Ski in Chile
In the Chilean winter months from mid June, through July and August the snow falls on the high Andes Mountains leaving crisp, fresh, virgin, snow-covered mountain slopes ready for all those who love to snow ski even though in the northern hemisphere it is mid summer! The ski season in Chile is open from mid June through to the end of September, with the best powder usually falling in July and August. Indeed, Chile as a ski destination is regarded by some ski writers as the best skiing in the World. This, however, is likely a reflection on the off-piste, powder skiing, of which there is plenty and the fact that there is so much space, so much snow, that power skiers feel like they have the place to themselves.
Chile Ski Centres:
Chile officially has over 15 ski destinations, but only some have the facilities to offer a complete ski package programme and can be called ski centres (or resorts). The ski centres of note are: Portillo, Valle Nevado (Snow Valley), El Colorado, La Parva (all near to Santiago), and further south from Santiago there is Chillan and Pucon. Each of these ski resorts offers a variety of snow-skiing options for all levels and styles of skier.
Portillo; Valle Nevado, El Colorado and la Parva (The Three Valleys)
Just over an hour from Santiago, by road, is the best Southern-Hemisphere ski centre in the World called Valle Nevado (Snow Valley), and almost adjacent to Valle Nevado are the residential ski villages of La Parva, El Colorado (and Farellones), which together form the “Three Valleys” offering extensive ski trails linking each other.
Portillo ski centre comprises one large hotel (painted yellow on the exterior) with capacity for 400 guests. It is located by the Chilean border into Argentina 61km east from the town of Los Andes, which is itself 80km north of Santiago. The drive time from Santiago is just over 2hrs. The hotel offers a very welcoming, warm atmosphere with families and regular guests returning year after year.
Located on the side of a volcano and south from Santiago (487km) is the ski centre of Chillan, now called Nevados de Chillan (accessible by driving 6hrs from Santiago or by taking a 1hr flight from Santiago to Concepcion followed by a 2hr transfer from Concepcion). Nevados de Chillan is an Alpine-style ski resort with wooded areas to offer above and below the tree line skiing. Chillan offers plenty of pisted trails (one run 18km long) and back-country, powder skiing as well as other facilities such as hot springs, swimming pools, ski scooters and even dog-sleigh rides. This ski destination is an all-in-one ski complex.
Located on the side of an active volcano and further south than Chillan (789km from Santiago) is the ski centre of Pucon (accessible by 1hr 15 min flight from Santiago to Temuco with onward transfer of about 1hr to Pucon village).
So, for anyone interested in skiing during the months of June, July and August, Chile is the best ski destination offering a variety of ski destinations, numerous ski trails for beginners through to expert-level skiers and superb off-piste, powder skiing and helicopter skiing. There are also snow-board parks, competitions that can be entered into and excellent “après ski” facilities.