Snowboarding in the Andes

At the top of the first run

Last weekend I finally had the opportunity to do something I had wanted to do ever since I learned I was coming to Chile: snowboard in the Andes Mountains. And just in time, too, as spring is right around the corner but lately it’s been 75+ F down in the city! I went with my friend Andres from the University and two of his friends. There are three main ski resorts about an hour and a half from Santiago Centro: El Colorado, La Parva, and Valle Nevado. They are all really close to each other and it’s possible to get a lift ticket that works for each resort since they’re connected by trails. And they’re all at the very top of the mountains so the drive up from the city was absolutely great. We went to the El Colorado resort, which is named after the colored red rocks due to hydrothermal fluid alteration!

Great views below

It was a beautiful day for skiing with a clear blue sky and not-too-cold temperatures hovering around the freezing point. The first thing that struck me was again the lack of trees! I am so used to skiing in the Rockies or the Black Hills with ski runs lined with thick rows of evergreens but here there are just rocks, snow, and more rocks. There also wasn’t much snow, and what little was there was very icy and difficult to get used to right away. And falling really hurt! But the views were so amazing and the day was a ton of fun. I even learned how to use a new ski lift (4th times the charm). It was a bizarre concept to get used to: Someone grabs the large T-shaped bar on a retractable string and sticks it between your legs for snowboarders or behind your butt for skiers, which then tows you up the mountain. It got a little tiring because they use this type of lift a lot and each one was quite a distance up (over a km) but I got the hang of it.

In other news, my geochemistry class with Dr. Reich is now underway as classes officially started last Thursday for spring semester. Our first homework is due next week! I’ve taken a geochemistry course at NDSU but I was happy to see that this course has a slightly different focus. It even has some intro quantum mechanics involved in the first section and will have a large section on isotopes later on.

A few of my friends are also taking an English class so they are excited to practice English with me. I’ve been hard at work writing and rewriting my paper and working on making and fixing graphs and figures. Currently working on the discussion portion, which is the last major portion, so I have been feeling pretty good about my progress. Next week is a pretty big deal in Chile: El Dieciocho, which means the 18th, because September 18 is Chile’s Independence Day. There are no classes next Thursday and Friday but the official day off is Monday the 19th. Apparently there are parties everywhere the entire week leading up to the 18th and we already have two planned at the University. In my next post I’ll let you all know how Chilean’s celebrate Dieciocho!