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Entries from Chile Ski

Chile Ski: Reid & Team Termas Bound

As promised, the storm hit Araucania last night. After a nice evening sunset on Villarrica, the rain came. We retreated from our camp this morning with heavy wet snowflakes falling from the sky, very happy to not be high up on Lanin. Now we are on our way to Peumayen, a beautiful lodge and termas (hot springs) outside of Pucon. This is our last night in Chile, and one to celebrate - this trip has been top notch. Great crew, great skiing conditions, a lot of great weather… Every year I’m always amazed how fast this trip goes.

Tomorrow we head for the airport and home to the US. Thanks for following along!

RMI Guide Tyler Reid and the Chile Ski Crew

Chile Ski: Reid & Team Ski Some New Terrain on Villarrica

With a gnarly low pressure system poised to strike our intended high camp on Lanin, in my experience the windiest mountain in the world, we decided a more prudent plan would be to focus our efforts on skiing some new terrain on Villarrica. This meant foregoing our two day attempt on Lanin (with the forecast, our odds of summiting were minuscule) so with a team consensus we decided to spend an evening camped on Villarrica instead.

Today we traversed around the mountain to the east and found a very long run down snaky lava tubes full of corn snow. We skied three runs today totaling 5800 vertical feet, and now we’re about to have dinner at our Villarrica camp. Another fun day in Chile - hoping the weather is merciful tomorrow.

RMI Guide Tyler Reid & the Chile Ski Team

Chile Ski: To the Summit of Villarica & A Ski Descent

Today was slated as a rest day in our itinerary, but one member of our group was psyched to forego rest in favor of another uphill skiing adventure on Villarrica - and this one resulted in standing on the summit. The weather was absolutely perfect today and the snow conditions were efficient for uphill travel, as well as great skiing.

With the nice weather and being a weekend, there were a significant number of local guided climbing groups plodding their way up the main route, but we found our own variation that made it feel like we had the mountain to ourselves. It took us 4.5 hours to the summit, and about 30 minutes to ski down. Love ski mountaineering.

RMI Guide Tyler Reid
& the Chile Ski Team

Chile Ski: Reid & Team Ski above Lago Villarrica

This morning we headed for Villarrica to go for a ski, knowing that the forecast was probably not conducive to going to the top. We managed to hide from the wind for 3,000’ of mostly skinning, edging into frozen snow with our ski crampons. Above us, a lenticular cloud was growing over the summit. Below us, we had clear views of Lago Villarrica’s azure waters, the bustling town of Pucon on its eastern shore, and Llaima and Sollipulli in the distance.

We had a nice long run back to the van, where our driver Juan was waiting with his usual warm greeting. The weather looks better tomorrow, and we’re going to take another crack at Villarrica… stay tuned!

RMI Guide Tyler Reid and the Chile Ski Team

Chile Ski: Team Climbs and Skis Llaima

Llaima is a big mountain, deceivingly big - from beneath it looks like a reasonable couple hours of climbing…not so. I learned this my first time on Llaima four years ago.
Yesterday we had an adventurous day on Llaima. Sun, clouds, heat, cold, calm, wind, visibility, low vis…sticky snow, icy snow, sastrugi, soft snow, corn… some horrible skiing, and a lot of amazing skiing. We walked, we skinned, we climbed. There is an old pocket glacier that’s usually well covered in snow, but this year there were exposed crevasses, which added to the route finding challenge. At 15:30, standing on a rough, icy slope in strong wind, we decided to call it - about an hour from the summit. This was not safe snow for skiing so we down-climbed about 1,000’ before putting on our skis. The rest of the descent was super fun, and went quickly. We didn’t get to stand on top, but the group consensus was that this was an even more awesome day than summiting Lonquimay.
Today we had a nice drive to the town of Pucon, with perfectly clear skies. We were able to see all four of our volcanoes - Lonquimay, Llaima, Villarica, and Lanin. We stopped in the town of Villarica for a nice lunch and to take some photos of the mountain (Villarica) towering above the lake.

Another great couple of days in Araucania.

RMI Guide Tyler Reid & the Chile Ski Team

Chile Ski: Team Skis From Summit of Lonquimay

Yesterday we awoke to a crisp morning, with a blanket of fresh snow up high. Enough snow to stop our van in its tracks on the approach road to Lonquimay, but we didn’t mind the extra skinning. The weather was a bit stormy the top 2,000’ of the mountain, so we decided to save the summit for the next day. We still got to ski a couple long, very fun laps above massive lava fields, and later our crew went for a pre-dinner soak at the local thermas.

Today we had perfect Southern Hemisphere spring weather and were able to ski from the summit. We skinned up to about 8,500’, where we transitioned to boot crampons and threw our skis on our backs. Another 900’ of methodical climbing and we were on top.
The big news however is that Sergio, our host here in Malalcahuello, is cooking his famous Chilean asado for us tonight - something I look forward to every year.
All is great with us.

RMI Guide Tyler Reid & the Chile Ski Team

Chile Ski: Team Arrives and Gets in Their First Turns

The whole group is here and today we put skis on our feet for the first time. We found some nice corn on the lower flanks of Lonquimay that made for smooth turns. Now we’re settled into our casa at the Suizandina Lodge here in Malalcahuello, next to a warm fire. The crackling of logs is interrupted by sizzling water droplets, vaporizing as they fall from our damp skins onto the hot stove. Life is good!

RMI Guide Tyler Reid & Chile Ski Team

Chile Ski: Tyler Reid and Team Climb Lanin and Complete Their Ski Adventure

My last experience on Volcan Lanin was two years ago, and it was severely windy. Since then I’ve yet to talk to anyone who has had a calm experience on this mountain.

Two days ago as our team was climbing a steep gully, with 7,000’ of vertical relief above us, that Lanin wind taunted us. The weather forecast called for things to calm down in the late afternoon, but weather forecasts in southern Chile should be read with a degree of skepticism - there’s simply a lack data points in these parts to expect much accuracy.

At 3:30 in the afternoon I thought to myself, we’ll give it 45 more minutes. The wind needs to mellow out significantly. And we need to find a safe place to camp. Basically some alignment of the stars, or we’re going to have to retreat to the monkey puzzle forest…

At 4:15 I scampered up the steep edge of the gully while our group took a break under a rock outcrop. On a protruding ridge I stumbled upon a perfect, safe, snowy ledge carved out by that Lanin wind. And then I thought wait a minute - where’s the wind? Gone.

We had an amazing evening camped in our fortified perch, looking out on dramatic cloud layers. Darkness turned to what felt like daytime, with a very full moon illuminating our tent walls.

The next morning we started climbing - kicking steps in the frozen snow with crampons on our boots.

Our Chile Volcanoes trip landed in the middle of a very unsettled weather pattern here in Araucania. 1,500’ above our camp on Lanin, the snow started to fall, the wind started to blow, the clouds came in, and my attention started to turn from my surroundings to my GPS.

Time to go down. Good thing skiing is so much fun in and of itself. We were smiling big by the time we rolled into camp, and smiling bigger by the time we hit the snow line on the lower flanks of the mountain. 3000’ or so of perfectly smooth corn…

Thanks Chile for 8 awesome days of skiing, and thanks Lonquimay and Sollipulli for allowing us to visit your summits. Llaima and Lanin…we’ll be back next year. And thanks to our awesome Chile 2015 crew: JP, Stephen, and Wendy. And a special thanks to our amazing local outfitter and guide, Sergio Perez.

RMI Guide Tyler Reid

Chile Ski Mountaineering: Reid & Team Take A Rest Day

Today we’re having a rest day in the town of Pucon with an afternoon trip to the Termas (hot springs). Tomorrow we set out for two days on Volcan Lanin, our final objective of the trip. We’ll keep you posted on how things go the next couple of day but for now, it’s time to rest.

RMI Guide Tyler Reid

Chile Ski Mountaineering: Reid & Team Summit Sollipulli

With Sergio’s 4x4 driving skills playing a crucial role, yesterday our Hyundai van plowed through the 20 cm blanket of new snow over the road to Las Araucarias, a ski area at the base of Volcan Llaima. It felt like full blown winter leaving the parking lot - snow falling from the sky… We decided to take the optimistic approach and see if we could potentially climb out of the clouds. After an hour or so we were at the top of the ski area, with no reference points above. We were able to fit five of us in a tiny unused lift shack, and I did what I usually so when times are uncertain: put on some reggae. With my iPhone as the sound system and Chronixx filling the air, it was the ideal “out-chill the situation” maintenance break. Properly fueled and motivated, we ascended into the whiteness above. Hours later we found ourselves in the parking lot, this time Sergio’s Hyundai as the sound system, Protoje filling the air, cervezas in hand, smiles on our faces… Llaima (and the weather) said no yesterday, but what a positive day in the mountains it was.

Yesterday evening we drove to another mountain, the Hyundai taking us up and up and up a steep lava rock road in 4LO, into a mysterious and remote mountain jungle. Out of the mist appeared Sollipulli Lodge, a place that inspires your childlike imagination. “Eco lodge” is probably the best term to describe this place - each room is its own incredible yurt-like pod situated on a lagoon, with other beautiful alternative structures connected by boardwalks. Mountain jungle living, combined with incredible comfort, and incredibly gracious hosts - the father and son duo Christian and Robert.

Sollipulli is a volcano with an expansive crater that similar to Crater Lake in Oregon and was once much taller before collapsing inward on itself. This morning we had a beautiful ascent to the summit, using a variety of ski mountaineering skills along the way. The weather was in and out, but eventually we found ourselves back in the “viento blanco” - low visibility, annoyingly windy, snowing…

I learned a new tactic on Sollipulli for terrain reference in whiteout conditions. When you’re in the lead, it can be hard to know what sort of terrain you are on, or about to walk into, and guides will use various tricks in these conditions to ensure they’re not leading the group off a cornice or into a crevasse. These are low tech solutions like throwing snowballs, casting a piece of cord tied to your ski pole like a fishing rod…or bringing along a pack of three golden retrievers who follow you all the way to the summit, clearly loving every minute of it, while also providing valuable terrain reference. These Sollipulli dogs were amazing, and also very competent in the winter alpine environment.

Our Sollipulli descent ended in a wood-fired hot tub next to a crystal clear river, an ideal place to relax in the late afternoon rain.

RMI Guide Tyler Reid

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