Josh Daiek battles Mt. Ruapehu in New Zealand

As ski season down under winds down, here’s an interesting story by Josh Daiek at www.joshdaiek.com:

“I powered down the table saw and took a seat for my lunch break when I noticed a missed call from Mike Douglas. His voicemail informed me of an upcoming ski trip to New Zealand, I frantically called back eager to hear the details. The trip was for a Salomon Freeski TV project, the plan, explore and expose some of the less popular skiing on the northern island. I was thrilled, I’ve always wanted to ski New Zealand. I tried not to sound overly excited or anxious as I confirmed with Douglas “I’m in!” I hung up the phone and began dancing around the room like an idiot.

My first instinct was to research and gather as much info as possible about the mountains and conditions on the north island, but as I began typing into the Google search I simply stopped. What does it matter? I thought. I’m going to get on a plane, fly half way around the world and go skiing during summer! That’s all that matters anyway. It seemed like the right thing to do, maybe a little more spontaneous, no expectations, no schedule, no worries.

After an airport rendezvous in Auckland, the crew assembled of 3 skiers; Mike Douglas, Chris Rubens, myself, 2 cinematographers; Anthony Bonello, Ben Knight and 1 photographer; Bruno Long. We crammed all gear and people into two cars and rolled out. We merged onto the highway and I unfolded a road map asking Mike “Where are we going?” It was then that he began to reveal the story of the natives, the Maori Tribe, and their sacred volcanoes. We were out to explore, document and ski these historical volcanoes.

Our first day we headed to Mt. Ruapehu to explore the ski resort Whakapapa. As we drove to the mountain I sat in the back seat, my eyes glued to the window, anxiously awaiting the sight of the mountains. Mother nature had other plans though, with dense cloud cover, rain and nearly nonexistent visibility we weren’t afforded a real view of the mountain. The first week we struggled to tough out the elements, battling in the rain and seeing how long are goretex would last. A combination of bullet proof crust and the gnarliest flat light I’ve ever seen (or not seen) made for some tough skiing too.

After a long day of strife at the resort we made our way home when all of the sudden, the clouds began to part. For the first time on our trip we actually saw Mt Ruapehu! I think we were all pretty excited to finally see the mountain and as the sunset behind the horizon I was pumped for the next day.

Read more in RUAPEHU

Australia has best season in decades

By HENRY BELOT
Ski resorts on the Snowy Mountains are preparing for the final week of the ski season in what has been described as one of the best seasons in almost a decade.

With the season officially coming to an end, Thredbo spokeswoman Susie Diver described the year as a healthy result for the entire industry despite the doom and gloom felt when ski-fields were only dusted with snow for the Queens birthday.

“It really comes down to an amazing snowfall of two metres within just a couple of days in July and a very cold and dry August that meant the snow cover remained,” she said.

Read more Bumper ski season heads for the finish line – http://www.theage.com.au/act-news/bumper-ski-season-heads-for-the-finish-line-20140926-10la9a.html via @theage

Lou’s travels in Chile: Lonquimay to Baños Morales

Here’s a fun story by Lou Dawson on www.wildsnow.com

“During spring of 1981 I was in Chile with my friend and climbing partner Rich Jack. So going back there several weeks ago was a nostalgia hit along with a fun dose of adventure travel. Our 1981 trip lasted three months. After nearly four weeks of skiing at Portillo (and before that failing on a couple of big Andes alpine climbs in Peru), we bypassed the closer Santiago region and headed farther south for the town of Osorno, where we planned on skiing a few volcanoes. Due to weather and transportation issues we only got up Villarica Volcano (fun back then, and still popular.) Honestly, I never thought I’d be back. I like Chile, but my home mountains in Colorado and the European Alps seem to be the ranges that call me.

Chile is huge, 2,610 miles north/south. Extending for much of those miles something like 4,000 volcanoes and the Andes mountains result in one of the most prolific collection of peaks in the world; when combined with Peru and Argentina, way more mountains than the Alps, perhaps even exceeding the North American northern-west coast ranges. Much of the Andes range is roadless. Even though parts of Chile are more roaded than most people assume, very little access is as easy as you get in western Europe. Thus, as happens in the North America, the places with road access to the alpine do become popular. Those are the areas I focused on during this trip, though “popular” is a relative term. (If you go outside those zones you’re looking at overnight trips supported by pack animals or your own back.)

Our new Chilean friend Casey Earle picked me up at Las Trancas after the Marker Kingpin tech binding event. We’d had terrible weather: scouring winds in the highlands and torrential rain at lower elevations. As optimists, Casey and I stayed a few more nights in Las Trancas thinking we could get up on the Nevados Chillan volcanoes for some touring. We were totally shut down.

My luxury stay during the Marker press event at Rocanegra was impressive, but wasn’t the real Chile you get if you’re a middle to low budget adventure traveler. Moving to Chil-in at Las Trancas gave me a soft re-entry into the world of less costly lodging that’s one of the more interesting aspects of South American ski travel.

What makes it “interesting” is you simply don’t know what you’re going to get. For example, the showers at Chil-in were hot and powerful, in bathrooms down the hall. At Rocanegra you had a bathroom in your room, but the shower stayed cool unless you ran it forever. Chil-in served good solid food but it wasn’t fancy. Rocanegra served the cuisine of a luxury European hotel. The great equalizer is Chilean wine. I was quaffing complimentary wine at Rocanegra that tasted like a $50 bottle from Napa; later we were buying that same wine for $5.00 USD a bottle in quaint regional mercados. In either case, who cares how the showers perform?

Read more of Lou’s story at CHILE

Intrawest Passport returns and goes on sale

Passport - Join the Ski Revolution
THE INTRAWEST PASSPORT IS BACK!
EARLY SEASON PRICING GUARANTEED
NOW THROUGH OCT. 20
Intrawest - Passport: Steamboat, Winter Park Resort, Tremblant, Stratton, Snowshoe, Blue Mountain
It’s that time of year to begin planning for your ski or snowboard vacation with friends and family! Great news for you, the revolutionary Intrawest Passport is BACK and on SALE! The Intrawest Passport™ will allow guests to ski/ride for six days during the 2014-2015 ski season at Steamboat and Winter Park in Colorado; Blue Mountain in Ontario; Mont Tremblant in Quebec; Stratton Mountain in Vermont; and Snowshoe Mountain in West Virginia.
HOW PASSPORT WORKS
1 Primary Adult Passport $589 (required) + Additional Adults $449 (Up to 5 Passports) + Teen Ages 12-20 (Up to 5 Passports) + Children FREE (Up to 5 Passports)
THE MORE YOU ADD, THE MORE YOU SAVE.
Watch this video to learn more.
Click Here to Watch a Fun Video on Passport
Let's Go! - Click here to learn more

Powderhounds.com sums up Craigieburn ski field in New Zealand

Craigieburn ski field rope tow in New Zealand (Photo courtesy of Powderhounds.com)

Craigieburn ski field rope tow in New Zealand (Photo courtesy of Powderhounds.com)

Powderhounds.com delivers this analysis of Craigieburn ski field in New Zealand:

Steep, deep and cheap sums up Craigieburn ski field in New Zealand. The club field in the Southern Alps (about 1.5 hours north-west of Christchurch) is definitely not a “resort” as there are no frills and definitely no glitz or glamour. You won’t find any of the Prada wearing set here, as it’s reserved for hard-core ski enthusiasts and powderhounds. The famous mohawked skier Glen Plake loved the Craigieburn ski area so much that he joined the club. A run has now been named after him – “Plake’s Mistake”. If Glen Plake made a mistake, then it gives you a bit of an idea about the difficulty of the terrain at Craigieburn Valley.

Craigieburn Ski and Snowboard TerrainCraigieburn Valley (or Craigieburn for short) has some of New Zealand’s most challenging patrolled terrain. The Craigieburn ski terrain varies from steep narrow chutes to wide open powder bowls. There is no grooming except for the grooming that Mother Nature performs, so the ski area is all “off-piste”. Long runs resemble heli-ski runs when there is fresh powder. Heli-skiing at the price of a $60 lift ticket – choice eh?

Of course Craigieburn doesn’t have the luxury of a helicopter, but rather a fairly primitive lift system. There are three nutcracker ropetows to transport skiers up steep pitches to cover 500 metres of vertical. The lifts are pretty fast, but the basic nature of them is great for keeping the crowds away. The major benefit of course is that there are more fresh tracks for those who are super keen (and super-fit).

If the steep nutcrackers on the way up don’t humble you, then the terrain on the way down might. This is not a ski area for families or beginners. Even strong intermediates would struggle with the terrain unless the snow conditions were absolutely perfect. Sixty percent of the terrain is under-rated as blue, but perhaps these runs are considered easy in comparison to the triple black runs which are described as “suicidal”.

Officially the resort has around 400 hectares of skiable area, but Craigieburn is a gateway to many more acres of back-country terrain. A bit of trekking is involved to get the best snow, but it is definitely worth the effort. Craigieburn and Broken River ski areas are “interconnected” via a hike of about 15 minutes, which opens up even more terrain.

Read much more in CRAIGIEBURN.

Say it isn’t so, closing dates for ski resorts in New Zealand

Snow.co.nz has listed the closing dates for ski resorts in New Zealand

Sun, 28th Sep Treble Cone 2014 Closing Date Treble Cone Opening / Closing Dates
Sun, 28th Sep Remarkables Scheduled Closing Day The Remarkables Opening / Closing Dates
Sun, 5th Oct Coronet Scheduled Closing Day Coronet Peak Opening / Closing Dates
Sun, 5th Oct Ohau Closing Day Ohau Opening / Closing Dates
Sun, 5th Oct Rainbow Closing Day Rainbow Opening / Closing Dates
Sun, 12th Oct Tukino Closing Date Tukino Opening / Closing Dates
Mon, 13th Oct Hutt Scheduled Closing Day Mt Hutt Opening / Closing Dates

Please note: this calendar is a guide only and these dates are subject to change. 

Vail plans nightclub experience on mountain

High elevation energy, world-class DJ entertainment and the ultimate mountaintop nightclub experience returns to Vail Mountain, one of the largest ski resortsin the world, as the resort welcomes back Décimo for six exclusive nights during the 2014-2015 winter season.

Last winter, Vail Mountain re-imagined the nightclub experience in the Colorado Rocky Mountains with Décimo when it debuted in March to a sold-out crowd. Located at 10,250 feet above sea level on Vail Mountain, Décimo featured three-time Grammy nominee, DJ, producer and artist Paul Oakenfold in an event that matched the legendary reputation of the mountain and resort.

This winter, let Gondola One in Vail Village take you to new heights for Décimo’s one-of-a-kind mountaintop dance party on Vail Mountain. Currently scheduled Décimo dates for the upcoming winter season include:

  • Wednesday, Dec. 31, 2014
  • Saturday, Jan. 24, 2015
  • Friday, Jan. 30, 2015
  • Friday, Feb. 13, 2015
  • Friday, March 6, 2015
  • Thursday, April 2, 2015

“The hugely successful debut of Décimo last March confirmed our belief that this is what our discerning guests from around the world are looking for to complete their experience in Vail,” said Chris Jarnot, senior vice president and chief operating officer of Vail Mountain. “We’re thrilled to be sharing Décimo this season and giving our guests even more reason to return to Vail.”
 
Décimo will continue to blend exceptional service and renowned entertainment with the excitement of a world-class nightspot set amongst the iconic backdrop of Vail Mountain. Each unique event will begin at the base of Gondola One in Vail Village.

From there, guests will be carried to mid-mountain in the gondola’s state-of-the-art cabins, complete with heated seats and Wi-Fi access. Just steps away from the top of the gondola, guests will enter a space that has undergone a carefully orchestrated transformation into the chic, dynamic nightspot that is Décimo, an exclusive nightclub experience complete with VIP tables and bottle service.
 
For information on Décimo events for the 2014-2015 winter season, FAQs and ticketing or VIP package details, visit www.DecimoVail.com or call (970) 754-CIMO (2466).
 
The Décimo experience is designed by Vail Resorts in conjunction with Las Vegas-based hospitality consulting firm Macro Management Group, known for providing a variety of expertise and services to events and ventures in Las Vegas, Nev. and Los Angeles, Calif.

Promo Video: http://vimeo.com/88457180

Savor The Andes At Valle Nevado’s Wine Fest

WineFest-EN

The Wine Fest at Valle Nevado is back and better than ever! Explore the fruits of Chile’s Central Valley by sampling premium wines from the region’s most prestigious vineyards. Wine Fest 2014 will be held today from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m..

Wine Fest features tastings from top Chilean wineries including Concha y Toro, Undurraga, Errázuriz, Casa Marín, Veramonte, and more, offering something new for every palate.

This event is free for all guests of the Hotels Valle Nevado, Puerta del Sol and Tres Puntas. Join us next to the Puerta del Sol pool.

Stories from the road in Portillo, Chile

Loved this story by Dan Kostrzewski on Powder.com:

The pool at the Hotel Portillo is, in my book, one of the most spectacular places on earth. A landlocked bright yellow cruise ship high in the Chilean Andes, Ski Portillo was unseasonably 60-degree warm for early September and very, very dry. Laguna Inca had already melted out and Los Tres Hermanos—the 15,000-foot peaks above the lake—were more rocky brown than windblown white. The storm season at Portillo was done and we had missed the last gasp by one week. Portillo was melting and our view was the consolation prize. Photographer Grant Gunderson and I were deep in the pool, drinking gringo-rate beers, admitting story defeat, and enjoying Chilean après during Brazilian week at 9,450 feet.

“Hey Grant,” boomed a voice from the balcony. “What the hell are you doing here?”

Standing on the deck was a face from both of our pasts: Craig Merrill, a former Baker local who had moved to Colorado nearly a decade ago for a job or a girl or some combination of the two. He and his buddy, Cody, were on a South America migration. Insufficient rental car paperwork thwarted their border crossing into Argentina and a Chilean border agent turned them back around. Holed up in a cheap rental down the steep beast of a highway that wound 30 switchbacks toward Los Andes, they spent their remaining ski days cracking into a gray zone between the customs terminal and the actual international border at the Tunnel de Cristiano Rentador. Over their first eight-buck beer in the hotel bar, they assured me they’d found pow above 12,000 feet, but there was a catch.

“Bring your passport,” Craig said.

The next morning I was hip deep, out of breath, and out of hiking shape, bootpacking up a steep final slope at 13,000 feet in the Andes to a high point with a view of 22,841-foot Aconcagua, the highest point in the Western and Southern Hemispheres. We’d started skinning at the tunnel, switchbacking into this no man’s land in hot, mushy spring corn then rising around a corner to higher ground, thick fog, breakable crust, and then finally deep, unconsolidated pow in a disorienting Andean swirl. It was a long way and a few years from Baker, but Craig’s presence pulled me up the final pitches, breaking trail, setting the pace, then finally handing over his last remaining Gu.

portillo-borderlands-pq

Even thousands of miles from home, skiers travel in a small circle. Like a failsafe, past connections have resurfaced on every foreign trip I’ve taken. An Icelandic farmhouse, a Chamonix gondola, a Bariloche hut, or a Smithers ice cave—each place, the crew I’ve run with has bumped into friends, friends-of-friends, and true brothers from some mission in the past. These chance encounters are the best unknown of packing the ski bag. The more air miles logged and the more odd encounters, the stronger the tie to this strange fraternity. Our small world of skiing is why someplace this foreign can feel as welcoming as home.

Read more about his trip at BORDERLANDS.

Chile’s ski resorts of Portillo and Valle Nevado

Here’s an interesting comparison by wakeandwonder posted on jaunted.com

“If you’re flying into Santiago for a ski trip, you have a number of options when it comes to the resort you choose, including Portillo, La Parva, El Colorado, Valle Nevado, and Termas de Chillán.

In this post, we highlight the two most recognizable for out-of-towners, Portillo and Valle Nevado. What’s the difference between the two, and which is right for you? Read on to find out.


Above: Valle Nevado

The Sking:

Valle Nevado is the largest ski resort in the Southern Hemisphere with over 34 square-miles of terrain. It is part of Chile’s Tres Valles ski area, meaning that the same lift ticket is good at both La Parva and El Colorado as well. Overall, the terrain is largely intermediate, with most of the groomers designed for what the resort describes as “laid-back cruising.” Adventure-seekers will still flock to Valle Nevado as it gains popularity for its excellent heli-skiing.

Portillo is smaller in size, but more extreme in terms of its terrain. It was the host of the 1966 World Championships for alpine racing, and has since served as a training ground for many Olympic teams and celebrity skiers during the North Hemisphere summer. There are only a handful of groomed trails, and much of the appeal of Portillo lies in its hike-to terrain and its high speed, multi-person poma lifts that pull skiers up the sides of the bowl.

Above: View of the Laguna del Inca from the deck of Ski Portillo

The Lodging and Amenities:

Valle Nevado is home to three hotels and a few condo buildings, each offering its own individual amenities, including restaurants, pools, hot tubs, and vibe. The lodgings are modern at Valle Nevado, with much of it being built in the past few decades. The Hotel Puerta del Sol is the most famous silhouette at the top of the mountain, commanding some of the best views, with moderate pricing. The eponymous Hotel Valle Nevado is the luxurious offering, with designer furniture and the chic crowd to sit in it. For budget travelers, Hotel Tres Puntas is where you’ll want to be. They’re all on the same mountaintop; the prices only mean a different standard of amenities.

There is only one hotel at Portillo: Ski Portillo. When at capacity, it accommodates about 500 guests, and has a pool, large hot tubs, fitness center, restaurant, bar, and disco on site. The hotel was built in the 1940s and has changed very little since those first years, making it a very historical place. That said, while the dining room walls could talk, the food and service are up to date with the times. Modern amenities, such as wireless Internet, are also now offered. And don’t forget about Tio Bob’s, one of South America’s best apres ski spots.

The Vibe:

Because of its infrastructure, Valle Nevado plays more like a traditional North American ski resort, attracting a wide variety of overnight guests and day trippers with different priorities and interests. Instruction for beginners of all ages is available, but you’ll be buzzed along the slopes by the best skiiers in the world; Valle Nevado is the training ground for many winter Olympic ski teams, plus host to events like the Copa Atilio (Chile’s oldest slopestyle competition).

The experience at Portillo is a lot different due to its intimate size and limited lodging. It is often compared to that of a cruise ship in that 1) Most people come and ski at the resort for a week, usually Saturday to Saturday 2) Dining is included in your stay and, like a cruise ship, there are seating times for breakfast, lunch, and dinner 3) Everyone stays at the same hotel and there is only one restaurant, one bar, one pool area, and one nightclub, allowing guests to get to know each other very quickly and making socializing easy and unavoidable.