17 Aug dos valles muchas carnes: Chile Day 5
For our last day of riding we decided to split it up between La Parva and Valle Nevado. The weather was totally bluebird and there were some jumps that we didn’t get to hit our last trip to Valle. Plus we wanted to do some highspeed cruisers at La Parva while the corduroy was flawless.
It was nice knowing the area a little bit. We knew our way around enough to head straight for the goods.
I was figuring out when to film…and getting better about metering correctly. Next time I’m going to pack a roll of ASA 25 too. Or get a ND filter. Or both.
We lunched at the same patio as our last time at La Parva. As we walked up we ran into Sebastian (our ride that day). He asked if we could meet at 5:30 instead of 5pm. That was fine by us. All the more time to ride. It was nice interacting with someone who spoke enough English to have a conversation.
After lunch we headed to Valle Nevado. We rode down to the base of the backside and discovered a HUGE lift-line. There was cat-track that went up towards the main ski area and a fair amount of people hiking up it. According to the trail map it was about a 100 meter rise…I figured that we could do it in about a half-hour. The line looked like it would take at least that long. So we decided to walk…at least we’d be moving. About 2/3 of the way up a snowmobile pulled up. He whipped around and talked to us in Spanish about getting a ride. There was two other kids, one of them hopped on the back and the other three of us grabbed onto a tow rope. The order was kid, me, and at the end Will. As we started forward I had doubts if the kid could make it all the way up. He was bent over and barely tracking forward. It wasn’t moments before he started wobbling left/right – like he was getting speed wobbles on a skateboard.
Now this rope wasn’t very long. The distance between the tail of his board and the nose of mine was probably about 18 inches. So when he crashed, I immediately ran into…er…over him.
He caught his front edge and went down in a flash. And there’s a good chance I ran over his head.
Will hung onto the rope and swerved around the carnage. A few meters up the hill the driver realized he’d lost his passengers.
The kid was shaken, but wasn’t bleeding. I asked if he was ok, and he said “yes.” But, he didn’t get up right away so he must have been hurting.
We regrouped and teed up again. This time – we had him get on the end of the rope. If he crashed again it wouldn’t take us all out. In no time at all we were at the top of the hill – ready to ride Valle.
There were a LOT more people here than any day previous. It was kind of a shocker having to stand in lift-lines…but nothing worse than a weekend at Mammoth. In the first line we heard someone yell, in English:
“What up Gangstas!?!? Seattle in the house!”
Heh. We saw a dude throwing up his arms as he got on the chair. I had no idea who he was. Will thought maybe he talked with him a couple days ago in the lodge.
We rode the chair up with a couple Brazilians from San Paulo. One of them had just started snowboarding. The other had been at it a while and had actually lived in Vancouver, BC. He’d been to LA recently too which was kind of cool. When we told him where we were from he mentioned that he’d heard about us from his friend. I guess we rode the chair with him at La Parva? I dunno. Apparently there aren’t too many guys from Seattle riding Tres Valles that week.
Once the light started to fall we broke the Super 8 camera out. We got some good follow runs and a couple hits on film. The jumps were pretty awesome…but the landings were pretty beat. None of them were really steep enough and since they were super packed down – it made sticking the airs a little harder. We rode hard and fast until the end of the day.
As we headed back to La Parva, Ski Patrol was putting up ropes. We were afraid he wasn’t going to let us across – but he did. There was a little bit of walking on the trail back over…not too stoked on that. It’s funny cause the guide book talked about “expert skiers” enjoying the interconnections…but really they were just cat-tracks. And this one wasn’t even down hill.
The light was really starting to fall now. Some of the lifts had already shut down. We took an outer run that we’d done on our last visit here. It was a fun ride down. Even though we couldn’t see too well in the dusk – the grooming at La Parva is so good that we just loosened up our legs and flowed over the terrain. Of course we jamming past some locals on the way.
Riding down to the lodge it really felt like we were the last people on the hill. No one was going up the lifts and no one was coming down. The view was incredible and it felt great knowing that we’d made the most of our last day riding in Chile.
At lodge we relaxed and had a couple of cortados. There were several people on laptops hanging out – naturally they were on facebook.
Sebastian was a little late. We were getting ready to hitch-hike back to Farellones when he walked up. I asked if he wanted to have a beer and he said “why not?” So Sebastian, his friend Francisco, Will and I hung out and chatted. There were both interesting fellows and it was clear they’d know each other for a long time. Sebastian coached skiing and for 10 years had lived the endless winter. Traveling from Europe to Chile and back again. He’d lived in Spain, France, and Italy. Now he runs a kayak guide business in the south of Chile during the “off season.” He was pretty excited to get to experience summers again. Francisco was a pro skier for Atomic.
They asked what we did for work. I told them I was a filmmaker and editor. Will responded that he was a drummer in a metal band. Sebastian remarked to his friend, “son artistas.” That was kind of cool to hear. I guess since my peer group is almost ALL artists I forget that most people do other sorts of work.
That night Jessica made me a birthday dinner. I was truly touched. She not only made a special meal for me, but she had remembered that Friday was my birthday. I’d mentioned it to her in my broken Spanish right after we met…and originally we weren’t going to be staying until my birthday – but our plans changed and she remembered. That’s really emblematic of how welcoming she and Clara were. During our entire visit we felt completely at home. It was like staying with extended family…not what I’d expect in a lodge or hotel – but it really made the experience incredible.
After dinner we walked up La Capilla to Sebastian’s place. He’d invited us over for a BBQ he was having. We got there and the guys were out on the deck, drinking, smoking and talking. They told us to come up to the 2nd floor. The house they were in was really old. Lots of stone, exposed wood, and a strange staircase. We weren’t really sure when one floor ended and the other began – and we weren’t sure if they used European floor numbering or American. Was the ground floor 1 or 0?
Needless to say we walked into the wrong apartment. There was a kid in there who starred at us as he talked on the phone. He didn’t say anything. Only a little odd…
Everyone was super friendly at the BBQ. There were some ski-bum types, a lawyer, a mining engineer, a girl who’d lived in Tahoe, and a French Canadian. And there was meat. A never ending parade of meat whet onto the BBQ – which they cooked with ACTUAL logs. There were making their own coals on the spot. One side of the grill had wood burning and once it became coals they pushed it to the other side under the meat. Very cool.
There was a a fair amount to drink. Coca Cola, Johnny Walker, and this “Troll” beer that a friend of Sebastian’s makes somewhere in the south of Chile.
It was funny listening to the Chileans complaining about other people’s Spanish…Puerto Ricans and Mexicans mostly. That was about all that I could pick up from their Spanish conversations. Luckily for us, a few of them spoke English and chatted with us.
I’m not really sure what time we left…no clocks anywhere of course. It was late, but they were still going strong.
Tomorrow morning we’d be leaving for Santiago.