Skiing - Portillo
Trip Start May 15, 2009
27Trip End May 20, 2010
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We had a great first afternoon skiing - although we also realised that Portillo seemed to be a resort that’s good for beginners and for experts. There are a couple of long-ish blue runs, and a few shorter, steeper reds. Then there are the super steep, ungroomed blacks and double black diamonds (actually, we hadn’t seen a steeper run anywhere than Roca Jack) and mountains of off piste some that led down to the lake that had partially fozen over. The way to get to the top of the black runs was by a 5 person pommer that almost catapulted us up the slope and stopped suddenly at the top, where we were left hanging on for dear life…it took a bit of getting used to but we finally managed to move to the side without falling down the slopes
What the resort lacked were the kms of steep reds that we were used to flying down in some of the bigger European resorts. After that first afternoon we were getting a bit bored of the blues and reds - so we ventured off piste and attempted to tackle the best of the blacks and double black diamonds - after all, isn’t that why people come to Portillo? It was great to see numerous pairs of fat-boy planks that the gun skiers were using to make the best of the deep powder…one day… we thought to ourselves! There were also people recording footage of excellent skiers flying down the [Gargantuan] run - a mogul fest double black diamond which is especially narrow between the rocks at the top - great entertainment for us whilst on the chairlift up before we attempted the same run without nearly the same speed nor style!
We booked a lesson of powder skiing/off piste with an instructor Robert, and changed our skis to more flexible mid-fats. As there aren‘t too many comparable ski resorts in the southern hemisphere, we’d heard that the quality of ski instructors at Portillo was excellent, and Robert didn’t disappoint - he was the best ski instructor we’ve had, and was an encyclopaedia of ski info, from what waist width we should look for on our skis to which Canadian ski resorts would be best on a road trip
We were also lucky enough to witness the Austrian downhill skiing team training for the 2010 winter Olympics in Vancouver/Whistler. We were alerted to their presence when they flew by us on the piste, and by the time we looked up from our turns they were already on the chairlift and half way back up the mountain. The only way to describe it is as if you decided to go for a jog around the park one afternoon, and suddenly Usain Bolt flies by! A couple of the ski team members were kind enough to pose for photos with us, and we stopped for a while to watch them practising the slalom, then being dragged straight back up the slopes on a scodoo. They even had a “water boy” skiing ahead of them with a few different sets of skis that they could choose from - skiers heaven if you ask us!
And so we had a perfect 4 days at Portillo. The sun never stopped shining, and by the time we left we felt they really needed another dump of snow to freshen things up again. The resort itself is fantastic - all inclusive with restaurants, bars, a movie theatre, a gym, a heated outdoor pool overlooking the frozen lake…a resident Saint Bernard…the list goes on! We had such a good time that we finally decided we would take the plunge and head to Canada in November for a ski season… so you never know, we might actually see the Austrian downhill skiing team in action on the slopes again in a few months!