Portillo – Mendoza, Chile
The Best Downhill Skiing Down Under
Upside-down seasons make a jaunt down to South America’s best ski resort a great way to escape the sweltering summer heat up north. Here the western hemisphere’s highest peaks boast the finest deep-powder snow, no lift lines or slope traffic, Chilean hospitality, breathtaking scenery, and ice skating on Laguna del Inca (Inca Lake).
This glitzy ski resort, the site of the 1966 World Alpine Ski Championships (and offseason training destination of the northern hemisphere’s pros), nestles high above the tree line at 9,233 feet, in a bowl surrounded by some of the most spectacular peaks of the Chilean/Argentine Andes (from here you can catch a glimpse of Argentina’s Mount Aconcagua just over the border, the highest in South America at 22,834 feet). Twelve lifts give access to 2,200 acres, some at an elevation of 10,000 feet, while helicopters make thousands of additional acres accessible for unrivaled powder skiing. Some slopes are notoriously impossible, such as the almost- 45-degree-angle Roca Jack, while others accommodate beginners and less-adept skiers. The bright yellow Hotel Portillo is the only game in town and offers a price range for every budget.