Chile: That Skinny Betch

You know just by looking at her that she’s got a lot to offer.  She has it all.  But her amazing peaks, sandy shores and deep woods are only the beginning.  She can make you hot.  She speaks Spanish.  She knows how to party, and has enough of a cold side to keep it interesting. While she gets overlooked at times because of her sexy neighbor, Argentina, Chile is the girl next door you can’t help fall in love with.

When I proposed the idea of chasing winter in Chile to my four girl ski squad, I never expected the response would be an overwhelming, “hell yeah!!”  Following a long year of adulting, full of seemingly endless adversities, a squad trip was what we all needed. After a few months of planning and coming across a perfectly timed flight deal, Andrea, Chelsea, Julie and I were ready to go!  Julie and I would take on the desert before the team would reconvene in Santiago and prepare to hit the snow together!

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Mountain Betches be travellin’ // Photog: Jess MacNeil-Mah

San Pedro de Atacama, Chile’s hottest spot, was the first destination on the list.  This town serves as the main hub for most travel and exploration of the Atacama Desert, the world’s driest desert.  Fun fact (because we’re all truly nerds at heart): one time the Atacama Desert did not receive any precipitation for 14 years! That is the longest dry period ever recorded. Parched much? Someone should have got that betch a Perrier.  With miles of sand dunes and valleys surrounding the town, it honestly felt as though we had ventured onto Tatooine.  Unfortunately, we didn’t bump into any Chilean Jedis.  Dang.   

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Tatooine? Or Valle de la Luna? Same, Same, But Different // Photog: Jess MacNeil-Mah

We played mega tourists in Vallée de la Luna (Moon Valley) and Vallée de la Muerte (Death Valley). We climbed the dunes, sand boarded, took too many pictures and even licked the salt rocks (just to, you know, make sure they weren’t lying about them being salt…)

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Ridin’ that sweet, sweet, hot, grabby sand // Photog: Jess MacNeil-Mah with the GoPro “narcisstick”

At 4320m above sea level, El Tatio geysers are the highest geysers in the world.  What a sight.  Those steamy betches were worth the 5:00 AM wake up.

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It’s gettin’ hot out here, but actually, put on more clothes, it was freezing. // Photog: Jess MacNeil-Mah

As much as we love the heat, we are definitely winter babes.  A few days in the sun had us itching to get skiing!  So, we changed route and headed to Portillo; a resort known for world class skiing, fine dining, the va et vient lift (a 5 person poma, yep I said it 5) and one crazy ass drive to get there.   Let’s just say the journey in our car up the mountain was almost more adventurous than our entire stay at Portillo.  If the wild road composed of multiple hair pin switchbacks wasn’t terrifying enough, our delay in getting there due to road closure confusion added to the chaos. Lucky for us, Chileans are extremely friendly and helpful. A man from Santiago became our knight in shining armor and ensured we navigated around the road blocks.  He even helped us rent chains for our tires (so hardcore, right?).

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We definitely drank it blue // Photog: Jess MacNeil-Mah

Laguna del Inca and the alpine runs surrounding the resort weren’t the only sights to be seen in Portillo.  Pachamama (Mother Nature) must be a single lady because she dished out good skiing and even better looking boys.  We happened to be staying on the hill while part of the U.S. Ski team was training and a crew from GoPro was “working” there.  Needless to say, there was no shortage of eye candy and hot mountain bros.

Those jacuzzi's weren't the only things here making us hot // Photog: Jess MacNeil-Mah
Those jacuzzi’s weren’t the only things here making us hot // Photog: Jess MacNeil-Mah
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Taking the scenic route back to the eye candy store // Photog: Julie Laws

Next stop, Santiago! The ski squad reunited and it felt so good!

Better than Manolo's // Photog: Chelsea Maaia
Better than Manolo’s // Photog: Chelsea Maia

If you want to draw attention to yourself in Santiago, be a group of four white girls.  If you want to draw more attention to yourself in Santiago, be a group of four white girls wearing accidentally matching jackets.  We got asked constantly if we were a professional ski team.  We obviously said si.

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Somos un equipo de esquí canadiense. Yes, to answer your question, that does say, “we are a Canadian ski team” // Photog: Andrea Grigg
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The city doesn’t look so bad on these Mountain Betches // Photog: Chelsea Maia selfie

A couple of days in Santiago showed Chile’s kooky side. We made a day trip out to La Parva for some more resort skiing to warm up our legs; but we found ourselves in the city for the country’s biggest holiday of the year, Dieciocho.  This is the Chilean Independence Day and boy, do the locals know how to get festive! While they like to eat dinner and party late on the regular, this is even more true during the annual celebration.  Us Canadians are used to having a successful night out with the girls finish at 2:00 am.  However, Chileans start rolling into the club right when the ‘ugly lights’ would be coming on back home.  Since we all suffer from a bad case of FOMO, we tried to fit in and embrace this Chilean party style.  This resulted in us pulling an all-nighter the evening before our ski guide, Donny, picked us up.  Oh man, none of us were looking our best that morning.  Whoops. Sorry, not sorry Donny.  It was worth it.

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#partyfilter #justkiddingnofilter #cantstopwontstop // Photog: Chelsea Maia’s rad dancing selfie skills

The following 10 days were the highlight of the trip.  We twerked (once in our own private night club). We sang (lots of Beibs, of course). We laughed (because we’re hilarious, duh). We drank too many delicious (but dangerous) Pisco Sours. We hot springed (because the only thing that’s more fun than skiing is an après beer and hot spring dip). We ate lots of empanadas, (there like Chilean pizza pops, uhhmazing).  Did we mention that we SKIED?!

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Did I mention we’re also really good at photoshop 🙂 // Photog: Jess MacNeil-Mah
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Got a taste of the Chilean brown pow. It’s mainly just twigs // Photog: Chelsea Maia

We travelled south from Santiago to tiny towns where we stayed in the cutest cabins and hotels.  I’m not going to lie, we were spoiled.  Mainly by Donny (read all about how much we love him here).  But there was no shortage of awesome skiing! We found first tracks, slushy corn skiing and breath taking scenery. We had summit dance parties, silly slogs, and even a bit of pow!

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Showing the log gap who’s boss // Photog: Julie Laws

Due to weather, we were unable to summit as much as originally planned.  When you’re skiing volcanos, and are well above any tree line, an overcast day means no visibility on the peak.  This makes for dangerous and less-than-fun skiing.  Trust us, it’s like trying to traverse down a steep slope in a ping pong ball.

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There’s nothing to see here. Literally. // Photog: Chelsea Maia

But, to be honest, the fact that we didn’t crest as many tips (volcanos not men) as we hoped for, made the one we did summit (volcano not man) even more special.

September 28th, 2015 will always have a special place in our hearts.  Not only was it my champagne birthday (I turned 28 on the 28th), it was one of the few days we saw the sun!    

We went to bed the night before with a dismal forecast in place for the next day.  We were all expecting to leave Chile having not touched the top of a volcano. However, when we opened our eyes that morning, our hearts were warmed at the sight of the sun. From the moment we readied our packs and put on our boots, we didn’t stop smiling.

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Is this like real life? // Photog: Chelsea Maia

Volcan Mocho-Choshuenco, you popped our volcano cherry.  We summited and skied down the crater of that betch. While drinking champagne.  No biggie!

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The only way to celebrate a champagne birthday // Photog: Chelsea Maia

The following day was hard for all of us – the squad parted ways.  There may have been some tears shed, but we knew that this would be the first of many trips us broads, take abroad together. Andrea and Julie left to head back to Canada. 

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One of many 5 person selfies // Photog: whoever’s arm was the longest

Chels and I traveled via Donny chauffeur for 4 hours, via bus for 10 hours, via rental car through Santiago rush hour (not recommended) and onto the highway for 3 hours to arrive in the quaint, little surf town of Pichilemu.  Aka, Pichi. The quiet, relaxed vibe of Pichi was exactly what we needed to end off a multi-faceted, fun-filled trip. We relaxed in cafes (did you know a Nutella Mochaccino is a thing?!).  We surfed (Chelsea stood up on her first wave ever, first try, stupid betch). We continued our routine of eating too many empanadas (usually multiple times a day as we still weren’t able to acclimatize ourselves to Chilean supper time of 10:00 pm).  Side note: we are now empanadas connoisseurs.  Not only can we provide the history of the empanada in Chile, we can offer recipes and can tell you we prefer horneado to frito).

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Behind every great idea is a large cup of coffee…and maybe a bit of nutella…okay, a lot of nutella // Photog: Chelsea Maia

We managed to befriend some surf bums (if you could have seen these hotties, you would understand why). We attended our first ever Chilean house party (they’re surprisingly similar to our own, but for some reason involve baking potatoes…).  We got living room tattoos (by a professional Brazilian tattoo artist, not as sketchy as it sounds). We named way too many street dogs.  This may have resulted in bringing one home. Oops. More to come on that later.  Basically, it is understood that Chels and I are no longer allowed to travel without supervision.

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Insert some lame cliche comment about beauty… // Photog: Chelsea Maia

With there being so much left unseen in Chile, we decided to continue our drive and check out Valparasio.  It was named by National Geographic as one of the top places to visit and is well known for its art, graffiti, and old cable cars winding up the city’s many hills.

Playing Mozart...I lied, it was Biebs // Photog: Chelsea Maaia
Playing Mozart…I lied, it was Biebs // Photog: Chelsea Maia

While the graffiti was really neat, the hustle and bustle of the city was too much for us mountain betches.  We immediately missed Pichi.  Our lungs craved the salty air and our spirits longed for the tranquil atmosphere.  After one night in Valparasio, we repacked our bags and headed back to Pichi.  Thank goodness we did! For it was shortly after our return that we met Hermano, the newest and only man currently in my life (seriously gents, I’m single and ready to spoon)! While we went down to Chile prepared to return home with many stories and souvenirs, I never imagined one of them would be a dog.

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Pichi Perfect // Photog: Jess MacNeil-Mah

As we mentioned right at the beginning, it’s almost impossible not to fall head over heels for Chile.  We sure did.  The diverse landscapes, the culture, the people.  Chile is the kind of place the true wanderluster almost hates; as much as you want to travel and see the other parts of the world, you can’t help but think of returning to that same, special place.  Chile, she’s a lengthy, skinny seductive betch that’ll grab a piece of your soul and never let go.

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The ski squad doing what they do second best (we’re better at skiing, but not by much) // Photog: Donny Roth

Check out our Instagram or Facebook for even more photos!

For more details on our backcountry ski adventure check out our post about our guide Donny and check out Chile Powder Adventures

For more a detailed itinerary or for any recommendations about what we did in Chile, email us @ mountainbetches@gmail.com

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