South American Ski Travel — Dynafit bindings as weapons, and more.

Post by blogger | August 3, 2012      

Viaje a Chile! The day before yesterday I began a 48 hour binge of planes, taxis, and buses. Only about 10 hours left until I arrive in Las Trancas, Chile.

Container ship Panama.

A huge container ship traveling through the Miraflores locks in Panama. This ship was headed from the east coast of the U.S. to Tiawan.

Our flight landed us in Panama, with a 9 hour layover in the middle of the day, so we decided to head out and check out the city. Our skillful bargaining (basically saying “Barato” over and over), brought down the price of a ride to the Panama Canal from $40 to $25. After a hectic drive through the city, we arrived at the Miraflores Locks, the last for ships headed to the Pacific through the Canal. It was pretty impressive watching this 100 year old engineering marvel at work, two huge ships passed in the 45 minutes we were there. We asked the taxi driver to take us to some cheap food, and then made our way through even worse traffic to the airport.

At the airport, we had to bring our carry-ons back through security. I had two airbag canisters in my pack. I’ve flown a fair bit in the States with airbag canisters, and it hasn’t been a problem. However as soon as I started taking them out of my bag, the security agent shook his head, and mimed beating another agent over the head. I was suprised to find he knew what an airbag pack was, but wasn’t going to let it through. Getting the message, I ran around the airport (I’d been told that running around airports is something one tends to do while enjoying this type of traveling, so, proof), trying to find a way to get the canisters to Santiago.

Air canisters wrapped for checked airline baggage.

Air canisters wrapped for checked airline baggage.

Eventually they let me pack the air cans as a checked bag free of charge, and I headed over to security again. This time they barely let my pack full of carabiners, a fuel bottle (disguised as a water bottle), dynafit bindings, and ski boots through. We hopped on our flight, and in Santiago I found my little blue bag of airbag canisters on the luggage belt. Shew.

I’m now headed to the bus station to catch a bus to Chillán, and then Las Trancas. Hopefully by the next report I’ll have gotten on some snow for backcountry skiing. It’s definitely winter here, the cold outside feels good.


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14 Responses to “South American Ski Travel — Dynafit bindings as weapons, and more.”

  1. Lisa August 3rd, 2012 11:19 am

    Great to hear from you! Thanks for checking in.

  2. Layne August 3rd, 2012 12:13 pm

    If you are staying at the Mission Impossible lodge in Las Trancas you will love it, really cool place. Also, watch out for the upper surface lift at Chillan, it is wicked (like many lifts in Argentina and Chile). There is great terrain on the upper mountain, and vast territory to tour all around the resort. There is literally no avy control inside the resort (we set off a pretty good slide just above the main lodge area, so keep that in mind). If the Don Otto lift is open it takes you into some great terrain, but it is slow and not running very much, but I’m sure you will be touring, so you may not even ski in the resort. Enjoy, Chile is a great place!

  3. Chuck August 3rd, 2012 12:18 pm

    Good going, Louie! Look forward to your TRs!

  4. Jeremy F August 3rd, 2012 6:29 pm

    At least you got the carabiners through. At CDG in France, mine were considered the equivalent of knuckledusters.

  5. Estiban August 3rd, 2012 8:52 pm


  6. Fernando Pereira August 3rd, 2012 11:43 pm

    What Layne said. If I wasn’t going to Bariloche this September for Frey and Tronador, Las Trancas is where I’d be going. If the conditions are good, do the long tour to Volcán Nevado (North of the resort). A bit more off the beaten track, long run back, although navigation through the lava field at the bottom back to Tres Marias run is “interesting”. MI Lodge is fun.

  7. Wookie1974 August 4th, 2012 12:58 am

    I’d be interested in the travel experiences of others who have taken an airbag pack with them on trips with the airlines. I’ve heard this can be a real problem.
    I think buying one looks more and more like a good idea, but close to 1000 Euros for a bag I can’t take on big adventures might be a deal breaker.
    Is there an “accepted” way to transport the canisters such that I could travel without nail-biting as I clear security?


  8. Lou Dawson August 4th, 2012 8:01 am

    Wookie, there is no clear standard on how to travel with the things, especially when you throw in a journey off the beaten path. Yesterday, someone told me that one trick is to carry a magazine with an article about your questionable gear. When the “security” person questions just what the heck that thing is, in a foreign language, open up the magazine to the article and start pointing.

    The issue with carrying the canisters as carry-on is they can be used as a club weapon. One they’re all carbon and super light, that probably won’t be an issue as they won’t feel like a “club” when the security person hefts them. Other key thing is to configure a canister, if possible, to not have a top so security can look inside it.

  9. Paris August 4th, 2012 9:11 am

    I am flying into Mendoza in a week. I was told I must deflate my air-bag canister, and then fill up at a scuba shop, if I can find one in Mendoza. I can’t believe you got yours through like that! great job.

  10. Lisa August 4th, 2012 9:14 pm

    Paris, Louie’s canisters were empty.

  11. Mike August 6th, 2012 8:39 am

    I’ve flown domestically twice with my BCA airbag. Both times I placed the empty canister without the top in the checked ski bag. I put the bag and trigger mechanism in my other checked bag. Both bags made it through. I found the TSA calling card in the ski bag both times so I know they checked it. But no one ever questioned me.
    Did I take a big chance doing that? It seemed much easier than trying to explain the devise to TSA in the screening area. For one thing, the tank looks like a SIG water bottle (which I packed along with the airbag canister).

  12. Dakotah August 6th, 2012 12:03 pm

    A friend of mine teaches down in Chile and has always tried to get me down there for a trip. If I end up making the trek I’d like to turn part of it into a ski trip, but don’t know anyone in who has gone down there to ski. Where should I look at, mountain-wise, to schedule a trip around? Who has the best snow? I’m sure I’ll pick up some useful info from following your updates, but figured I’d outright ask as well. Look forward to reading more about it!

  13. ah3fbw8p August 6th, 2012 8:10 pm

    I don’t know a whole lot about skiing in Chile (yet), but I do know it varys a lot season to season. Chile is having a very low snow season right now, but the south areas are much better than the northern areas, such as around Santiago. Some of the northern ski areas haven’t had any snow in over a month.

    After I’m done with this trip I hope to put together a short guide to planing a backcountry ski trip to chile, and post it up here on Wildsnow. There isn’t a whole lot of info online, that I have found.

  14. Fernando Pereira August 7th, 2012 10:47 pm

    @Dakotah: ThIs guide may be somewhat outdated, but it has lots of good info It covers both Chile and Argentina. I’ve been to some of those places and others, but I’ve never written up detailed reports. Going South as Louie is doing is wise, especially in low snow years. Weather patterns are quite different from North America’s’ possibly because there’s much less landmass in temperate S. America. Weather forecasts are less reliable. Avalanche conditions info hard to come by. Wind is a constant issue. In my (limited) experience, late August-mid September have had the best conditions.

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