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SKIING IN SOUTH AMERICA - Katie Bamber, Senior News Reporter
Friday June 29, 2018 - Email this article to a friend

It's all about the adventure. Argentina, Chile, anybody?

Skiing the Andes is a bucket list topper.

Expect a more lax approach to skiing, timing, lifts.

It's the adventure of unexpected, who knows what'll happen, and it's on you to make it happen.

Work for your turns, and go seek it all out...

And the people you'll meet - the tourists are Brazilian with the Argentinian and Chilean locals - believe me, know how to party.


Fly to B.A and then take your pick of Argentina's six main ski resorts, all (usefully) spread far and few between from Penitentes and Valle Nevado right down to Cerro Castor at Tierea del Fuego ('the end of the earth').

Unlike in New Zealand, or even Chile's Santigo, there isn't a cluster of ski resorts to head to when exploring the ski scene here.

More of an independent adventure, eh?!

Patagonia is everything you've ever heard about it and more...

Peak Leaders ski courses imageArgentina skiing

Cerro Catedral is the biggest ski resort in Argentina.

Located right by Bariloche, the ski resort is often just referred as Bariloche, it's in Argentina's lake district.

Modern, in South America standards, in the last decade it has become a helluva lot more popular and improved.

The resort has a full base village and then there's the nearby glamorous town of Bariloche known for its restaurants, chocolate shops, incredible surrounding lakes and scenery, and for the nightlife (probably the best in South America's ski scene).

Back to the skiing - what's the main thing to say?

Huge powder bowls; huge amount of accessible backcountry skiing.

Skiing is up to 2,050m and the season runs from late June to October, with powder August skiing the best.

The main part of the resort can get busy during peak season, though, so plan it well.

Cerro CatedralCerro Catedral

Las Lenas

Big. Mountain. Resort.

It's one for freeriders and the terrain draws pro skiers from over the world for the season.

For when the snow is in, it's all about big descents and couloir ski outs. But you've gotta be biding your time to earn these goodies...

It doesn't claim the most snowfall in Argentina, but when it's on, it's on...

For the more modest skier, or adventurers on a day inbounds, there are 29 pistes to ski and ride too.

Las LenasLas Lenas

Cerro Castor, Ushuaia, Tierre del Fuego

Cerro Castor is the southernmost ski destination in the world.

The nearby city Ushuaia is nown for being a popular port for Antarctic cruises and research.

And they're already skiing...

Cerro CastorCerro Castor


Caviahue is pretty special as it's located on the side of the active Copahue Volcano (you can reportedly hear it rumble at night).

This also means natural hot springs - Can there be a better thearpy (and chill out) after a day on the hill?

So a smoking peak and a turquoise lake its foot.

The skiing is perfect for beginners and intermediates.

A cheap option among the Argentina resorts.

Skiing is from 1st July to 1st October: Copahue the local town.


Chapelco is a good option for families (and you must love yours to fly 'em out here).

Top elevation is 1,980m so it's a decent height.

We could go on, and we will.

Next up Chile and the resorts of Portillo, Nevados de Chillan, and Chile's high profile resorts - the Santiago resorts of Valle Nevado, El Colorado and La Parva.


Santiago resorts:

Valle Nevado is just 25 miles from the city of Santiago - it's perhaps Chile's main ski resort, certainly among the most popular.

Powderhounds sums it up as "sometimes deep, mostly not steep, and generally not cheap".

For the Southern Hem, though, it has some of the best powder.

Like anywhere in South America, when the snow comes it's hella good.

The committed stick around town to wait close by for the snow to get up and get their lines.

Santiago Santiago

Portillo is loved by expert skiers for its steep, steep slopes and big opportunity for side country skiing.

Limited lodging on the mountain means more freshies and less lift lines.

The scenery is something else: the craggy peaks of the Andes, the blue of Laguna del Inca, and the enormous yellow hotel at its centre it is famous for.

El Colorado is closest to the city and is known for its wide open ski fields.

Skiing is up to 3,300m with a vert drop of over 1,000m - a good decent, no?

You can buy an inter-connected ski lift pass with the two neighbouring resorts of La Parva and Valle Nevado.

What makes these perhaps the best place in the world, is you can ski and surf in a day...

Santiago sits between the mountains and coast - the perfect trifecta of snow, city and sea.

Here's some distance figures so depending on the swell and the snow, you can choose which way round you ride:

Santiago to Valle Nevado ski resort - 1hr 30 drive
Santiago to Ski Portillo - 2 hrs drive
Santiago to El Colorado ski resort  - 1hr 20 drive
Santiago to La Parva ski - 1hr 20 drive
Santiago to Valparaiso surf spot- 1hr 30 drive
Santiago to Pichilemu surf spot - 3 hrs drive
Santiago to Ritoque - 2 hrs drive

We'll move on to Volcan Villarrica/Pucon too, but give us a moment.

All this snow falling out there is getting us going.

For snow news and more Southern Hemisphere skiing options, here's some suggested reading material:
Cardrona NZSkiing in the Southern Hemisphere

See this related PlanetSKI feature for all about skiing in Australia and skiing in New Zealand.

See here for the main PlanetSKI news page with all the latest stories from the mountains.

For the Spirit of the Mountains - PlanetSKI: Number 1 for ski news

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