Chilean Ski Trip to Valle Nevado

Erin Orchard is a student at the University of Denver and an ISA Featured Blogger. Erin is currently studying abroad with ISA in Valparaíso and Viña del Mar, Chile.

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On the lift

It’s almost spring here in Chile, which means there aren’t many more ski days left. Naturally, we needed another ski day so I began looking into how we could ski another resort besides Portillo since we skied there last month. After looking for a bit, I discovered Valle Nevado ski center.

Friday morning came early as 6 of my friends and I met at the bus terminal in Viña del Mar at 5:15 am.  We left promptly at 5:30 and headed to Santiago on a big tour bus that was at least 90 degrees inside. After arriving in Santiago at 7am we headed to the metro for our 30 minute subway ride. 7:30am+Friday+big city=rush hour so consequently we were jammed against the window for the ride with our backpacks and many clothing layers.
Finally, after meeting up with the tour group, Santiago Exchange, we headed on our 37km drive to the Andes. There had to be at least 50 switchbacks on the road up the mountain, but it was beautiful with waterfalls, desert cacti and then finally snow. I would compare it to Going-To-The-Sun road in Glacier National Park in Montana.
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We got all situated with rentals and were skiing by 11am.  The snow wasn’t the greatest, but it’s hard to complain when we’re all used to skiing in either Colorado or Utah. We had fun being on a pretty deserted mountain skiing fast and making jumps. There really is no feeling like flying down a mountain as fast as you can with the wind straight in your face.
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Going to ski resorts here you see a lot of Brazilians and North Americans so it’s fun to meet new people and exchange stories of why you’re here in Chile. After a snack of peanut butter sandwiches, Pringles and carrots, we left the resort at 5pm and headed to the metro in Santiago. This time we were even more cramped than that morning. Santiago’s metro is the 18th busiest subway in the world; daily there are 2,400,000 passengers that use this extensive subway system. Chile is a very safe country but when you’re using public transportation and everything about you screams gringo you’ve got to be careful, which we were of course. We arrived at the bus station and bought tickets for a 7:50pm bus ride back to Viña. We were able to get home for the last third of the Chilean National futbol game (Chile won 3-0!).
At the end of the day I was elated, happy to have skied, been with friends and been in the mountains. Really, what more could one ask for?
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Author: erinorchard

My name is Erin Orchard and I am a third year student at the University of Denver originally from Salt Lake City, Utah. This fall I have taken the opportunity to study abroad at the Universidad de Adolfo Ibañez in Viña del Mar, Chile. At DU I am a psychology and International Studies double major with minors in biology, leadership, and religious studies so what you can gather from that is I have lots of passions and don't know what direction to take exactly. I love people and our relationships with one another. Since third grade I have said I wanted to study abroad for a year; a semester in a spanish speaking country and another semester elsewhere. I chose Chile because of my love of the outdoors, especially the mountains after living among them my entire life, and the classes I'm able to take here. I'm excited to practice spanish daily, ski in the andes and love the people I meet!

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