Let me start this story in the Toronto customs area. I am currently being interrogated by a nice young lady that clearly thinks I am doing something or bringing something very bad back into the Canada. Conversation goes something like this.
The woman looking inside my ski bag asks, “Do you have a sharp objects or weapons in here?”
Me “Ahhh….yes, poles, probe, a snow saw.”
“A saw, how big, what do you need a saw for?”
“Ummm….ahhhh….probably like a 12 inches, and you kinda of use it like for…ummm….ahhh…avalanche stuff!” How can I possible explain what digging a pit is? The lady is still in disbelief that you can ski anywhere at this time of year! I stumble my way through a half ass explanation, then turns into what I do for a living.
No matter how much I travel for skiing I still maintain partly to myself and definitely to the customs agents that these trips are for pleasure. The reality is that they really are more of a business trip but the headaches associated with saying I am are on business trip are too much for me.
Customs lady “What do you do for a living?”
“I’m a carpenter”
“That’s it!” Clearly she has seen my business class ticket from Santiago to Toronto and is becoming slightly more suspicious.
“And you traveled down to Chile for a week to ski by yourself, why such a short trip?”
“ I got to get back to work to pay for it!”
Anyway after 20 minutes of hassling, talking in circles, finding nothing I am finally set free back into Canada. Just part of the traveling dream these days.
This was on my way home from a whirlwind tour to Valle Nevado, Chile with the Ride Guide. Valle Nevado is perched high up in the Andes Mountains above the city of Santiago. The trip consisted of Spencer Francey who organized the trip through his company Chasing Winter Productions, David Owen with Powder Quest and Josh from the Ride Guide. Four years ago I did another Ride Guide trip with Spencer and Dave all over South America so it was awesome to hook back up with them for some turns and beers.
I didn’t think too much about the trip before we left as I was working, playing and enjoying summer! I figured it would more or less be a standard film trip being more than happy just to be skiing on someone else’s dime. Soon I found out that I would be wine and dined like the royalty that I think I am. Starting out with the business class flight from Toronto to Santiago with LAN Airlines (thanks LAN). Once we made it out of the lounge and pranced out to the plan they instantly ask you for a drink, “Yes I will have champagne before take off. I mean this is the sort of traveling that I could get used. You know when you normally get on the plane and have to walk through business class people drinking champagne in their huge seats, yeah I was that guy. I would be lying if it didn’t make me feel awesome. Then just before take off the attendants come around;
“Eh, Senor Rubens”
“Here is the menu for tonight’s dinner, after take off I will be taking your order!” I had no idea you could get a menu on a plane! I glance at the menu, appetizers, a wine pairing with every meal, choices that are making my mouth water just reading them! So this is how the el hefes of the world live. For the most part I just tried concentrate on just making myself look like I do this all the time and it is no big deal. That is until you get to the chair control, once u figure it out, it apparently fully reclines into a bed. There is about 10 different options to change, I ponder for a while and then figure that maybe another drink will help the thought process.
We arrive first thing in the morning in Santiago and are treated to a beautiful sunrise over the city and the Andes. We spend a couple of hours in the city showing Josh, who has never been to Chile some of the sights and sounds of the bustling city then we are on our way up to Valle Nevado. If you have never been up there you are in for quite the ride, the road from Santiago takes a little over two hours in good conditions, it switchbacks it way up into the mountains climbing from pretty much sea level too 3000 meters. When you get to the lodge you are dizzy from the windy road, the gain in elevation and incredible views that the Andes mountains have to offer. The lodge is located on the only safe looking bench in the near vicinity. The resort sprawls out from the lodge with awesome terrain as fair as the eye can see. The resort is dwarfed by the 5030m peak of El Plomo! There is still a couple of hours left too ski, so Josh and I quickly throw our gear on and head out eagerly for our first turns of the summer. It is crazy to think that we had only arrived in Chile that morning.
After some breath taking runs, the lodge is at 3000M so everything that you ski is well above that, the altitude definitely takes your breath away. We met up with Christina Shrek, the PR lady for Valle Nevado, who has been organizing the trip with Spencer. She is a super cool woman who loves to shred on a snowboard and made out stay awesome.
The resort has everything right at your finger tips and we spent a deluxe week getting wine and dined at some of their fine restaurants. With amazing food, delicious Chilean wine and some great skiing right at the backdoor things could not have been better.
As with all good things they must come to an end, unfortunately just as I was settling into the winter thing, it was time to leave. I was sad to leave but I would be lying if I wasn’t a little excited to get on the business class flight back to Canada. All in all a great trip. Fun shredding with good people, I mean it was over 30 degrees at home while I was down there, a little pow skiing in July it couldn’t be better. I even got some powder on my face!