TRANSITIONING FROM FLIP-FLOPS TO SKI BOOTS OVERNIGHT is always shocking, but chasing winter to South America has been part of my annual migration for the past 30 years. As a member of the US Ski Team, I would spend the entire month of August bouncing around between the resorts of Portillo, Valle Nevado, La Parva and Las Lenas. Each season I gained new appreciation for this amazing part of the world, a unique region where the Pacific Ocean gives way to fertile valleys producing the finest fruits and vegetables (and wines) before abruptly slamming into the 20,000+ foot peaks of the Andes.

In 1989, my teammate Erik Keck and I decided to extend our trip. We sold our 205cm Head slalom skis and purchased surfboards at the only surf shop in Santiago. We followed handwritten instruction to a place called Punto Lobos. Privy to locals only, this ‘secret spot’ is now one of the most prominent surf breaks in South America. The two giant rock pillars that form the beginning of this perfect left can be recognized in the pages of every major surf publication in the world.

But 17 years ago there was was no place to stay. We slept on our empty ski bags in an abandoned house on the beach surfing the best — and biggest — waves of our lives. When we were too tired to surf we played in the sand dunes, jumping our brand new 4WD rental car, and running around naked. It didn’t take long to discover that Chile was and still is the ultimate adventure playground.

Photo: Chile’s surf culture is booming as surf camps continue to pop up along this pristine coastline. Another secret spot is discovered. Location = undisclosed.

More recently I’ve returned to South America every August to follow my passions as a heli-ski guide and production manager for Each year is a new adventure as we deliver high-end experiences for clients while servicing the needs of professional skiers such as Tanner Hall, Lyndsey Dyer, Todd Ligare, Julian Carr and others.

Photo: There is no better way to explore the Andes than by helicopter which is only 100 yards away when you wake up in Valle Nevado. Valle Nevado Heli-ski offers the most experienced pilots and guiding service in the country.

While pros and clients have different agendas, the relationship is mutually beneficial. The pros prefer to utilize the helicopter during the early and late light hours while the clients are more interested in skiing throughout the day. Typically the pros will go early and establish a zone and help mitigate the hazard so that we can bring clients into the field and safely descend more aggressive terrain.

Photo: There is nothing quite like getting dropped off on top of a 14,000 foot peak in the Andes. The views are breathtaking and the skiing is limitless.

Then at the end of the day we can all meet up for a beer at the local bar, a truly Stellar Adventure.

Photo: Valle Nevado Resort is only 90 minutes away from downtown Santiago and represents the countries most luxurious ski resort for all abilities. Relax in a high-altitude hot tub with cold beer in hand while enjoying views of El Plomo (17,735ft).

Photo: Despite a low snow year in 2015, Reggie Crist, still manages to find untracked powder around every corner. The massive relief found in the Andes provides ample opportunity to find the best skiing on the planet during the month of August.