Portillo Ski Resort, Chile – overview
Portillo is a ski resort in South America , located in the Andes Mountains of Chile . In the Valparaiso area , it is close to the town of Los – Andes , and 160 km (100 miles) by car from Santiago . Its altitude is from 2880 m (9450 ft) above sea level , and the highest ascent reaches 3310 m (10,860 ft). The lowest ascent loads at 2548 m (8,360 ft), giving an elevation drop of 762 m (2,500 ft). Ski Portillo has 35 named runs and 14 elevators. It is owned and operated by the Purcell family who have a network of hotels in Chile, most notably in the Tierra hotels including the Tierra Atacama in San Pedro de Atacama.
Plans for the construction of the ski resort were developed in the 1930s. Construction began in 1942 and the ski area was opened in 1949. Several of the elevators on the west side of the valley were destroyed by avalanches in 1965 and were rebuilt in time for Portillo to host the Alpine World Ski Championships in August 1966. These championships were marked by the appearance of Jean-Claude Killy, who won gold medals in alpine and combined events. Portillo has since become one of the main destinations for ski racers to train during the northern hemisphere summers and hosts the national ski teams of Austria, Italy and the United States.
The top of the mountain (Ojos de Agua) rises to 4222 m (13,852 ft). Among the peaks include Los Tres Hermanos at 4,751 m (15,587 ft) and La Paraya at 4,831 m (15850 ft). Aconcagua , the highest peak in the western and southern hemispheres, is nearby at 6,961 m (22,838 ft), higher than any peak in Europe , Africa and North America ; only the Himalaya , Karakoram and Tian Shan in Asia are higher.
Table of Contents
Portillo is close to the border between Chile and Argentina in Paso Los Libertadores .
Time of year
The ski season in Portillo usually lasts from mid-June to early October, permit conditions.
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Ski resorts in Chile. Portillo
Portillo is Chile’s oldest ski resort and, by extension, one of the most reputable in South America. It is a 2-hour drive from Santiago and is well known among winter sports enthusiasts, who come here every year not only to ski, but also to watch international competitions held on the picturesque white-white slopes.
Portillo is located at the foot of Mount Aconcagua, in the central part of the Andes mountain system, in the area of a beautiful lake. Its main advantage is the dozens of trails of varying degrees of difficulty, suitable for experienced skiers and beginners alike.
The maximum altitude difference on the slopes of Portillo is just over 800 m and the highest skiing area is located at an altitude of about 3300 m above sea level. The longest slope is 2200 meters long. The local time is 7 hours behind Moscow time in winter and 6 hours in summer. The time zone is UTC-4 and UTC-3 in summer. The official website is www.skiportillo.cl.
A brief historical overview
The first skiers who began to develop the local slopes, were British builders in 1910, who were building a railroad in this area. In the 1930s the first rope tow elevator appeared here, and in the middle of the century there was a hotel, which is when Portillo actually became a ski resort. In 1962 it was bought by two wealthy businessmen from North America, after which the ski center grew even larger and 4 years later hosted its first World Ski Championship. Since then its popularity has steadily increased and attendance has steadily risen. Today, Portillo is still a success and can accommodate up to 600 people at a time.
The winter season begins at the resort in June and lasts until October. The average temperature during this time of year ranges from -2 to -10 degrees, occasionally dropping even lower. Since precipitation in the Chilean Andes falls quite abundantly, there are almost no problems with natural snow cover, and the number of sunny days is about 80% of the whole season, so skiing is rarely pleasant and comfortable. However, it is recommended to check the weather forecast for the next days before departure, as the Andes climate sometimes presents real surprises.
How to get there
The distance between Santiago and Portillo is more than 160 kilometers and can be covered by bus in about 2 hours. It is also possible to take a cab or rent a car in case you intend to travel independently in the region.
Alpine skiing tracks
Among the experts of skiing is particularly popular steep slope of the Rock de Jack, which allows you to get a good dose of adrenaline. For beginners there are numerous routes on gentle slopes. The pride of Portillo is the local ski school, which has a reputation as one of the best in the world. Over the years, four Olympic champions have worked in its management team.
Besides pistes for skiing, the slopes here have areas for snowboarding, heliboarding, bordercross, cross-country skiing and other winter disciplines. As in other similar centers of international level, there are special snow plants to control the thickness of the snow cover, equipment rentals, discounts on ski passes, and the areas are connected to each other with modern ski elevators. The hotel complex includes only one, but very capacious hotel, with all the facilities and staff for almost fifty people.
In addition to skiing, you can enjoy outdoor heated swimming pool, sauna, indoor ice rink, gym and gymnasium, massage room, ski equipment repair shop. There is also a restaurant, disco, bar, cinema, and several stores.
Culinary diversity of the hotel complex can impress even the most sophisticated gourmets. Fish and meat dishes, vegetable salads, exotic fruits, drinks and desserts form the menu of the main hotel restaurant. In addition, for particularly fastidious guests, dishes are prepared to order.
Portillo’s stores and stalls display a wide variety of souvenirs and merchandise, from sports equipment and leather goods, to clothing and jewelry.
The important advantages of this resort are its small population and the abundance of uncluttered space that allows tourists to ski in absolute comfort, without feeling the intrusive breath of the neighbors on the piste. Staying on the slopes of Portillo can deliver a lot of positive emotions and contribute to a healthy appreciation of skiing vacation the Chilean way.
Ski Portillo ski resort in the Chilean Andes
Ski Portillo ski resort can safely be called one of the most beautiful in Chile. Ski Portillo is located at the foot of the famous Aconcagua mountain (Aconcagua 6961 m) on the border with Argentina and is 160 km far from Chilean capital Santiago. In comparison La Parva ski resort is only 50 km away from Santiago.
Like all ski resorts, Portillo exists according to the laws of seasonality – it comes alive in winter from June to September, and freezes for all the other months of the year, welcoming them behind boarded-up doors. I’ve always loved coming to popular places in the off-season, when they look a little abandoned and sad. But all the beauty is yours alone.
Just before and after the season, when there is still/already little snow, Portillo has its advantages, even if they don’t apply to the joys of winter sports like skiing, snowboarding and heliskiing. What makes Ski Portillo ski resort so visually special in the low season is the blue lagoon of Inka, spilling out among the mountains in front of the main building. Around September, the lagoon shows up again in all its beauty, but still surrounded by snow-capped mountains. What a wonderful sight!
I came to Ski Portillo in October, since I spent almost the entire Chilean winter and I wanted to catch snow and throw snowballs. Portillo turned out to be the only ski resort in the closest radius to Santiago that still had snow in central Chile, and that seemed like a good enough reason for a 160 km trip. The road to Portillo is international, so at times it is hampered by large trucks running between Chile, Argentina, and Brazil, and sometimes you have to obediently weave behind the trucks.
By the way, on the territory of Portillo itself in a month like October, you have to be careful – because of the underthaw you can fall unnoticed into a deep hole, so warning signs were posted everywhere, and resort workers did not let close to the lagoon.
Ski Portillo Ski Resort on a low season and overcast day
One of the chalets
Serpentine to Portillo Resort leading to Argentina
And this is what Ski Portillo looks like in high season
Practical information on Portillo
When to go
High season: from July 2 to August 5. Low season: mid-June to July, mid-August to September.
Portillo has equipment rentals, but no clothing rentals. The bulk of the rentals of everything you need for skiing are located on Las Condes, on the way to the Camino a Farellones mountain road (further down this road are the ski resorts of La Parva, Valle Nevado).
The price of a 1-day pass to Portillo for an adult is CLP 42,000 (USD 64) in the high season and CLP 31,000 in the low season. A full season pass costs 710,000 pesos.
One group lesson costs CLP 27.000 (USD 41), a private lesson CLP 58.000
Portillo also has full 1 week and mini-week packages. The package includes accommodation, 4 meals a day, access to the slopes and elevators. Week: from USD 2150 in the low season and from USD 3950 in the high season. Mini week (4 days and 3 nights): from USD 1086 in the low season to USD 1436 in the high season. Prices are based on a family hotel room, full price table here.