South America quickly became the focus of the ski world when a possible record breaking storm—think nearly 20 feet of powder—popped up on the radar late this summer. The Freeride World Tour even scheduled a last-minute qualifier in September to take advantage of the region’s snowfall.
Just a few hours from Chile’s capital Santiago, the ski retreat of Portillo was in the heart of the storm. Colorado-based photographer Liam Doran had been watching the Weather Channel and asked pro skiers Sven Brunso and Amie Engerbretson to make the trip. Pisco sours, mountain-side hot tubs, good meals, and bluebird days forecasted after the storm made the decision easy. Here, Doran shares a few of his favorite shots and shows what an August ski vacation is supposed to look like.
Amie Engerbretson enjoying the view from Tio Bobs. The restaurant is the only on-mountain dining option at Portillo and is superb. Try the Rogan burger if you aren’t too distracted by the views.
The Portillo Hotel is one of the oldest hotels in South America and is a true classic. The idea of the FIS World Cup is even rumored to have hatched in the bar.
Ski Portillo only has 15 lifts for a huge array of terrain. Capped at 450 skiers a day, lift tickets sell for less than $50, but most people go for the all inclusive option and stay for the week, which can cost anywhere between $1,100 and $4,000.
If not asleep on the job, the local St. Bernard Radska can be found greeting skiers in front of the hotel and keeping watch on his skiing paradise.
Brunso finding perfect powder high above Laguna de Inca and The Portillo Hotel.
Portillo is one of the most perfect pool and hot tub locations any of us have ever seen. The scene at the pool rotates between serene family time and party central. No matter the vibe, it’s the perfect place to enjoy a beer after a full day of skiing.
Powder and blue skies. Brunso is understandably a fan of Portillo.
There’s plenty of history to be found along the basement walls of the Octogon, a less expensive option next to the main hotel with only a few rooms. National teams train here often with great support from the Portillo staff.
The playful terrain surrounding Portillo gives skiers like Brunso ample options for fun lines. And if you’re not a pro skier, there are plenty of runs where both skis can stay on the ground.
Finding powder days after a storm proved to be quite easy. Brunso was the only skier in our group to have skied Portillo before and he had plenty of secret routes stored in the memory bank.
The mountain range Tres Hermanos looms in the background of the hotel. With a base elevation of 9,450 feet, the storms come in cold and keep the powder dry.
After a slow start and some brutal travel delays, Engerbretson was finally able to make some turns.
Engerbretson quickly discovered that the travels delays were worth it.
Getting to Portillo, if all goes smoothly, is actually easier than you might think. Most flights arrive in Santiago in the morning, and after driving a few hours you can be skiing that afternoon.
A central figure in any view at Portillo, Laguna de Inca lies beneath many of the great runs. Here, Brunso and Engerbretson take in the view from atop The Dome.
The route back from the lake run is not your average catwalk.
If you are willing to hike and traverse a few peaks, there are an endless untouched spines surrounding Portillo.