Portillo is the most ancient and probably the most prestigious ski resort in South America. Only 40 kilometers separate it from the base of Mount Aconcagua, the highest peak in the Southern hemisphere. In the very heart of the Andes Mountain Range, 2,850 meters over sea level, Portillo or "narrow path" was the main pass between Argentina and Chile, first crossed by mules and horses and then by the trans-Andean train, which made one of the most spectacular tours on railways. After the international route was inaugurated, the train journeys were discontinued during the 1970's, thus losing this marvelous experience.
But the history of the area has been marked by its winter resort known by skiers from all round the world. It was in Portillo where the famous Jean Claude Killy won his first gold medals in the World Ski Championship in 1966 and where the 200-km/h world record was beaten at the Roca Jack run.
As a ski resort, Portillo knew how to increase its fame with its excellent runs, its powder snow and the optimum conditions for skiing and snowboarding. With a 7-meter snow average per season and a vertical drop reaching the 812 meters, it has 12 lifts and 23 runs, many of them lying on wide bowls with large land extensions, as well as spacious and accessible areas for off-piste ski.
To the school greater glory, it had 4 Olympic champions as directors, apart from training several winner skiers.
Everything turns around the only accommodation facility in the area: the Gran Hotel Portillo. Year after year, it is visited by skiers who have adopted it as a winter refuge, the site chosen to meet their mates of run, which gives the resort its stamp.
Built at 2,890 meters, the hotel is located one kilometer from the Los Libertadores Pass Chilean Customs Office and six kilometers from the Argentinian border and concentrates all the activities proposed by the winter resort.
The El Inca Lagoon is on the base, opposite the hotel. It is named after the legend of the Illi Yunqui Inca and his beloved one.
How to Get There: 164 km from the capital of Chile, take Route 5 towards the North and after 30 km, after the toll post, take the detour along Route 57 heading for Los Andes. From that town, take the international route up to the Portillo resort.
From Argentina, it is accessed through the city of Mendoza, taking the international route and passing by the Chilean Customs Office, go along one kilometer more to get to Portillo.
The routes and paths present good conditions. Nevertheless, given the height and the weather conditions during the winter, the use of tire chains is mandatory.
Season: This year, Portillo will open its resort on June 11 and it expects to close on October 8,approximately.
August is ideal for ski addicts, who may watch the Olympic ski teams training there.
The winter and the spring mingle in September, offering excellent weather and the best snow quality.
Weather: pleasant sunny winter days with temperatures above -5º C.
Activities: skiing in its different modalities and snowboarding.
Services: accommodation, restaurants, equipment rental, ski school, nursery, gym, indoors swimming-pool, shows, disco, etc.