The Snow Gauge

Running the rule over the ski & snowboard industry since 1995

Why you should ski Portillo, Chile this winter

Posted by on May 11, 2017

Portillo Lake Run

Anthony Sharwood doing some spring preparation on the Lake Run, Portillo. Pic: Glenn Cullen

When discussion turns to which ski resort you’ll visit this southern hemisphere winter the arguments will invariably be of the Noah’s Ark variety.

That is, depending on where you live and your peccadilloes, it will be in a two-by-two format.

Australia vs New Zealand. Victoria vs NSW. Perisher vs Thredbo. Hotham/Falls v Mt Buller.

But for a host of reasons I’d like to throw a third animal into the mix: Portillo, Chile.

I visited the South American giant in August last year and, while far from perfect, it’s a place every skier should head to at least once in their life.

Here’s why.

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Fidel Castro, the ski resort and his missing gun

Posted by on Dec 1, 2016

Fidel Castro

Fidel earned his turns – but this was in Russia. Pic: Alberto Korda

Juan Beiza is a legend of the Chilean Resort Portillo. I got to meet him three months ago and heard about how this one time he nearly got shot trying to give Fidel Castro back his gun. Happens I guess …

Juan Beiza is a man of substance, impeccable habits and has a penchant for making you speak Spanish.

The maitre d at Portillo’s yellow hotel has been there almost as long as the ubiquitous yellow establishment – more than 50 years.

There’d be plenty of tales to tell over that time but in the circumstances it’s timely to relay one and one only: that time he almost got shot by one of Fidel Castro’s henchmen.

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Top five places to ride RIGHT NOW

Posted by on Sep 7, 2016

Portillo Lake Run

Anthony Sharwood doing some spring preparation on the Lake Run, Portillo. Pic: Glenn Cullen

September and October don’t have to be no-man’s (or woman’s) land for skiers and snowboarders looking for somewhere to ride.

These are my top five resorts to ride around the globe that will be rocking for another three to seven weeks so there’s plenty of time to get you fill before the northern hemisphere winter starts.

All resorts listed are based on current conditions and my first hand experience, well except for one place I haven’t got to quite yet …

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The world’s craziest, fastest, most improbable ski lift

Posted by on Aug 31, 2016

The slingshot lift at Portillo

Jack and Jill went up the hill at Portillo thanks to the slingshot lift. But did they make it back down?

Oh my lord. I managed to get on this thing. Now how the bloody hell do I get off?

After rattling up a 30-odd degree slope probably two or three times faster than a t-bar I at least find myself still attached to Portillo’s infamous Roca Jack slingshot.

I somehow managed to ride straight over a ski left on the middle of the track but myself and four others now must exit this cross between a poma on crack and a swingers’ club’s idea of a water skiing cable.

Gulp.

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Two metre season or spring fizzer?

Posted by on Aug 10, 2016

snow measure

The Snow Gauge loves a good snow gauge

Two metres. It’s the mythical mark.The line in the snow that seemingly defines an average or sub par season from a good one. Or perhaps a great one.

Measured from the Spencers Creek site in the Kosciuszko National Park at 1830m, the weekly reading has since been a staple since 1954.

Does two metres ski any different to 199cm or 201cm? Well, of course not. But it still remains the marker that’s embedded in many an Aussie skier and snowboarder’s brain.

Can we reach it in 2016 or is the recent warmer weather an auger for a sharp ending. Well …

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