Chillin in Chillan
by, Grant Gary
“It hasn’t snowed here in 20 days” a 10 year old girl told me on the chairlift. Her tone of voice suggested something more sinister, as if she had just discovered that Santa Claus didnt exist. I’m in the mountain town of Las Trancas 8km away from the ski area Nevados de Chillan (pronounced Chee-On) and I’m happy to report that its finally bombing snow after one of the driest winters in recent memory. I don’t know how long it’s going to last but it’s already a vast improvement over when I arrived.
To get here I waited 7 hours in the Santiago central train station where I almost got robbed, 5 hours on a train where I was forced to read Harry Potter and another 2 hours on a bus next to some fat lady. When I stepped off the bus in the center of town ( I use that word lightly because its a block long and is probably what Telluride looked like 100 years ago) there was more mud than snow. I didnt care though, I felt as if I had reached the end of the world. At the end of the world you hitch hike to the mountain every morning, you meet everyone in town within three days, and you feel like you’re part of a family more than part of a ski town. I spend most nights at a small pizza place cum bar called Palo Huacho which is run by a bunch of American expats. Its super chill and people party there every night til 5 in the morning. They call that ‘Chilean Style’.
Oh yeah and as for the skiing; This mountain is unparalleled. The wind plastered the mountain with wet snow two days ago transforming it into something straight out of Alaska. There’s cliffs, chutes, couloirs, and steeps that approach sixty degrees. There are windlips and cornices to hit everywhere. This mountain is so much fun I’m almost tempted to avoid talking about the backcountry, which is endless. There are two volcanoes within a few hour hike and there are huge lines to be skiied just by traversing into the side country. Everything here is so big and aesthetic its hard to put into words so a few pictures will have to suffice for the time being.
I’m heading into the backcountry with a local guy named Mattias in a couple of days. Ill report back on some epicness…