on Saturday, August 14, convincing the uber-resttless Davenport to assert that it was ” the best day here in my nine years skiing Portillo.” Before even hearing that proclamation from Dav, Adam and I knew we might be able to score a run or two before the 5 p.m. lift close despite the slow and dense mountain pass traffic.

After weaving through the suburbs of Santiago, passing vineyards amidst high-alpine flora and a bunch of super friendly Chileans, we entered the massive Andes. Mirroring the narrow valleys of the European Alps, the mountain pass road to Portillo acts as one of two Andean highways that accesses Argentina. Eventually, we made it to Portillo in time to possibly ski one run. We sprinted from the bus, grabbed our bags, and threw our ski clothes and boots on in a random hallway. Despite feeling awkward jamming my feet into ski boots in August, our six-year-old anticipation overwhelmed all senses.

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Adam skied down to the one running lift at 4:58 p.m. and this exchange followed:

“No mas,” said the Chilean liftie, noticing that we obviously wanted one ride up.
“Uno mas, por favor,” replied the Salt Lake City-based Clark.
“Okay,” said the smiling liftie.
In pure uninhibited jubilation, we skied one sweet  run at 5:00 p.m., even scoring a couple of cold, smoky face shots. It feels right being back in the mountains and reminding your senses–both physical and psychological–the power of one friggin’ turn.

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More snow is forecast, which is needed since the three feet covered a relatively low-tide snowpack. Adam and I’ll plan on reporting daily from Dav’s camp in addition to a quick jaunt to Las Lenas, Argentina. Stay tuned for more updates and photos. Hasta Luego in Portillo…

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Anthony, Dav, Wendy Fisher, and Ingrid

Douglas, Anthony, Dav, Wendy Fisher, and Ingrid