Skiing Portillo Ski Resort Portillo, Chile

Rich in history, Portillo ski resort is a one of a kind ski destination.  It is hard to pinpoint what makes Portillo unique.  Portillo holds many different features attractive to the visitor.  The setting is beautiful, the hotel carries a reputation that creates its' ambiance, the ski instructors are more than teachers, the terrain will give you a jolt and when it snows, they connect to form a world class playground.  

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Portillo Resort.  Great chute skiing behind the resort.

Located three hours Northeast of Santiago, Portillo sits in a glaciated valley at nine thousand feet above sea level.  Overlooking a crystal blue lake, the resort has a view straight up the heart of the valley.  As one stares into the surroundings, words of wisdom develop.

Portillo, was first discovered by railway workers constructing one of the first lines between the Chilean central valley and Buenos Aires, in the early 1900s.  Skiing was common amongst the engineers in charge and the Transandean Railway became the first ski lift in Chile.  In 1949, after tumultuous events with politics, war and mother nature, The Portillo hotel opened its doors to the public.  The ski area boasted 2 single chairlifts and a surface lift.  Slope grooming was done by the ski school, the guests, and the high mountain school of the Chilean Army.    

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The Instructors at Potillo are so helpful.

The first ski school director in Portillo was the famous French champion Emile Allais.  Many recognizable superstar names soon followed.  Mrs.  John Randolph Hearst, Willie Shaeffler, Jean Claude Killy, Fidel Castro were some that made it memorable.  Thousands of skiers came to Portillo to see what it was all about.  Generations of the U.S. Ski team worked out on the downhill, errant Kennedy children were chased by the Chilean border police and Argentine polo players tried their luck on skis.  

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Bombing through some great powder

The entire staff at Portillo upholds the fine reputation set by their previous fifty one years in business.  The ski instructors are as worldly as the resort.  Their friendly and helpful approach is impressive and it is nice to be in a arrogant free setting.    

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The lake at Portillo reflects the majestic avalanche chutes in back.

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Sunset over the lake in Portillo.

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One of the fine instructors at Potillo barreling through some good powder.

The terrain will help to moisten the brow and drop a few calories.  In some cases, it is best not to eat before hitting the steep chutes that surround Portillo.  The color of vomit against white snow is disturbing, and clean up isn't included in your lift ticket.

*Feature written and photographed by Phillips, July 2000.  Information supplied from Portillo resort.



Portillo is a three hour drive from Santiago. There is a bus service from Santiago called Ski Totale that will take you there and back. They are perfect.

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Telephone: (56-2) 263-0606 Toll Free: 1-800-829-5325

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Globetrotter Adventures
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