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SKI THE ANDES
The trip: Harrumph to the Hamptons, Nantucket, even the coast of Maine. The coolest way to cool off in August is by kicking off a cornice into South American powder, skis attached to feet and a Pisco Sour lined up for après. In Portillo, Chile, nearly 300 inches of snow blankets the 1,300 acres of bowls, steeps, and chutes from late June to early October. With only the distinctive yellow Hotel Portillo at the base and a handful of guests each day (including members of the U.S. Ski Team, which trains here each summer), the skiing is as pure as the surrounding Andes and Lake of the Incas. To maximize the off-piste opportunities while sharpening your extreme-skiing skills, enroll in a ten-day free-skiing course with the North American Ski Training Center (NASTC), which teaches experienced sliders how to master the toughest terrain. Full days on the slopes are followed by video review sessions, late steak-and-wine dinners, and a few turns on the dance floor.
Why go? To ensure crowd-free conditions, Portillo allows only 450 guests per weeka small fraction of the 65,000 skiers and riders that swarm Vail weekly. Plus, August snow.
What to pack: Your own Ping-Pong paddle, if you want an edge in the annual après-ski tourney that NASTC hosts here every summer.
Difficulty: 6.5 out of 10. You should at least be able to ski groomed blue and some black trails.
Your guides: Chris and Jenny Fellows of Lake Tahoebased NASTC, who've been running Portillo ski camps since 1994.
North American Ski Training Center
Tel: 530 582 4772
Six days of instruction, an eight-day lift ticket, hotels in Portillo and Santiago, and four meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner, and the Chilean afternoon tea called onces) per day, $3,995 per person