Nevados Chillan — Journey to the King

Post by blogger | August 29, 2014      

While the boys saga their way to Fitz Roy, my South American journey is a pampered press trip courtesy of Marker. The Kool-Aid up here in the Chilean mountains is made from grapes and tends to be a problem if you drink too much, but I’m sure it is having positive effect as well. The details of this will soon be revealed, but I thought I’d file a general TR from our first day of binding testing wherein we battled 70 mph winds in perfect icing conditions, skiing both ice and breakable crust. They couldn’t have planned a better evaluation program. Or maybe they did. Check it out.

The King in his cloak.  The name is in the wild so can be revealed; saying anything else would get me black listed worldwide, so I'll not.

The King in his royal cloak. The name is in the wild so can be revealed, saying anything else would get me black listed worldwide, so I’ll not. And for good measure I’ll redact the name on homepage just in case these guys get touchy about what’s published.

View from the lodge includes blatent banner advertising, something we are quite familiar with around here.

View from the lodge includes blatant banner advertising, something we are quite familiar with around here. That’s Nevado Chillan out there, quite a vast area you’re only seeing a bit of. Edit: Come to think of it, the binding name is out now, so here we go.

A van picked us up at the airport.

A van picked us up at the airport. I’m pinching myself to see if I’m actually down here. The air travel went surprisingly well for me, though some of the group’s luggage was temporarily lost. I was amused when I moved from my newish jet hop to Dallas to a LAN jet that looked ok on the outside (no holes), but had obviously held massive numbers of people for years on the inside. How did I know? Immediate allergy attack upon entering the plane. Luckily the histamines subsided and I enjoyed talking to a few folks from Chile, as well as chatting up guide Martin Volken who’s visiting here as a retailer. A few glasses of wine and a bit of modern chemicals sent me off to the land of nod for the whole flight. The flight attendant had even been kind enough to stuff the visa paperwork behind my head. We were landing by the time it was filled out. Santiago was classic. All you have to do there is stand around looking like a bewildered gringo in a bright colored puffy jacket. Doing so will get you that guy who seems to always show up and lead you through the baggage recheck and even cut a few lines. Happened to me 30 years ago, and happened yesterday. Consistency is a pleasure.

Heading out for ski tour from Roccanegra lodge.

Heading out for ski tour from Roccanegra lodge. The intent was a chairlift ride up the Nevados Chillan resort and then a ski tour at altitude, but everything was closed due to high winds. So we slogged up the resort and punched into the alpine above until a stiff Patagonian breeze began blasting razor sharp ice crystals into our cheeks.

This should look familiar to many of you world traveler skiers, classic Chillan. Nice terrain if the weather cooperates.

This should look familiar to many of you world traveler skiers, classic Chillan. Nice terrain if the weather cooperates. Of interest, our hosts made it clear before we began touring that there is no ‘organized official mountain rescue’ and we’d better watch our own behinds. Not exactly the Alps, but just as beautiful and snow is snow.

Into the winds of Patagonia.

Into the winds of Patagonia (we’re not exactly in Patagonia, but that sounds good). The idea was to at least ski over a big shoulder of the massif and do a loop trip ending up at the lodge. Didn’t happen. Just fun to be here, and a good binding test.


Please Enjoy A Few Suggested WildSnow Posts


20 Responses to “Nevados Chillan — Journey to the King”

  1. Edge August 29th, 2014 9:20 am

    Just got back from my stint down there. I was super impressed with the [censored] binding and with the dialed Marker/Volkl crew (but not with the conditions). Sorry to miss the gringo contingent, but hope you guys got your hands on some of the BCA swag I left behind. Make sure you down some pisco sours and get off on the lodge owner’s groovy Trustafari sound track 😉

  2. Anton August 29th, 2014 9:25 am

    Windy in the Andes?! No way. Glad you made it down there ok. Have fun! Make sure you guys ski into Shangrila and soak in the hot springs.

  3. carlos August 29th, 2014 11:24 am

    ah ah
    blogs are no more what they used to be
    Lou holding pictures of most interesting new product of season for weeks to be part of a marketing hype plan…after being paid travel and drinks.. (I hope you prended some “chicas” too..)

    beware the marker black list !!

    colluding is the new independence
    I would call it corporate blogging

    but who cares, I can wait untill sept 2nd, but you might be burnt by some new Zealand blogger (or european ) on a most favorable time zone 😉

    just kidding :), thanks for your work, take care and beware the black list

  4. Lou Dawson 2 August 29th, 2014 12:35 pm

    Indeed Carlos, might as well have fun with it as ski touring goes mainstream. Issue that always comes up is if the koolaid is about junk, or actual product that works. In this case it’s looking good so a lot easier. In fact that’s usually the case with what we do, as I try to avoid getting sucked into covering junk, though I’m only human and gullible to one extent or another. Another tactic I try to take is to do deeper analysis of these new products than just repeating the PR, and yeah I know I’ve done this to various degrees of success. Where you guys can help is just hold me to that, and I’ll do my best. Lou

  5. Max August 29th, 2014 3:25 pm

    I’m all for WildSnow getting the scoop (or poop) on the new binding. That’s gold (the scoop not the poop) for journalists. Lou, glad you report with a discerning eye. Have fun while you’re at it, I would!

  6. Cam August 29th, 2014 3:37 pm

    Well, good work on the censor on the first pic….and your skills could use some work in the second.

  7. Lou Dawson 2 August 29th, 2014 4:42 pm

    Just having fun Cam, the name has been out in the wild for a while, including having added to our previous blog post some time ago. Might have been a good catch and a dumb move by me, but not this time (grin). Lou

  8. Andy August 29th, 2014 4:42 pm

    One opinion: photos of the binding or don’t bother. The name is irrelevant. Looking forward to real info. Thanks!

  9. Cam August 29th, 2014 4:46 pm

    Lou: wow, I failed hard there. Back on topic – I can’t wait to find out about these. I’ve actually been super impressed with all of the Markers I’ve used over the years. Hope to continue that streak!

  10. Lou Dawson 2 August 29th, 2014 5:01 pm

    Andy, I agree, just joking around since sometimes this reverts to actually being a blog (grin). Lou

  11. Lou Dawson 2 August 29th, 2014 5:02 pm

    Cam, they did do a pretty good blackout on the binding, not sure how they accomplished that, but I’ll bet you know a few things.

  12. Pascal August 31st, 2014 6:29 am

    Marker testing a new «pintech» binding ? As far as I know, the winter season 2014-2015 is going to be a technology fireworks for bindings. Everywhere in France, Germany, Italy,Swiss, Canada, there are brands trying to conquer a part of the only growing ski market those last years, the touring niche.
    So glad to have someone like Lou to be an practical obsessed observer and present me an overview of the interesting gear novelties. It is going to be a challenge next season to cover everything.
    So if Marker goes «pintech» this is probably not the only brand to realise the advantages of light bindings for backcountry ski touring experience.
    So Lou take care of too much grapes in your research field 😉

  13. Fernando Pereira August 31st, 2014 6:57 pm

    The Google Maps insert in your post is likely for the address of Roca Negra’s office or PO box in the city of Chillán, not for the actual lodge in Las Trancas right below Nevados de Chillán,-71.480545,12z?hl=en-US.Now for the rest of the report, that wind is pretty familiar from several visits there. But I’ve also enjoyed some superb powder and spring conditions (on different visits). You reminded me that I need to get back there, it’s been too long. As for more tech bindings, I’ve been very happy with the Dynafit Radical ST, and before that I was on Vertical ST for a long while without major issues, it would take a big leap forward to make me bother with something else.

  14. Lou Dawson 2 August 31st, 2014 8:33 pm

    Hi Fernando, I’m aware of that and did change the GPS information in the Google map code, but their danged caching system keep displaying the same map. Always frustrating and I forget the tricks to work around it. A real flaw of Google maps IMHO. in any case thanks for the attention and help!

  15. Lou Dawson 2 August 31st, 2014 8:36 pm

    P.S., Radical and Vertical Dynafit bindings are still very much viable. Please don’t get the wrong impression. The performance battle is in the ‘freeride’ arena, Kingpin is more on the freeride side, though it is tourable. I can’t say more now, more later. Lou

  16. Pascal September 1st, 2014 1:31 am

    So the performance battle would be freeride and tourable.
    The direction of development seams to be certified ISO release values for all bindings and easier freeride line access through «pintech» for the big curves and cliff drop riders.
    Ok thank you, waiting now for real world work bench and terrain information.
    Have fun in Chile.

  17. carlos September 1st, 2014 11:52 am

    So lou,
    it is 2nd september in fiji since many houres…

    everywhere else in the world we have already seen them, discussed etc…

    you now want to build a big hype for your opinions ? 😉

    let’s hope the marker guys do not spread your opinion and comments first, or you’ll have to put them on your black list…

    I like them very much, I think they might get in my quiver for big mountain skis

  18. Pascal September 1st, 2014 12:00 pm

    Thank you Carlos.

  19. Kevin S September 1st, 2014 1:01 pm

    Thanks for the link Carlos and also to Lou for tempting us with more to come! Having owned much of the “latest” technology dating back to the early Silverettas, I am excited to see this evolution in BC equipment. While I use Markers for lift served skiing I am a recent convert to Dynafit (from Fritschi) for BC and will watch the Marker and other big boy’s progress with great interest. I like the wider screw pattern and am impressed with the heel design but wonder how much elasticity is built in to the heel to accommodate ice build up under the boot heel.

  20. Lou Dawson 2 September 1st, 2014 1:35 pm

    You guys, I had that link announced when they went public, just forgot to do it on this particular blog post, it is in other places… In any case, appreciate the help.

    To answer your specific question Kevin, the heel compensates for ice under boot by being under flexible spring tension. I tested and fiddled around with it, and it appears to be fine. Even so, as with nearly any alpine type heel system it’s in my opinion better to not insert boot with a big wad of ice under it.


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