Brrrr, it seems as if Santiago is getting colder every day, even though it’s supposed to be Spring time! We didn’t mind the cold weather last week, because we knew that cold weather means the snow on the mountains take longer to melt, and we wanted as much snow as we could get for our snowboarding trip on Saturday! Through facebook we got hold of a guy who arranges trips to Valle Nevado, one of the biggest resorts in South America, and we were up bright and early on Saturday morning to catch our lift to the Andes slopes! It takes about two hours to get to Valle Nevado from Santiago in a car. It is a long, windy road up the mountain and once you reach the top the view is spectacular. We arrived early enough to avoid queues at the rental shop and soon we were geared up with heavy boots and boards to hit the slopes! The Gondola ride to the restaurant and training slopes offers a view over the different runs and slopes – we were there so early that very few people were on the slopes before us. Together with Heber (pronounced ‘Ever’) our friend from Mexico we tried out the small training slopes. I was very happy to find that I still remembered how to snowboard after more than five years of no snowboarding!
The training slope has a lift (also known as a magic carpet), so it’s easy to ride down and get to the top of the slope again.
We had a snowboarding lesson with a Spanish instructor named Fransesco. I got bored and frustrated during the lesson, because the instructor decided that Dirk was his star student and spent a lot of time helping him, while I got impatient and wanted to start riding down the slopes! We were lucky that we could ride in mostly good snow at such a late stage in the season – at some places on the slopes we hit bad patches where mud and rocks were coming through the snow and Dirk injured his wrist when he fell on an icy patch where the snow had melted. After the lesson we tried out two green (beginner) slopes (nearly fell off a ski lift in the process!) and had lunch at the restaurant when it started snowing lightly. Dirk has snowflakes in his hair in the above picture:) When we were ready to carry on snowboarding after lunch the sunny morning had turned into a cold afternoon and a white cloud of mist had descended onto the slope!
The sky was just as white as the snow – you couldn’t see ten metres in front of you! We thought the cloud would go away after a few minutes, but it got worse and we knew it would be unsafe to carry on down the slopes, so we spent our last hour riding down the training slope over and over and over. The picture below is Dirk on the ‘Magic Carpet’ again. One can see the difference in visibility clearly – the mist blocks out every thing around him.
I am surprised that the slopes were kept open when the mist covered the mountain – when we road down in the gondola we saw some crazy people brave enough to ride down the slopes in the mist!
With big smiles and stiff legs and backs we returned our snowboards and took off our wet pants, ready to head back home to Santiago.