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.

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