Tag Archives: Andes

Mallin Alto 04

Into the Backcountry : Mallin Alto, Argentina

Horse riding and skiing in the Patagonian backcountry you say?? …um ok, we’re in.

We set off on our trusty steeds across the ever changing landscapes of Nahuel Huapi National Park. Ambling along a picturesque river and up through snowy forest until we finally reached the rugged mountain range that would be our playground for the next few days.

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I was gobsmacked when we arrived at El Domo, our seriously luxurious backcountry accommodations. The fire was roaring, the mate was ready and Miguel, the chef, was whipping up some lunch. This was to be the “norm” over the next few days. If we weren’t out exploring the mountains, we were warming up by the fire, merrily stuffing our faces with Miguel’s delicious concoctions, washed down with a few bottles of Malbec.

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We knew that mother nature wasn’t going to be on our side. It has been a terrible year for snow and the forecast showed clouds, clouds, with a chance of clouds. At times the visibility was pretty much zilch, but in some ways it added to the adventure. Our guides Kao and Lucio knew the terrain inside and out, and took us exploring on the snow mobiles almost anywhere, and sometimes in a complete whiteout.

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The afternoons were a bit clearer, but also warmer. The snow quickly became wet and sticky. We still managed to get in a few pretty good runs though, and the experience is not something that I will soon forget. No ski lifts, no other people, just us and the mountains.

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The nights were much like the days. Good food, good wine and Mark and I straining to follow conversations in Spanish. We are at the point now, where we basically get the gist of what is being said, but by the time we think of something to say, the conversation has moved on.

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We woke up on the last morning to a light blanket of new snow covering the land. This is something that I will truly miss when we move back to Australia. The peaceful beauty of wandering amongst trees heavily laden with snow, has to be up there as one of my favourite things.

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Luckily, we had time for a few more runs …

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Soon the famous Patagonian wind had moved in and was roaring wildly all around us.  This was finally our queue to leave.

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Thanks again to Manu and everyone at Mallin Alto. It doesn’t get much better than this!

Posted from Puerto Natales, Chile

Portillo 06

Ski Bums : Portillo, Chile

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.

And by the same token. When life gives you winter… go skiing.

Portillo 15Not bad… for a snowboarder

It was never really in our grand plan to be travelling through the southern Andes in mid winter, but maybe it should have been. After a few years of living in Alberta we have really grown to love a white winter. Freezing our butts off in the altiplano of Bolivia just didn’t feel right without the snow to make it all worthwhile.

So we were pretty stoked when we crossed the border into Chile and stopped just a few minutes later at Portillo. The little ski resort of Portillo is high up in the Andes, with a beauty of a lake nestled between the jagged peaks.

It’s not a particularly big ski resort by North American or European standards, but it sure is pretty.

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We camped in the carpark for a couple of nights and had a great day of skiing.

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There hasn’t been a whole lot of snowfall this year, but the icy slopes softened up nicely after a few hours of bright sunlight. Just like spring skiing in the Rockies.

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And really, is there a better place to enjoy a beer and a burger than on top of a mountain, with the warm sun beating out the cold? Not many, if any.

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Although I make it sound like an ideal stopover, it wasn’t without hassles.

I was still battling some unknown illness and spewed from the chairlift.

On top of that, we’ve had a leaky rear brake for weeks now and have had it checked out by three different brake ‘experts’ already. We thought that the last guy in Mendoza had replaced the cylinder with a new one, but we dismantled the brakes in the carpark and found out that this wasn’t the case. This has been incredibly frustrating.

Some amigos in Portillo assured me that the next 60km of descending road wasn’t as bad as it looked. So we pushed on.

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Luckily, they were right. We made it Los Andes without hassle and finally took matters into our own hands. I was working on the van in front of a brake workshop and the guy there recommended a short term solution. Plug the brake line with a nail and keep moving until we can find the part we need. The brakes actually work a lot better now, and we should find what we need to fix it properly in Santiago.

All part of the fun, onwards and forwards as always.

Posted from Santiago, Chile.