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Where is the best place to ski in July?

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 

Advanced skier here, trying to plan a summer ski trip with my buddy who snowboards(also advanced).  We were thinking Las Lenas or Portillo, but no plans are definite.  Where else is good during the summer?  New Zealand is more expensive to fly to and the mountains don't look as huge as S. America.  Is this true?  We want powder, steeps and advanced/expert terrain- no park necessary.  I also do not care about fancy lodging/etc, we just want to get the best skiing in we can without spending the heli/guide loot.  Anyone have any ideas or experiences positive or negative?

Any tips/tricks about anything travel/ski related are welcome.

Thanks.

post #2 of 6

@Tony Crocker

 

Has covered this in these articles below

 

 

http://www.firsttracksonline.com/2006/07/17/las-lenas-a-ski-resort-guide/

 

 

http://50.87.144.177/~bestsnow/El_Nino.htm

 

 

There is an El nino brewing so this may be the year to go

post #3 of 6

Avoid Southern Hemisphere skiing in July.  All of these places have erratic snowfall so August is the safest month with early September being reasonable in the higher altitude places like Portillo and Las Lenas. 

 

July is also the holiday season in South America so prices and crowds are worst, sort of like Christmas Week here.

 

The El Nino is pure speculation at this point.   It's exact neutral now and our spring is its least stable time of year.   

 

South America's snowfall is more volatile than the MOST volatile places here (the California Sierra).  Bad seasons are every bit as bad as what Tahoe experienced this year.  So it makes some sense to wait a for year that gets off to a strong early start in May/June, then book for August/early September. 

post #4 of 6
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tony Crocker View Post
 

Avoid Southern Hemisphere skiing in July.  All of these places have erratic snowfall so August is the safest month with early September being reasonable in the higher altitude places like Portillo and Las Lenas. 

 

July is also the holiday season in South America so prices and crowds are worst, sort of like Christmas Week here.

 

The El Nino is pure speculation at this point.   It's exact neutral now and our spring is its least stable time of year.   

 

South America's snowfall is more volatile than the MOST volatile places here (the California Sierra).  Bad seasons are every bit as bad as what Tahoe experienced this year.  So it makes some sense to wait a for year that gets off to a strong early start in May/June, then book for August/early September. 

Thanks, this helps.  I have no problem going any month May-August.  Can you recommend where?  It does not have to be S America, though it looked amazing, anywhere that has great skiing will do.  Are the Alps/Japan good in May/June?  If you could do a summer ski trip anywhere (non-heli) where would you go?

post #5 of 6

Japan's snowfall is concentrated midwinter.  Locals say March in Japan is like April in North America.  So late spring in Japan is good only for backcountry touring to the high Japan Alps above lift service or on Mt. Fuji.

 

For pure ski quality the Alps in May/June are no better than the late places here like A-Basin, Snowbird, Whistler, Bachelor and Mammoth.  Most May/June skiing in the Northern Hemisphere should be viewed as an adjunct to other tourism IMHO.

 

To some degree this applies to the Southern Hemisphere trips in August/September also, due to erratic snowfall ski conditions and the expense of traveling that far.  All 7 of my Southern trips have been roughly half skiing, half other activities. 

 

In terms of lift served terrain quality Las Lenas is in a class by itself in the Southern Hemisphere, reminded me some of Grands Montets at Chamonix.  Everywhere else is more similar in scale to mid or smaller scale areas in North America.  However the lift that serves 80% of Las Lenas runs only 40% of the time due to storms, wind exposure and not always competent management.  But if you want the big mountain skiing, Las Lenas is where you should go, maybe for 2 weeks to increase the odds you  get Marte open at least a few days.

 

With the exception of Bariloche, which has VERY unreliable snow, South American resorts are isolated in the mountains with not much to do on down days. 

 

I wrote a feature on Chile's skiing within easy range of Santiago also:

http://www.firsttracksonline.com/2008/07/24/great-skiing-options-in-chile-lie-close-to-santiago/

That trip I combined with 9 days in Peru including hiking the Inca Trail.  After that it was no problem sleeping/skiing at 9,400 feet in Portillo or 9,900 at Valle Nevado.   After the Las Lenas trip we went to Iguazu Falls and Rio.

 

On the Chile trip I did not get to Chillan (6 hours south of Santiago), which probably gets the most snow of South America lift service.

 

New Zealand works easier for the "mixed vacations" combining with other activities.  You are a staying in resort towns, not in the mountains, so there are lots of things to do on bad weather days, particularly in an adventure center like Queenstown.  And on the way you can go to prime tropical destinations during their pleasant winter dry season like Fiji, Tahiti or Australia's Great Barrier Reef.

 

I collaborated on an overview of New Zealand skiing: http://www.firsttracksonline.com/2006/12/31/kia-ora-new-zealand/  and later wrote a more detailed report on some areas accessible from Christchurch, the main international gateway on South Island. http://www.firsttracksonline.com/2011/06/17/new-zealand-skiing-snowboarding-canterbury-hutt-olympus-broken-river-porters/

post #6 of 6

Ski season relevant to the school holidays for NZ this year are 5th July to the 20th July and the 27th September to the 12th October (the snow will be stuffed by then). Australian school holidays start a week earlier and overlap by one week. I'd avoid all three weeks it will be a zoo. We do have big mountains, but it is generally heli-serviced terrain. You will find good steeps and advanced terrain, but the ski areas are tiny compared to destination US / Canadian resorts. Being a long skinny island nation surrounded by lots of ocean we basically don't get light powder. Depending where you go you will get un-tracked fresh. There are no hotels/condos on mountain. There are a couple of good omnibus websites http://snow.co.nz/ and http://www.chillout.co.nz/ that might help.

 

It's too early really to tell what our season will be like, fingers crossed for a good one.

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