TRAVEL BLOG – Chile & Argentina Snowboarding – Part 2

September 15th, 2010

Punta De Lobo is a mechanical left hand point break that’s 10 minutes south of Chile’s famous beach town Pichelemu. The point is covered in cacti.

Sep 8 – Sept 11, 2010 | Words Russell Holt Photos Johnny McCormack

Chile and Argentina have always been on the ‘hit-list’, the size of the Latino lure for any adventure seeking snowboarder is as huge as the Andes Mountain range that divides these two incredible countries and ticking off this box is one step closer to completing the dream list.
For our trip the good people at LAN Airlines (Chile’s National Airline) helped us get to Santiago in style with a flight: Sydney – Auckland – Santiago.

Surfing The Chilean Coast

Although we here to snowboard the Andes Mountains it would be a damn shame and nearly criminal to come all this way and not ride the perfect waves or taste the salt water on the other side of the Pacific. Chile is well-known for its amazing point breaks and reeling left hand waves and with over 7300km’s of coastline the country has its fair share of options. We chose one of the most well-known and easily accessible surf towns in Chile, Pichelemu just 5-hours drive (give or take) from Santiago and the 5000metre peaks we had been immersed in for the last 10 days.

The beach breaks of Pichelemu – to get to the shore you need to cross a wide black sand beach, avoid fisherman’s boats being pulled along the sand by tractors and then paddle out whilst the fisherman throw their fish waste into the ocean… Chile what an experience!

The streets of the famous beach town of Pichelemu are relatievly quiet in winter – a great time to visit and good time for swell.

Pichilemu is how I had imagined coastal Chile to be; dry, unsealed dirt roads all interconnect one sealed main road. Dark sandy beaches are littered with multi-coloured fishing boats sprawled across the wide and flat beach. Fisherman are untangling their nets and hundreds of birds fight for the scraps of crab and various fish heads. Huge Chilean flags blow in the coastal winds as old-times stand in doorways of brightly coloured one-story buildings watching the world go by. Dust blows through the town as we ventured a little farther south to our newly built eco-friendly accommodation – Surf Lodge Punta Lobos .

The Surf Lodge Punta Lobos was an incredible eco-friendly accomodation option that was very well priced, private and captivating.

Only 5 minutes drive down a dirt track from the cabin is Punta De Lobo. This left hand point break reels mechanical lefts from the Pacific Ocean starting at an iconic set of bird covered towering rocks that sit off the tip of the point.

It was truly a unique Chilean experience to change into the 4/3 wetsuit, booties and hoodie, then walking down the dirt paths and past the cacti that line the way before rocking-off into the water line-up. Thankfully the 3-4 foot swell posed no real danger for getting into the water, although for anything larger it could get very sketchy very fast.

The mechanical reeling left hand point break of Punta De Lobo just south of Pichelemu catches great winter swell. This day the swell was a mellow 2-3 foot but the point can hold well into double figures.

The water temperature is numbing on the hands but bearable if the wind is down, although after 3 consecutive duck-dives the headaches are quite intense. The wave itself was incredible, even though it was only shoulder to head-high its glassy-smooth protected faces curled into perfect walls through makeable section to makeable section. It’s much like a left hand version of Lennox NSW without the boulders, or as the Kiwis explained the break was comparable to Raglan and its northern sister break Shippies in NZ.

An amazing sunset session on the points cliff top rolled into a bonfire and BBQ back at the lodge and some long needed rest from the snowboard boots and all-day hiking/filming sessions around Santiago.

The next day, with dreams come true and waves of Chile surfed we would say goodbye to the coast and head to Santiago, on to Buenos Aires and down to Bariloche, Argentina.

There in Patagonia the resort of Catedral Alta Patagonia and a 2-metre spring snow base is waiting.

Waiting for the last of the crew to paddle in after the afternoon session and watching the sunset over the ocean is unique experience for any east coast dwellers.

Punta De Lobo has two iconic rocks that sit out of the tip of the point. Surfable waves break in and around the rocks and set-up all the way around to the inside section of the point.