My flight from New York arrived in Santiago early in
the morning. Because of the previous night's
precipitation, Santiago's usual layer of smog was absent.
I took a van from the airport to Ski Total, a company
that transports skiers to the mountain. At $12.50 round trip, it
is a great deal. As I waited to depart, dawn broke. Without pollution,
the view of the Andes was spectacular.
The ride to the slopes was treacherous, but luckily we arrived without
incident. Even with chains on our van's tires, we slipped on several
hairpin turns. A few nervous passengers quietly gasped each time
we lost control. But the magnificent views made the frightening
parts of the drive easy to forget.
Few skiers and snowboarders were at El Colorado.
In this respect, it was a typical early season weekday. The vast
quantities of early season snow were, however, an unusual delight.
The lucky few who were on the slopes had a choice day. I did not
witness anyone who left without a smile.
Most lifts and slopes opened during the day. The
one exception was the steep Cono Este, whose powder would remain
untracked for at least another day. Skiers and riders still had
an excellent choice of powder stashes. The first I discovered was
off the Condor lift. This highly accessible powder had fresh lines
for most of the day. Many other parts of the mountain also had fresh
powder lines all day.
One favorite run was El Avion. The terrain here is
long and steep. Access is over an easy traverse. Powder lines were
endless. Another excellent run was Cornisa. This was the steepest
run open. Each turn in the powder here led to face shots.
To end the day I took some cruisers on the
groomed slopes. The distances were long, and my legs could hardly
take it after skiing powder all day. But it was hard to quit skiing
on this amazing day. When I finally put my skis away in the van,
I easily decided this was one of the best ski days ever.