West of Santiago, the Ski Portillo area is located in one of the worlds most dramatic alpine valleys surrounded by 6,000m peaks, including nearby Aconcagua (6,961m). On the shore of Laguna del Inca, the treeless Ski Portillo resort has 17 pistes totaling 45km spread across 1,235 acres that are served by four lifts with a maximum vertical descent of 760m. This remote resort is well known for it’s challenging on-piste snowboarding and off-piste freeriding. It’s not a place for beginners, but for seasoned riders. Many of the expert pistes are quite steep and very avalanche prone. And, this is a pay to play kind of place - there are plenty of flat traverses and hikes to get to the good terrain. With so much accessible backcountry, this would be a great place to bring the splitboard.
After the long journey here and getting warmed up, you’ll want to start by exploring the variety of steep and powdery routes off the Roca Jack lift. From the top of Roca Jack, there are numerous possible off-piste freeriding routes. First, when there is enough snow, head left off the lift into the steep Toilet Bowl line which has plenty of big drops. Second, from the top, you can hike up for 3 hours to the ridgeline for the descent down the classic Super C Couloir running over 4,000 feet. Third, the Roca summit provides access to the high traverse leading all the way over to the pristine powder fields of El Stadio and Ultima Guebrada.
Across the valley, the top of the Condor Poma lift provides access to the powder fields and chutes of the epic infamous Lake Run. With a challenging return back to the resort, the route descents 3,500 feet to the lake.
Other popular routes include the Primavera Run and the inbounds chutes located to the left of Garganta. Also, make sure to explore the lines off the high traverses from the va-et-vients sling-shot lifts.
After a long day of snowboarding and freeriding at Portillo, you’ll want to grab some apres ski at the infamous Tio Bob’s. It’s a cobblestone refuge with spectacular views.
To access the snowboarding at Portillo Ski Area, fly Chilean Airline LAN into Santiago International Airport (SCL), which is 164km away and takes about 2 hours to drive. There are scheduled shuttles on Saturdays and guests are encouraged to stay for a week in the full-board, on-mountain accommodations. There is not a town at the base, but a self-enclosed accommodation system. In case you're not used to it, keep in mind that the base area elevation is 2880m (9,450 feet).
Tip: If you book on-mountain lodging, the lift pass is usually included in the rate. Some day trippers stay down in Los Andes, but keep in mind the road up may be closed before and after storms.
Overall, Portillo Ski Area is the 2nd most popular snowboard & freeride destination of all 3 snowboarding resorts in Chile.