Chile and a great day –Penitentes ski hill to Portillo (76k/22,983k, 2,400ft)

(October 21 – written by Dave)

Today was such a great day for so many reasons. I’m honestly not sure where to start.  For example, I could stop writing now and just post the photos – we crossed the Andes through a spectacular high alpine pass today.  If a picture is worth a thousand words, then we’d have a good 20,000 word post with just photos.  But there was so much more.  Here’s a list…

  • Riding past the highest mountain in the Americas – Aconcagua
  • Crossing Paso Internacional Los Libertadores – 3,200 metres (10,500 feet)
  • Riding 3k in the back of a road works truck because the summit tunnel prohibits bicycles
  • Getting through Chilean and Argentina immigrations without issues
  • Getting all of our food through Chilean customs (yes, it was all legal but we’ve heard stories)
  • Riding through ever changing mountain scenes that just got more “wow” with every corner
  • Reaching our 15th and final country of the trip (though technically we will go back and forth between Chile and Argentina a few more times)
  • Finishing the near 400k climb from San Juan to the top of the pass – it wasn’t technically all uphill, but we’ve had very little downhill since San Juan
  • Riding the last 50k downhill off the pass – a nice way to end any day
  • Having a ripping headwind on the downhill and not caring because we were finally going downhill after 5 days of uphill
  • Riding an amazing set of switchbacks on the downhill (and passing a couple trucks – I know, “crazy”)
  • Changing only a few ARS into Chilean pesos at the border because the rate the guy was offering was a joke
  • Finding a lovely cottage run by an AirB&B super host (Berta) who would take a credit card so our lack of Chilean Pesos was no issue (for today, at least).
  • Discovering that our Berta has a power adapter that we can borrow – ok, it doesn’t seem like a big deal but I really wanted to look at today’s photos
  • Buying bread and eggs from the man who drives his car through town everyday selling to the locals
  • Doing it all with my lovely wife Nancy – how lucky am I that she’ll travel with me and that we are both healthy enough to take on this journey, and actually enjoy it! (Senior editor’s note – I think Dave just added that last bit to make up for stopping almost every kilometre, on the uphill and the downhill – how many pictures do we really need?!?)

So, the first day in Chile has worked out great.  There is a long list of things to tackle tomorrow – new sim for the phone, find an ATM/bank for some local currency, find an adaptor, and I am sure there are many other things on the list that Nancy is keeping.  (Senior editor’s note – well, I guess I have to keep up the list as no one else on this trip seems to be able to do it…).

And I almost forgot to mention it – Happy Mother’s Day to our mothers.  It is Mother’s day today in Argentina, but not in Chile.  Chile celebrates Mother’s Day in May.  So Happy Half Mother’s Day Jan and Alice.

Love you Mom

Love you Mom!

Photo overdose follows!

Ski hill and mountain - last night

Last night – mountain above ski hill

Morning mountains 1

Morning mountains

Morning mountains 4

More views in the morning

Nearig the snow

Careful, the road could have ice or snow

Looking back down 2

Looking back to where we started today

Aconcagua in the clouds 2

Aconcagua hiding in the clouds

Aconcagua cross

Aconcagua park cross

Aconcagua sign

Aconcagua Park

Summit mountains 6

Summit glacial valley

Summit mountains 9

Summit peaks

Summit mountains 1

More summit peaks

Our truck

We rode 3k in a dark tunnel, in the back, holding our bikes and trying not to fall out – exciting

Old train tunnel and mountains

Old train snow cover and summit mountain

Summit snow cover

Going down past snow tunnel – find Nancy

Welcome to Chile 1

Welcome to Chile!

Welcome to Chile 3

Wait for me Nancy – our last country

New dear sign

New country – new sign – I think it’s a deer, maybe

Crazy switchbacks on desent 3

Yup, that’s Nancy again, in the upper left

Crazy switchbacks on desent 4

Left, right,left, right, repeat!


Suddenly it’s spring in Chile!

Nancy buying bread and eggs

Buying bread and eggs from the, well, the bread and eggs man, who else….


14 thoughts on “Chile and a great day –Penitentes ski hill to Portillo (76k/22,983k, 2,400ft)

  1. The mountain views are spectacular. Reminds me of my ride across Canada in 1974. The Rockies were the best part. I saw the switchbacks on google maps yesterday and wondered how that would go. Nice photo!!
    Those poppies could be in California if it was spring here. Cheers!

  2. Okay… Your achievements are so awesome. I am totally envious. What a great day. And, I especially empathize with your last bullet.

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