Friday, June 14, 2013

Cheap Skiing in Chile? How About Free!

For those searching the web for cheap ski vacations, it's hard to beat free.  That is exactly what Nevados de Chillan in Chile is offering today, as they kick off their 2013 ski season.

Known as "la marcha blanca", it's a way for the resort to get the locals excited about the season and to give back to the community.  All you have to do is show up to the ski area and you get a free lift ticket to enjoy a day in the beautiful Chilean Andes.  Learn more about marcha blanca on ski chile .net.

Storm shredding in Nevados de Chillan.  Image by Spencer Francey

Nevados de Chillan, previously run by Hotel Termas de Chillan, has a good mix of beginner, intermediate and advanced runs.  It's one of the few resorts in Chile where you can ski and snowboard powder in the alpine and in the trees.  
Experts that are willing to explore out of the resort boundaries will find endless backcountry options including adventures to distant hotsprings, hot rivers and can summit smoking volcanic craters.  

The resort also has opened up more terrain accessed by their snowcat that seats up to 8 people.  The resort guides take a very laid back approach to cat and snow safety, so it's a good idea to go with an external guide or someone that knows the terrain and snow pack.  Be sure to bring a shovel, probe and avalanche transceiver.

Exploring Chillan's backcountry via snowcat.  Image by David Owen

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

2013 Wanderlust Travel Awards

The UK's premier adventure travel magazine Wanderlust just announced their annual Readers Travel Awards.  Chile received top honors ranking in number 7 as one of the top 10 countries to visit in 2013. So if you are not sure where to go this summer, think no more and join a trip with PowderQuest and visit one of the worlds most exciting countries!

Monday, April 29, 2013

The Life of a PowderQuest Guide

Behind the Beacon 
Words from PowderQuest Guide Mike "Miguel" Gajda

PowderQuest Guide Mike Gejda   Guides commit. Even before the idea of choosing this career path enters the conscious realm, a guide commits to the lifestyle. Often forfeiting many luxuries that others may take for granted, we chose to live simply and take on the deeper challenges that the mountains have to offer. While friends were going into debt to buy that new car, we would scrape together enough money for a new rope, that skookum tent, or a new muffler for the camper van so we could take off on the next great adventure, all of us driven by a wanderlust that never completely fades.

Becoming a guide is not easy and it takes plenty of time and experience to get through the exam process and become certified; usually far more than most of us originally imagined.

First, there are a number of prerequisites just to qualify for the program; first aid courses, advanced technical avalanche certifications, weather analysis courses, and rescue skill courses to name a few. 

Once you have those, you face the competition; a lot of guys and gals with all those things but plenty more miles in the mountains. Rock climbing, ice climbing, alpine routes, big multi-day and multi-week tours and traverses. So you keep training, adventuring into the mountains, building the resume. This weeds out the less committed. If you don't love it, you won't match up against the others.

After acceptance on the training and mentorship program, there are years of hard work and exam preparation; a process that reveals what becoming a professional is about and that, like any profession, experience is the currency of the trade. Everyday out there, there is new learning to be garnered, absorbed, and melded into our individual bodies of knowledge and experience. The learning never stops and every guest has a part in it.

Throughout it all, we maintain a love of adventure and travel, whether it be in the pursuit of mountain challenges or other pastimes like surfing, wind sports, biking, flying, .....

The guys and gals of Powderquest have an addiction to world travel in the name of adventure, but with an a particular penchant towards South America. We love this continent and think that you will too !!

One of the things we take pride in at PowderQuest is our guides. We believe that our highly certified guide staff represent our vision to the fullest. From ensuring your safety high in the Andes mountains to helping you order your first Empanada the PowderQuest guide staff is always their to provide assistance when needed on your adventure. 

Our guides are some of the best in the world and Mike Gajda is right on top of that list. A Canadian Heli Ski Guide for almost 20 years and even more years of experience guiding remote peaks from the Andes to Alaska, Mike has been a PowderQuest guide since 2003 and loves to share his wanderlust for adventure with our guests. 

Check out our other guides here  The Guides of PowderQuest

Friday, January 18, 2013

Valle Nevado Discount Packages for 2013

Looking to ski or snowboard South America for the 2013 season? Well this is your chance to book a full unguided Valle Nevado package at a major discount for a limited time.

Book a 2013 Valle Nevado Package through PowderQuest and get up to a 35% discount on packages including lift tickets, lodging, breakfast and dinner as well as access to the hot tub, gym and more. 

Spaces are very limited and will fill quickly. Email or give us a call at 1-888-565-7158 for more information and to get a quote today. 

The following restrictions apply:
  • Valid for all three hotels at Valle Nevado, using 2013 rates (with the exception of August 2nd - 16th when the offer is only available at the Hotel Tres Puntas)
  • Valid for double occupancy.
  • Cannot be combined with other promotions
  • Reservations must be paid in full by March 15th, 2013
  • Blackout dates: July 26th - August 16th in the Hotel Valle Nevado and Hotel Puerta Del Sol
  • All reservations subject to availability
  • This offer is good for residents of the USA, Canada and the UK only
  • All reservations are subject to regular restrictions according to the season

Want to see what Valle Nevado has to offer for terrain? Check out this video.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Happy Holidays!

Happy Holidays from the whole PowderQuest family! We hope you are enjoying time with family and friends and hopefully getting some powder turns wherever you are.

Experiences are one of the few presents that give back. Consider a PowderQuest adventure for that special someone and give the gift that lasts a lifetime.

Until January 15th, put a deposit down on any PowderQuest 2013 adventure and we will send a Dakine Heli ProII pack in holiday red to the address of your choosing. While supplies last.

Click HERE to take a look at the 2013 PowderQuest lineup of South America adventures.

Send us an email at or give us a call at 1-888-565-7158 with any questions.

Best wishes for a happy new year!


Thursday, October 11, 2012

Early Season Sale on 2013 Las Lenas Packages

Huge 30% off sale on packages to ski and snowboard 
the legendary Las Lenas, Argentina for 2013.

A PowderQuest client getting the goods during an August 2011 trip to Las Lenas, Argentina

For a limited time if you book a 2013 unguided trip to Las Lenas with PowderQuest you will receive a 30% discount on the whole package. That is 30% off lift tickets, lodging and meals. This is the best deal you will find to ski or snowboard Las Lenas for 2013 so don't delay. Packages are based on availability at the time of booking.

Below is a breakdown of some sample prices for one of the four hotel options. Please contact us for rates and availability at the Acuario, Aries and Piscis hotels. Family packages are available as well as 2 and 5 day packages also at a 30% discount.  Price varies depending on what room you book (single, double, triple, quad), what hotel you book in, and when you plan to travel.

Hotel Escorpio

7 night package - Check in Saturday - Check out Saturday
All prices are in US Dollars and are per person

*7 Nights Accomodation
*Breakfast and Dinner
*8 Days of Lift Tickets
*Use of Hotel Facilites

Double Mountain View Room
(Dates listed below are the date of hotel Check-in)
July 27th--------Normal Price $2237 / Sale Price $1566
August 3rd-----Normal Price $2237 / Sale Price $1566
August 10th---Normal Price $2237 / Sale Price $1566
August 17th---Normal Price $2073 / Sale Price $1451
August 24th---Normal Price $2043 Sale Price $1430
August 31st---Normal Price $1986 / Sale Price $1390
Sept 7th-------Normal Price $1879 / Sale Price $1315
Sept 14th-----Normal Price $1767 / Sale Price $1237

Triple Mountain View Room
(Dates listed below are the date of hotel Check -in)
July 27th-------Normal Price $1969 / Sale Price $1378
August 3rd----Normal Price $1969 / Sale Price $1378
August 10th---Normal Price $1969 / Sale Price $1378
August 17th---Normal Price $1824 / Sale Price $1277
August 24th---Normal Price $1798 / Sale Price $1259
August 31st---Normal Price $1748 / Sale Price $1224
Sept 7th--------Normal Price $1654 / Sale Price $1158
Sept 14th------Normal Price $1555Sale Price $1089


In addition we are seeing very affordable rates to fly to from the USA to Mendoza (transferring through Buenos Aires). For example JFK-Mendoza is starting at $1000 RT August 1st-10th including all taxes and fees on LAN/TAM airlines. A shuttle transfer from Mendoza to Las Lenas will be needed at a separate cost. We would be happy to put you in touch with our travel agent for a flight quote for your specific dates.

These packages will go quickly. If you are interested in booking this special offer please submit an inquiry through THIS LINK.

Still not convinced? Check out this video from the First Ascent Team from their product testing trip to Las Lenas in 2011.

Feel free to contact PowderQuest at or by phone at 1-888-565-7158 with any questions 

*1st payment of 30% must be submitted when making reservation
*2nd payment of 40% must be made within 30 days of booking
*final payment due 30 days before the start of the reservation

Friday, September 21, 2012

Ride Argentina with Shin Campos - Part 2 Chapelco

Here is the second of three installments on the blog about the first annual Ride Argentina snowboard trip with lead guide Shin Campos. If you would like to start at the beginning and missed Part 1 - Cerro Bayo, just follow THIS LINK. 

Our clients are always pushing us to chronicle the amazing adventures offered by PowderQuest. Our feeling is that the PowderQuest product needs to be experienced to be fully understood. Hopefully this series of blog posts will give you the reader a glimpse into the magic of skiing and riding with PowderQuest in South America even in less than optimal snow conditions.

In this post the group packs up the van after two full days taking Cerro Bayo for everything it was worth and heads to San Martin De Los Andes, home to the Cerro Chapelco Resort and stop number two on the Argentina Snowboard Adventure.

Logan saying his goodbyes to his new friend at the hotel in Villa Agnostura
Part of the adventure on any trip in any part of the world is seeing and experiencing new places and making new friends. The old saying, the journey is the destination, is quite true on a PowderQuest trip where you get to see a wide variety of places and meet some amazing individuals, all connected by very unique road trips.

The cameras came out as our van embarked on what is known as one of the most scenic drives in all of Argentina, La Ruta De 7 Lagos (The 7 lakes route). Although it is one of the most scenic drives out there, it is also arguably the roughest "road" we took the whole trip. The group took it in stride and soaked up the views while spotting wildlife and eating fresh empandas.

Capturing the adventure with the Drift HD camera

The Wild West, Patagonia style.
As we pulled into the hotel in San Martin De Los Andes, the group was able to see what makes this town so special as the light faded over the harbor. San Martin de Los Andes is a true ski town with locals and tourists alike walking around in ski gear, window shopping and trying to decide between the myriad of amazing restaurants dishing out some of the best meals in Argentina.

The view that greeted us with the last of the 7 lakes as the van made it's way into San Martin De Los Andes
PowderQuest hotel in San Martin De Los Andes. This place is a registered historical landmark and very special.
Classic stone fireplace in the living room. This hotel is consistently a PowderQuest client favorite!
The crew decided to have a semi-early dinner (for Argentina). The choice was the local pizza place called Pizza Cala known for their rocking music, amazing brick oven pizzas, salads and party atmosphere. After a fun and relaxing 2 hour dinner, we made our way back to the hotel to get some rest and get ready for our first day shredding the Chapelco Resort.

A rare serious moment with Alex, John and Max at Pizza Cala
Window shopping in San Martin De Los Andes takes on a whole new meaning
As the van pulled into the Chapelco parking lot, the hearts of the group sank a bit as the reality of the lack of snow became apparent. Locals were saying that this was the lowest they had seen snow levels in their memory. With our first look at the base area and lower part of the mountain we could see why. Thankfully this group had one of the best attitudes of all time and we made the best out of the situation. Heck it was a bluebird day with the sun shining and we were about to go snowboarding at a brand new resort... in August!

Perspective is important in life and it is important to be grateful for new experiences and opportunities. This group embodied that philosophy throughout the entire trip. Shin and Jamie led a wax scraping session at the base as a follow up to the wax clinic the night before to make the boards run as smooth and as fast as possible. As we headed up on the 80's style gondola, spirits were high and everyone was stoked to check out what Chapelco was all about.

The vintage gondola is a Chapelco Resort signature
Heading up the quad on a bluebird day surrounded by the magical power of nature.
Ronnie, Shin and Max loving life in the backbowls of Chapelco
Annie making her way through the enchanted forest for yet another lap
For the afternoon the group split up with me taking John, Annie and Jamie to explore and conquer the chutes and bowls up top. Shin headed off with Ronnie, Max, Logan and Ken proceeding to ride switch, jump off anything they could find and in general absolutely ripping around the entire resort with the sun shining strong.

I had an amazing time with John, Annie and Jamie and felt nothing short of a proud father. We made laps and I watched them attack and own steep lines, thread through rocks, get in the air and negotiate moguls the size of VW bugs. Progression is the name of the game and everyone stepped up their game big-time. It was awesome and our crew milked the day until the lifts closed still wanting more and smiling from ear to ear. 

John steps up to one of the steepest lines he has ever ridden with an all time backdrop. He crushed it.
Jamie makes short work of a long, steep run with perfect form in very challenging snow
conditions. Nice work Jamie, you killed it!
Annie all smiles in the backbowls after consistently stepping up her
game every run, all afternoon. Amazing progression.

Apres time after an amazing first day at Chapelco
On the way back to the hotel, there was a group vote and we all agreed that we were overdue to head out and experience some Argentine nightlife. Dinner was scheduled for a bit later than normal at a steak house called Bamboo with a gameplan to hit the town immediately after the meal. The crew recharged  with huge steaks, tried new things like Morcillas and of course consumed plenty of Malbec wine and the biggest beers we could purchase. Everyone was stoked after an epic day and the group recaped their first experience at  Chapelco with stories and lots of laughs. 

One of the best things about San Martin De Los Andes is the ability to walk anywhere in town, a feature the group took full advantage of.  After a a big night of  ping pong, beers and shots at the local snowboard hangout El Moro, great food at Bamboo and plenty of laughs we headed back to our hotel to catch a few hours of sleep and get ready for our last day at Cerro Chapelco.

Shin, Luke and Jamie sampling some adult beverages
Max getting some lessons on Asado techniques from the master at Bamboo
Annie tries to talk Ken into being on her pingpong team while John drops some knowledge on Luke 
Annie and Max proceed to dominate the table and stare down a potential competitor at the bar
For the final day at Chapelco we awoke to a misty overcast day with everyone feeling the effects of our night out on the town. After a breakfast in the hotel complete with eggs cooked to order, fresh squeezed orange juice, great coffee and a huge variety of freshly baked goodies, the group got our gear on and loaded into the van to head to the mountain. 

Some of the best days snowboarding can actually happen while riding in the rain and the whole crew rallied once again with great attitudes despite the overcast weather and hangovers. We spent the morning working on riding and jumping switch while enjoying having the slopes to ourselves. 

Ronnie and Alex were pumped to check out the terrain park and work on jumping, so I headed over with them to post up for a couple of hours. Both Ronnie and Alex pushed it hard, hiking lap after lap, getting real time feedback and putting it into action. Huge improvement and progression from both riders. Ronnie took to the air again and again, fine tuning her body position and sticking every single landing on the rhythm section of medium sized features. Alex was straight sending it on the large features, taking flight in the Chapelco forest. 

Misty start to Day 2 at Chapelco with the mountain all to ourselves
Ronnie getting it done in the Cerro Chapelco terrain park!
Ronnie with a perfect landing on the second jump of the rhythm section
Heading in for lunch at Rancho Manolo
Everyone had a good time and made the most out of the weather and conditions as we wrapped up the day and packed up the van. The crew was tired from the previous night's festivities and four straight days of straight riding. While the energy level was low, spirits were high as we got our gear from the hotel and embarked from San Martin De Los Andes for the final stop on the adventure, San Carlos De Bariloche and the mighty Cerro Catedral.

A final view of the San Martin De Los Andes harbor

Hotel dog ... who loved fetching rocks
Jamie and Ken rating empandas
Lift are open until 5pm in Argentina! 
John finds his happy place
Ronnie reflects on an epic day
Alex all smiles after a full day at Chapelco
Shoreline Tahoe Represent!
Pimpin ain't easy
Chapleco's trees against a bluebird sky are simply amazing
Our view for the daily drive up to Chapelco was epic!
Jamie riding it out!
Lack of snow but no lack of positive energy from the crew!
Name that volcano!
Coffee Break
Asado at Bamboo
Annie looking out form the top of Chapelco
El Moro nightlife

Koi pond in the back of the hotel
Despite the lack of snow, everyone had an amazing time at Chapelco
Logan has some serious skills on the guitar!