Widely known for their weekend-long snowboard camps, The Progression Sessions has been helping women across North America to improve their game and push beyond comfort zones. When an opportunity arose to take TPS into the Southern Hemisphere, head coaches Christine Savage and Mary Walsh couldn’t imagine a better way to take TPS into the future. In collaboration with Steep N Deep Tours in South America, TPS brought one lucky group of women into the rugged mountains of Chile.
With just a small group of lady shredders, TPS was able to experience a little bit of everything that Chile had to offer. Not only did they quench their relentless need for powder, but they had the trip of a lifetime, on and off the mountain. Binging on sushi and seafood, impromptu table dance parties, surfing the beautiful Chilean coast, sipping wine at local vineyards, and more made it easy for these ladies to make friendships and memories to last a lifetime. This is the story of nine strangers, bonded together by a love for snowboarding and of course, rocking out to Justin Bieber.
Offering an exclusive and first person account, Mary Walsh was able to give us a detailed look into their trip.
“On Monday, August 29th nine women arrived at the Santiago Airport, piled their boardbags into our pair of vans and headed into the city. We had arrived a week prior to acclimate to the zone and get our bearings and were stoked to finally welcome the crew to the Andes! Jenny Messing, our humble TPS leader arrived with the ladies, too; we were a full posse of women (and our token, fearless tour leader, Ian) ready to enjoy the powder and pisco of Chile: Manon, Fawnn, Mekayla, Jessica (aka J Wei Wei), Deirdre (aka Sweet D), Allison, Kaitlyn, and Brandi.
No matter how meticulously you make your plans, Mother Nature always does what she likes. Chilean resorts had the deepest base in years; trails were covered in snow—but no storm patterns were cycling in. We headed up the snaking switchbacks from Santiago to Farellones, the alpine mountain town at the base of three of Chile’s famous resorts, La Parva, El Colorado, and Valle Nevado and straight to El Colorado, where a spring-like day of shredding awaited.
Our second day on hill was socked in with clouds, but the groomers were on point and we turned and burned at Valle until the lifts closed for the day. Day 3, the sky opened up to brilliant blue and we lapped La Parva. Just before lunch, we collected at a mid-mountain café to practice beacon drills and discuss terrain, possible challenges, and increase our avalanche awareness. A solid session of learning to locate and dig out the beacons ended with Kimmy lying down on the ground as the crew gently tapped her with their probes in order to feel really what a strike could be like. We filled our bellies with on hill pescados y papas frites and then lapped, once again, until the lifts stopped turning for the day.
Back at Hotel Farellones, the perfectly rustic lodge we were camped out at, we were treated to a homey, welcoming atmosphere: a staff that treated us like visiting family, a third-story porch that offered up fiery sunset views, a couch-filled lounge area where we discussed more backcountry safety and enjoyed coffee, and group dinners in the dining room where we drank wine and ate traditional Chilean specialties. In between rounds of pisco sours, incredible palta-loaded salads, and impromptu at-the-table dance parties (songs of choice: Tove Lo’s “Cool Girl” and anything by Bieber), the hours of the evening were too short—in truth, the days in Chile move faster than anywhere else I’ve been. There’s just so much fun to be had. We logged one more perfectly blue day at Valle Nevado, spraying cold snow into the air on trails and sessioning the boxes and jumps in the park. And then it was time to head to Santiago; we were making tracks for the coast to go surfing.
Our final weekend in Chile, we headed to the coast, stopping to sample local wines at a gorgeous vineyard before arriving in Vina Del Mar, a seaside city located next to Valparaiso, one of the country’s most famous ports. The streets of Valparaiso are lined with stunning artwork, murals, and spray painted stencils, making the inner pathways of the city as beautiful as the oceanfront. Spending time there was an amazing contrast to the elevation of Farellones. On our final day in Chile, we squeezed into wetsuits in ConCon at Punto Surf La Boca Surf School and trading the white wave for a blue one and celebrating our collective ability to paddle and stand up by spending the afternoon atop a seaside balcony, experiencing arguably the best seafood the Chilean coast has to offer.
When it was finally time to head to the airport, we had spent only a week together, but formed friendships that would stretch much longer. Our crew of women, all unknown to one another seven days prior, had formed a cohesive and supportive unit. We had snowboarded together, explored just a small segment of the Andes, and traversed the Chilean countryside as a posse, exploring, learning, and trusting ourselves and one another in a foreign place. It is hard to adequately quantify how amazing the women are who chose to come on this adventure to Chile with us, but suffice to say that the vibes were at an all time high. At each location of The Progression Sessions, our goal is to create the most comfortable and confidence-instilling environment possible, because that is when we are all able to face down our fears, whether it be hitting an intimidating feature or trying a new trick. During TPS x SND in Chile, our group conquered anything in their path that could be intimidating: terrain, a language barrier, new foods, new places, new tricks, and emerged stoked, strong, and with a new epic group of friends.
Thank you to everyone that helped to make this trip possible! Big thanks to all of our sponsors, Oakley, Burton, Skullcandy, Gold Coast Skateboards, Clif Bar, Coola Suncare, Wend Wax, and Mimi’s Cookie Bar! Thank you to Outdoor Equipment Rentals for dialing everyone in with beacons, probes, and shovels!”