The condor glides, descending through the frigid air of the Andes mountain range. Far below, a perfectly shaped, snow-covered volcano cone spits out long wisps of white steam that fade into the electric blue sky. At its feet, a creek bends through a narrow gorge and turns into a river running through the valley. In the distances beyond, the mind can easily picture the ocean's rocky shores, Chile's southern coast. This storybook scene is no hallucination--it's a very real natural spectacle taken in by riders Bjorn Leines, Marius Otterstad, Sylvain Bourbousson and Shayne Pospisil--their backdrop while building a kicker somewhere deep among the countless, jagged peaks of Nevado de Chillan's vast backcountry.
Words and Photography: Eric Bergeri
Chile has a good infrastructure and, compared to most of the other South American countries, it's quite safe. So there's nothing special to worry about when you travel, just don't be stupid.
There are three easy ways to get to Chillán from Santiago:
•Hop on one of the south bounds trains that go from the Estacion Central. Check: terra-sur.cl
•Grab a bus at the "terminal de buses." There are several companies going to Chillán and different classes of bus. Check: terminaldebusessantiago.cl
•Rent a car for about 80 to 100 dollars a day at the Santiago's airport and drive south down the Ruta 5.
Cabanas are the best bet--they will cost you about 140-180 dollars for a six person cabin per night. Don't forget that foreign clients don't pay the country nineteen-percent GST tax.
Cabañas Los Andes--Stu, the owner, is English and very helpful. cabanaslosandes.com
Cabañas Antué-Chile--Really nice and comfortable two-story cabin located right in front of the Snow Pub disco. It makes the way back to bed at sunrise easier. antue-chile.cl
The Mission Impossible Lodge--Another option if you want to stay in Las Trancas. It's more expensive than the cabins, but it also has more to offer including an in-house mini ramp. misnowchile.com