The weather report, again, was suggesting that snow might be falling in Chillan so up the road we went. Once again we started up the long and winding road that led towards the resort and as darkness fell, so did the snow. Hooray! It was falling quite thickly too! This was absolutely unprecedented – at least in our experience. So it was with a real sense of excitement that we approached the ascent, at last we have our moment… Now, some of you might have had experience driving in heavy snow up a hill. For those of you that don’t, there needs to be a ratio of speed:incline. Of course you don’t want to be going too fast, particularly around hairpin bends, but if you go too slowly then eventually you will stop. We hadn’t quite judged the speed correctly, as it happened.
But it did mean that we did get to put the snow chains on for the first and only time – a bit like an insurance policy, you never really want to have to use them, but you are really happy you spent the money when you do. So we successfully managed to camp yet again in the very plush hotel’s car park – I did wonder what the staff made of it, having van hobos repeatedly visiting, but they left us alone which was all that mattered.
The next day we thought we would beat the system and for once got up early and were skinning up the ski resort slope before the lifts opened – we were being shouted and gesticulated at by pisteurs from down below, but there was no way they could catch us now… So we smugly skinned on until a pistie descended from above us – dammit! We were politely informed that they were going to be bombing as the avalanche risk was high and it wasn’t advisable to be on the slopes. To be fair, this sounded quite reasonable so we headed back down – a few fresh tracks at least! By this time it was blowing a hooley so it seemed a better course of action on several counts.
However, hanging around in the car park/home as we sorted ourselves out and stuffed our faces with undeserved kuchen, there was no evidence of any detonations – those bastards were telling porky pies. The ski touring fun police had struck again… Not to give up too easily, we tried a final option and decided to get to Gargantua del Diablo hut from the lower resort entrance, which appeared to be a public right of way so despite having to cross the lfts and piste I don’t think they have a right to stop you, and they didn’t!
Great at last free! Although quite a long skin up a track until you get to the rolling terrain above, at least there were lots of possibilities for safe skiing on low angle and not heavily loaded slopes. The hut was fairly easily found and was a pretty spooky looking place from a distance even more so from within!
We explored the hut a bit, which was clearly quite often used and gave great access to lots of varied terrain. We had some lunch then went to find some fun lines to ski. We had a bit of a play then headed back to the valley, Tom found his skis somewhat in need of a wax having to straight line as much as possible on the way down to carry over the flat and low angled bits. Meanwhile Barbara had some nice turns even if the snow was a bit heavy.
It was back to the van for hot chocolate and cake, then a trip down the valley to get some internet to check the forecast, oddly enough it was crap! So we settled down for the night to see what the next day would actually bring… The answer: not great weather, so we went for a coffee in the hostel to decide what to do. Sitting having our coffee Tom overheard a chap talking on the phone about a person who could only be Lou Dawson of Wild Snow fame… He had to ask, Indeed Lou was staying at the hostel having been on a test of the Marker Kingpin binding. So we got to meet the man himself and have lunch with him. He’s quite a dude and makes a pretty good living out of his blog. We all concluded it wasn’t worth hanging around Chillan so we all headed our own way. Sadly for us that meant back to Santiago to try and sell Steve before leaving South America, sad times….. We still didn’t have a buyer for him, so also worrying times!