If you think our #GoggleSelfie Photo Contest sounds familiar, you’re right. Last year, we gave away a Valle Nevado ski trip and POC Sports gear in a #GoggleTan Photo Contest. Contestants submitted photos showing how they were keeping their goggle tans through the summer. From rock climbing to playing golf, even mowing the lawn, we received some great submissions. In the end, Lauren Arnold’s slightly risque hitchhiking pose garnered the most votes, and she won the grand prize ski vacation in Valle Nevado, Chile plus POC helmet and goggles.
We caught up with Lauren to find out about her Valle Nevado adventures, from scoring powder days to hitchhiking to Santiago. Here’s what we learned:
Ski.com: You live in Vail, right? Where do you ski most often during North America’s winter?
Lauren: Yes, I live in Vail full time. I ski mostly around here, but I visit Utah to ski Alta and Snowbird. I usually make a trip over to Aspen, and I try to get to Jackson Hole every other year.
Ski.com: Was skiing in South America what thought it would be, or was Valle Nevado different than you envisioned?
Lauren: It was my first time to skiing in South America. I really enjoyed it! The road going up to Valle Navado is insane with more than 50 narrow switch backs; that was a bit interesting.
The skiing was quite good. It snowed about two feet while we were there. We were the first in line for the powder day, but they seemed to be on “Chilean time.” The lifts opened an hour late. People didn’t seem to mind, but this wouldn’t fly back home. On the upside, the snow was awesome, and the crowds were scarce.
Ski.com: What was your favorite experience in Valle Nevado?
Lauren: After a long day exploring the mountain, we would get a bottle of wine and take it to the massive hot tub. It was quite the aprés party with a DJ playing beats and an abundance of cocktails.
Ski.com: What kind of person should this year’s winner take with them, i.e. what makes a great Valle Nevado travel partner?
Lauren: After I won, I had lots of people who wanted to come with me. You have to find a friend that meets this criteria:
- Loves to ski, obviously
- Enjoys wine (I think we drank about 30 bottles of wine during the week…)
- Is not afraid of karaoke! (There is only one bar to go to, and they have an awesome karaoke night!)
- Loves a good aprés hot tub party
Ski.com What’s a can’t-miss experience in Valle Nevado?
Lauren: It was really fun going over to the other resorts [El Colorado and La Parva] and checking them out. We did a little ski crawl and had a drink at each resort. We thought the skiing and the snow was best at Valle Nevado, and there were some fantastic crepes at the mid-mountain lodge that I would recommend.
Ski.com: Any other great stories about your trip?
Lauren: Our shuttle was pretty late when we were supposed to leave for Santiago. I’m pretty impatient, so I asked some local dude who was going to Santiago if we could get a ride. (Chileans are super friendly!) We strapped our ski bags to the top of his tiny car and managed to shove our huge suit cases in the back. It was snowing and the roads were icy. The guy didn’t speak much English, so I was attempting to communicate with my broken Spanish. All hell broke loose… We got into a car accident and ran into a huge truck. Everyone was fine, but his car was a bit smashed in the front. Communication failed, and we proceeded to get lost getting to our hotel. In the end, we made it, and we laugh about it now. Overall, we had an awesome experience in Chile!!!
And since a picture is worth a thousand words, here are a few of Lauren’s photos from her grand prize Valle Nevado ski trip last August: