This post comes from Joe Schmitt, one of our regular customers. Joe lives in Sonoma County and has been a regular customer of ours for a number of years now. Joe helped me connect with Peter Keelty, John Clendenin, the Clendenin Ski Method (http://www.skidoctors.com/ or phone 970.544.0300), and ultmately our association with the Realskiers ski reviews (http://www.expertskier.com/) and their related web site. Joe has spent a good amount of time learning from both John and Peter. He has attended John’s camps since 2002. This report is from his most recent experience.
This was my third trip to Portillo and proved to be one of the most memorable as compared to the others. Conditions were excellent with ample snow coverage giving us the opportunity to explore the many off piste areas accessible by the lift system. The lack of weekday crowds provided for all the skiing we could manage, especially with the lifts operating until 5 PM. Nancy, and I were part of a group of 20 students attending the Clendenin Method ski week in the Andes.
We were split into three groups based upon skiing ability and enthusiasm levels, which were pretty high judging from the fact that most of us were on the hill on the first Saturday afternoon following a long overnight flight from the US.
The coaches consisted of three top level Aspen ski instructors and two time world freestyle champion, John Clendenin.
A typical day would begin with a warm up run or two followed by intense drills emphasizing the skiing techniques particular to this program. During the afternoon we were on the steeps and bumps applying what we had learned from the able teaching staff.
There are some runs that actually drop down from either side of the valley into the frozen lake requiring a hike out and up to access the lifts.
Some of the runs are so steep that the only lift system capable of withstanding the regular avalanches is a cable serviced multi-seat poma device that can be tricky to negotiate since you are riding shoulder to shoulder with four others. We enjoyed the US and Canadian world cup teams training while we were there.
Several members of the group opted for a day of heliskiing making descents from 13000 feet in the shadow of Aconcagua which loomed above at over 22800 feet.
The slopeside hotel supplied us with comfortable rooms and three gourmet meals a day to fuel ourselves for the abundant amounts of vertical taken in. However, the lunchtime vista from a mid-mountain restaurant called “Tio Bob’s” proved to have views too incredible to pass up on clear days.
Finally finishing with a morning ski on the eighth day, we returned to Santiago for a final evening’s dinner with a lot of the people giving testimonial on the past week’s highlights and skiing breakthroughs, or as John likes to call them “epiphanies.” On Sunday, before flying home, we had a chance to take in some much needed hydration and carbohydrate replacement therapy.
I have been skiing with John Clendenin since 2002, attending many of his ski camps and establishing a lasting friendship. Here we are sharing a moment in the South American sun.