“Get your ass down here, it snowed eighteen feet on top,” Rob Kingwill said in his email last Saturday. But no matter how I scrambled, I couldn’t drag my kinked back and half-open eyes into the lobby of the Gran Hotel of Termas de Chillan, Chile until last night (Wednesday). And, yes, Shin Campos and Lukas Huffman were just here. Seems like everyone is doing their turn through South America. It took three flights, two busses, a metro ride in Santiago, and a sixty dollar taxi ride to get here. I basically spent the sixty bucks last night to get schooled by my cab driver on the meaning of life–a small price to pay, I guess. Oh, if you haven’t figured it out (because I hadn’t), it’s a wife and kids. “You (us darned Americans) are self-centered,” he said. “You think of yourselves and not your children and grandchildren.”

The cab driver didn’t get a tip. Anyway, I’m riding powder in September. It’s not exactly powder. It’s more like a combo of wind-blown, pow, and hardpack, what Cartwright calls dual-density. Sick, but not quite the shit you can ride on cruise control.

The Salomon team is here, too, doing thier shooting for next year. They’ve got jumps built all over the mountain–quarters, hips, gaps–and are just waiting for the sun to whoop ass on what’s been a week-long storm. But when they leave tomorrow, those jumps that took hours to build will be fair game.

(Little Brittany Spears break on Chilean MTV and a evening at Club S so I’m picking up the next day.)

By the end of the day, on our last run from the top of the Don Otto lift, I was paying the price for being an office chud. Goddamn legs have straight rotted-out on me. And those blind booters (how do you say “ride by Brail” in Spanish?), and wet-ass snow didn’t make it any easier.

There may not be any photos from this trip, everybody’s been pretty much shut down. But you won’t hear us complaining. We’ll just be forced to ride powder by ourselves because the mountain is totally empty. So empty, there aren’t even any lift ops. Good for low-budge travelers, if you know what I mean. Freeriding is offset by the Gran Hotel, though. Nobody has really checked on the price of this place, but I know it’s over a hundred bucks per person, per night. If I wasn’t poaching the floors of the sponsored riders of the world, I definitely wouldn’t be stayin’ here.

Weather should break tomorrow’ “Dammit Hoy, don’t jinx us.” More later, sorry for the weak photos. You’ll just have to imagine lots of snow and misty trees.