We’re recently back from a quick four-day trip where I learned to ski in Chile! Writing about it a week later, my legs still bear the bruises as a reminder of the fun.
When you think of skiing, you’re forgiven for not thinking of South America – your mind probably immediately takes you to the Alps or the Rockies. There aren’t that many of them, but the Chilean Andes are home to some fantastic ski resorts to rival the classics and keep even the biggest snow junkies happy.
Blurry-eyed after an overnight flight from Lima and running on zero sleep (perfect conditions to try a new adventure-sport), we headed straight into the mountains for two days of skiing at El Colorado ski resort. It’s the closest to the capital Santiago (1.5 hours’ drive away), popular with locals and one of the cheaper options in the region.
Out-skied by toddlers
Learning to ski at the age of 30 is scary. I looked around in wonder at little three and four year old snow bunnies hurling themselves down the slopes without any fear, while I was leg-shakingly terrified (not figuratively, I was actually shaking) at the top of several slopes. I had one ski lesson on our first morning there, and then literally dove straight into the snow (see photo). I tentatively hit the slopes with Steven, Evi and Helge, who took turns ‘babysitting’ and giving me tips while the others headed off for some faster-paced action.
For any skiers wondering about the quality of the resort, I can’t comment as a first timer. Steven describes it as a good, world-class resort, although a bit limited in variety and slightly dated lifts (a few too many T-bars) by European standards. If you’re looking for the best, especially for a longer trip, the neighbouring Valle Nevado has a lot more on offer.
My verdict? I absolutely loved it! I tried to keep up with the others, I kept falling over, but I loved it. Of course I wish I’d learned to ski sooner, but living in the UK, I was never willing to give up my Caribbean winter break back home to Grenada to go somewhere colder than England – a completely illogical notion to this tropical sun-deprived creature.
I’m still not sure I’d be willing to give up my sun fix when back in the UK, which is why learning to ski in Chile or elsewhere in South America is perfect – with the seasons reversed on this side of the equator, it’s great that you can enjoy skiing in July and August.
A view to reflect on
I’ve seen small pathetic patches of snow from time to time living in Manchester. Yes I’ve built a snowman and caught snowflakes on my tongue, but this was my first time surrounded by white snow-capped mountains. I was in complete awe of the beauty of the surroundings. The stillness and tranquillity at the top of the pistes was breath-taking and aesthetically I loved the contrast of never ending white with never ending blue.
If I had to pick one, my favourite moment was sitting on the deck of our hostel watching the sun set over the snow-capped peaks with a glass of Chilean red wine – a Carmenére – recommended by our hostel owner Cristobal. It’s a grape originally from France (similar to Merlot) and now one of Chile’s best sellers. I’d never heard of it but very much enjoyed sampling the local favourite (yes I picked up a bottle at the airport!)
I digress…. back to that view. Looking out at the majestic and imposing snow-capped mountains, I couldn’t help reflecting on how incredibly diverse the continent of South America is. We’ve seen so much already, yet hardly scratched the surface.
Learning to ski in Chile is definitely up there with experiences I won’t be forgetting anytime soon. South America has my heart. I don’t know how I’ll ever say goodbye, but take solice in the anticipation of further adventures to come.
Love from Lima xxx