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Summer Ski Trip

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

Hey all- I am looking to take a ski-trip this summer to probably South America.  Has anyone skied Las Lenas?  My wife and I would be going we have both skied for over 20 years, and although we are from the East Coast we can hold our own skiing the deep and steep (we just got back from Squaw about a month ago). We're looking for a challenging mountain, but really don't get too hung up on lodges, scene etc....just a place for appropriate apres' ski, and decent food after a day of shredding pow-pow (or at least attempting to).  For instance, we went to Treble Cone in NZ two summers ago, and that was perfect, low-key and awesome.  

 

Thoughts?

post #2 of 9

Las Lenas has the best lift served skiing in South America, but it's a bit of a pita to get too!  For a couple such as yourselves, If your just going for a week? I would point you to Portillo, with maybe a day of cat skiing at Ski Arpa.

 

For single guys, I would still go to Las Lenas, for reasons totally unrelated to skiing.

post #3 of 9

I've been to Cerro Catedral/Bariloche(Argentina) and Valle Nevado(Chile) and can recommend both.

 

there is an international airport in Bariloche so getting there won;t be too tough.  If exchange rate is still good(was 3.5 to 1), it;s a tremendous value-you can spend and eat like a king.  Steak and leather goods are their best values.  the town is 45 minutes away from the ski slopes and the town has lots of restaurants and a casino.  you take commuter bus to the ski slopes every morning(ala Jackson Hole).  since it;s off a lake, resembles Lake Tahoe in my opinion.  as for the terrain, I thought it was pretty decent, not the most challenging but large enough to be interesting for a week.  lots of old lifts though but a couple of high speed quads.  not the highest altitude but since we got snow before we got there(an avalanche took out a mid mountain lodge!) we had a weird wind blowing that automatically "groomed" the snow in the upper parts of the mountain giving us the appearance of fresh tracks on one side of the mountain face and wind scoured hardpack on the other.

 

at Valle Nevado, it was an all inclusive resort so food was included.  sort of like a cruise ship it;s buffet food, you could pay more to eat in the separate sitdown restaurants.  Terrain was not difficult and went in the equivalent to our march so we got sort of springish conditions and no new snow so it colors my review somewhat.  fairly large too-there are 2 other smaller resorts you can trek into for extra cost.  Chilean money worth more than Argentina money though so not as good a deal.  higher altitude-about 10,000 feet so stay hydrated.  lifts were old too.  trip to the mountain was wild-25 people crammed into Airport shuttle buses with ski gear on roof going up switchbacks(not circling the mountain).

 

Haven;t been to las Lenas yet.  reputation is to be the biggest and baddest mountain in the southern hemisphere and maybe the world.  but before you book, need to observe the weather and lift reports closely.  the notorious Marte lift is a fragile lift prone to wind hold, break downs and generally not running.  was observing ski reports last year and for some reason Cerro Catedral had a banner snow year but Las Lenas not so much.  Your mileage may vary....

 

Goodluck!

 

post #4 of 9

Consider weather patterns. With the current La Nina trend, the Santiago resorts (Portillo, Las Lenas) will struggle for coverage. Best to head further south.

 

In an El Nino year, you'll love Portillo.

post #5 of 9

I wouldn't book any of them, until they have a base.  

post #6 of 9

more or less...

 

June=December

July=January

August=February

September=March

 

snow starts to fall in June.  I have been there during labor day last weekend of August into 1st week of September.  got springish conditions both times.

 

some time in August, I believe all the school children have winter recess/spring break so you have lots of kids hanging out, wearing matching ski outfits and generally not skiing but just making the beginner slopes crowded.  apparently the parents pay for a spring break trip and it;s a big deal out there.

 

i wouldn;t bother booking early unless you get a good deal on airfare.  like the west coast ski areas, they have more ski area than people to ski it so lodging is never sold out.

post #7 of 9

Check out Ski South America at www.skisouthamerica.com.au for loads of content on the South American resorts including mountain details, lodging options, galleries, snow reports and heaps more.

 

Having spent a number of years living in the Andes, August is generally the best time to visit for good snow and less crowds

Cheers

post #8 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by tekweezle View Post

 

i wouldn;t bother booking early unless you get a good deal on airfare.  like the west coast ski areas, they have more ski area than people to ski it so lodging is never sold out.


Not true for Portillo, which typically sells out for every ski week.
 

 

post #9 of 9

I wrote 2 feature articles based upon my trips.

2005 in Las Lenas: http://www.firsttracksonline.com/News/2006/7/17/Las-Lenas:-A-Ski-Resort-Guide/

2007 in Portillo/Arpa/Valle Nevado: http://www.firsttracksonline.com/News/2008/7/24/Great-Skiing-Options-in-Chile-Lie-Close-to-Santiago/

 

 

Quote:
I wouldn't book any of them, until they have a base.

Sage advice, given these resorts have the most volatile snowfall data I've ever seen.  Portillo's annual snowfall has ranged from a high of 729 inches to a low of 44. Average is 254 inches.

 

Quote:

Consider weather patterns. With the current La Nina trend, the Santiago resorts (Portillo, Las Lenas) will struggle for coverage. Best to head further south.

 

In an El Nino year, you'll love Portillo.

Also correct.  

 

Quote:
for some reason Cerro Catedral had a banner snow year but Las Lenas not so much.

That would be the La Nina, which became very strong by the first of August 2010.  But Catedral in general is very unreliable for snow and gets a lot of rain at its lower elevations.


Quote:
some time in August, I believe all the school children have winter recess/spring break so you have lots of kids hanging out, wearing matching ski outfits and generally not skiing but just making the beginner slopes crowded.  apparently the parents pay for a spring break trip and it;s a big deal out there.

No. The holiday period that impacts crowds and lodging prices is mid-July to maybe first weekend of August.  

 

Quote:

June=December

July=January

August=February

September=March

Not quite the way we view it in western North America or the Alps, where average snowfall is similar across those 4 months.  For Las Lenas average August snowfall is < 2/3 of July and average September snowfall is < 2/3 of August. By mid-September you're likely to have northern April conditions, particularly when you consider that Portillo's latitude is = San Diego and Las Lenas' = Taos.  

 

Quote:
the notorious Marte lift is a fragile lift prone to wind hold, break downs and generally not running.

Marte is open about 40% of the time.  Las Lenas without Marte is about the size of Treble Cone.  With Marte it reminded me of Grands Montets at Chamonix.

 

Quote:
I have been there during labor day last weekend of August into 1st week of September.  got springish conditions both times.

This is the timing of the Extemely Canadian trips to Las Lenas.  For that particular area it's probably the best time to commit in advance.  You're there for the terrain more than the powder.  With a big dump Marte will be down for a while, and by the time avy control work is done the powder may be history due to the sun or the wind.

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