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Skiing and Snowboarding - Activity Info. - Chile

Chile’s resorts are regarded as the best in South America and offer every type of skiing, from classic Alpine skiing and snowboarding to cross-country and backcountry skiing. Ski centers dot the mountains from just outside of Santiago to the remote Punta Arenas area. The majority of resorts are equipped with modern chairlifts, rental shops, lodges, and are staffed by international ski instructors and ski patrollers. A few hills have snow-making equipment. It’s possible to dine and overnight on some slopes or in close proximity to the base. The bigger central resorts are pricier, and usually lift tickets are cheapest mid-week. If you’re in Chile exclusively to ski or ride it’s best to bring your own gear. But, it’s also easy to rent or buy equipment when you arrive.

 

Where to ski

Resorts in central Chile are characterized by their high elevations, and are composed of craggy, expansive, treeless trails, reminiscent of the Alps. Southern resorts are often perched on the slopes of volcanoes, with attractive ridges and half pipes formed by lava flows. In general, to access truly challenging slopes you have to hike up or traverse. The season usually runs from mid-May into October, though in central Chile the season often begins late and ends early. At those resorts, snow is dry and light, with some runs machine groomed. To the south the snow is wetter and heavier, the weather more erratic, and trails less maintained. There you can also hit the slopes earlier, and lifts have been known to operate until late October.

 

Central Valley

A short drive from the capital brings you to five major resorts: Farellones, El Colorado, La Parva, Valle Nevado. Chile’s first ski resort Farellones is highly popular among Santiaguinos. There are numerous intermediate runs at El Colorado, some bona fide black diamonds, and plenty of areas for bump skiing. La Parva has a luxurious chalet village and vibrant nightlife. It’s more suitable for intermediate and advanced skiers and snowboarders. Valle Nevado, site of the 1993 Pan-American winter games, has a self-contained village on its slopes and ultra-modern infrastructure—including 41 lifts and a snowboard park and half-pipe. It, along with La Parva and Valle Nevado are accessible by a multiple-resort ticket. Chile’s premier resort, Portillo, is northeast of the capital, near the Argentine border and Mendoza. It is so highly regarded for its powder and steep slopes, where downhill speed records have been set, that Olympic ski teams from the U.S. and Germany now train there. Chapa Verde, near Rancagua, is a less frequented and cheaper alternative to the bigger hills. There’s a variety of terrain and some of the best out of bounds skiing in Chile. Lagunillas, in Cajón del Maipo, is a small not-for-profit ski center, with modest infrastructure, average snow pack, and fantastic views.

 

The Lake District

Some resorts in the south are close to hot springs, which makes for great après-ski relaxation. Termas de Chillán is the largest and arguably the best resort in the south. It has trails for all skill levels, a snowboard park and half-pipe, and allows for heli opportunities. Trails in Parque Nacional Villarrica are set on the lower slopes of an active volcano. Many runs remain closed throughout the year, but it’s a good spot for novices, and there’s something to be said for ripping down a smoking volcano. Antillanca, east of Osorno on Volcán Casablanca, and Las Araucarias on Volcán Llaima have captivating vistas and a few un-challenging trails, with a couple of slow lifts and limited services.

 

Patagonia

Patagonia is home to out-of-the-way hills like Cerro El Fraile, Corralco, the Los Arenales Ski Center, and Cerro Mirador in the Reserva Nacional Magallanes. These inexpensive resorts offer prime views, and are perfect for those starting out on four or two edges.

 

Safety

Be aware that avalanches are common in the central Andes. The snow pack in the south is more stable but the weather is worse. If skiing or boarding in the backcountry, contact mountain rescue services to leave details of where you’re going and when you’re coming back. Altitude sickness is a factor in the higher elevation resorts, so acclimatize first and take it easy. Check ski resorts’ websites and andesweb.cl for snow conditions and weather reports.

Activity Info.

Here are some related tips to help plan your trip to Chile: Wine tours, Plaza de Armas, Curicó activities, Lago Vichuquén, Villarrica volcano, Parque Nacional La Campana, Radal Siete Tazas, Around Curicó, Hiking and Horse Riding in Chile.





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