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Heading to the Southern Hemisphere this Summer?

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 

Summer Ski Safaris in the Souther Hemisphere at OnTheSnow.com

 

Phil and I talk about going south for the summer to get some summer ski stoke, but things always seem to get in  the way.  For instance, this summer we're going to my nephews wedding in Tennessee and making stops on the way to see more of our beautiful country. 

When we do take the plunge and plan that trip to the Southern Hemisphere, locations where we know people like Australia or Portillo may make a difference. 

 

I think reading articles like this one are such a tease.  

post #2 of 15

Don't think I'd ever plan on going to Australia over the alternatives, hellishly expensive and poor snow.  A bit like you guys flying to Europe and choosing Scotland over alternatives (Scotland has some extremely wild and beautiful skiing locations and on its day is comparable to anywhere in the world - there just aren't as many of those days as other places).

 

Road trips round Chile (even using buses) are quite easy. Likewise Bariloche/St Martin.  Las Lenas is a bit of a pain from anywhere however unless you fly in.

post #3 of 15

I have written a few features.

 

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

 

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

 

New Zealand Overview (collaboration) : http://www.firsttracksonline.com/2006/12/31/kia-ora-new-zealand/

 

Canterbury NZ Public and Club Areas:  http://www.firsttracksonline.com/2011/06/17/new-zealand-skiing-snowboarding-canterbury-hutt-olympus-broken-river-porters/  

 

I skied a day  in Australia in 1997 when I was there for other reasons, but no it's not a ski destination.  Scale and snow reliability are similar to Southern California. 

 

Quote:
Las Lenas is a bit of a pain from anywhere however unless you fly in.  

True, but it's in a class by itself for Southern Hemisphere terrain quality.

 

New Zealand SHOULD be done as a road trip. Lodging is not at the ski areas and there are lots of other things to do when weather is not cooperative.  

 

The key point of South America is the volatility of snowfall, 50% more than in the Sierra.  I presume Trekchick will take that seriously in view of the past 3 Sierra seasons.   The past 4 seasons in South America?

 

Quote from 2013:
As South America's ski season limps into the home stretch:
Portillo 208 inches season snowfall, base 24-51 inches, today's high temp 68F :shock:
Las Lenas is once again rumored sketchy except at very highest elevations on TGR.

It's Sept. 9. If this were happening on Mar. 9 in the West or the Alps, there would be much moaning about what a disaster of a season. These seasons happen a lot more often down there.  

 

 

Quote from Sept 6, 2012:
Portillo snowfall is 128 inches, that's 4 inches in the past 2 weeks. Base depths 24-47 inches Las Lenas, 4-75 inches Chillan, not much change in those numbers either.  

 

Quote from MadPatSki, who was in Chile Sept 6, 2012:

The lower elevation at Chillan has melted incredibly in the week I was there.

After one week between Nevados de Chillan and Las Trancas, now Im up in and around Santiago. Looking to ski new terrain (El Colorado;s new lifts, more time at La Parva or new smaller ski areas)

I was at El Colorado and crossed over in Valle Nevado for the last run yesterday. Very dry and coverage is minimal. Front face of El Colorado is pathetic looking. 

 

Quote from Sept 8, 2011:
Portillo season snowfall is now 190 inches. From OnTheSnow.com it's the only major area in South America in full operation and the modest base depth range of 23-58 inches is also the highest. Valle Nevado is 45% open, others claim 70-75%, but if Chillan's base depth is really only 20 inches it has not been a good year. Current temperatures in the 50'sF are similar to my experience 4 years ago this week, but with this year's much lower base depths the season could be winding down prematurely. 

Close to half that Portillo snow came in early August the week before Bob Peters was there. Sometimes people get lucky.

 

Quote from Sept 2, 2010:

Snowfall update as of Sept. 2:
Portillo 130 inches
Valle Nevado 155 inches

At Portillo that's 8 inches in the past 4 weeks, base depths 21-32 inches. Not good. 

 

 

In context Portillo averages 254 inches.  The big years can be over 450.

 

 All of this has convinced me that you wait through June/early July to see if an adequate base has been established, then book for August/early September.  My first trip in 2005 there had been major dumps in May and June.  2007 was supposed to be a subsidized press trip. When it was cancelled I had already bought airfare and booked the Inca Trail in Peru before the skiing.  2007 turned out to be an average season but no new snow for 3 weeks before I arrived in Chile.

 

We are seriously considering a 3 week ski safari this season.  There was 3-5 feet last week, with another 2 feet this week at the southern Chilean areas (Chillan, Corralco, Pucon).   If El Nino intensifies, the odds for snow increase significantly at Portillo, Valle Nevado, and Las Lenas.

 

Renting a car should be fairly straightforward in Chile.  If you plan to cross the border into Argentina, the car must have a sticker allowing that, or you will be turned back as Liz was in 2010.  4WD is recommended.  Only the Portillo to Mendoza border crossing is paved.  The crossings east of Corralco and Pucon (gateway to Bariloche/Lake District) are gravel roads. 

 

Having a car if you go to Bariloche is a good idea too. The big area Catedral has a very poor snow reputation.  There are some other places in the region, and the one with the best snow reputation, La Hoya, is 200+ miles south near Esquel.

 

Then there is "The Factor."   Sometimes lifts and terrain don't open in South America when you think they should.  There are also sidecountry/ backcountry options.  You may not want to deal with sketchy roads/logistics in these countries. This is the reason to sign on with a guided trip like Powderquest (featured in the OnTheSnow reference) or Extremely Canadian (my trip to Las Lenas).   But the guided trips are quite expensive.  You can also go cheap like MadPatSki and get everywhere on marathon bus rides.  I'm inclined next time to go the car rental route as a middle ground with the most flexibility. 


Edited by Tony Crocker - 8/2/14 at 1:13pm
post #4 of 15
It's looking like it might be a good time to hit Chile right now!
post #5 of 15

What Tony said. Points south may or may not pan out snow-wise the general way we are used to in NA. But - the places you'd go to ski are usually amazing in their own right or have amazing things nearby. I've found that expecting a "blended" trip lets me skew one way or another depending on what fate hands me. 

 

Plan some non-skiing time in places like Argentina or NZ and you will almost surely have a blast. Not that I'm not about the skiing. Just that these are typically big, long, expensive journeys. And Ullr may or may not be in the house when you arrive. Ot he may have had a few too many ales and the mountains may be shut for a day or three.

 

Making it 100% about the skiing increases the odds of being let down. Making it about a whole mix of things - skiing, people, wildlife, scenery, cultural stuff, history, etc. - almost ensures you'll be blown away (I have been). And with luck get some great skiing too.  NZ is especially easy and friendly.  And packs a whole lot of cool stuff into a small package. My .02 anyway...

 

Oh - and there is always the contrarian approach. Go north. :D  Norway has a few amusing summer ski areas. Not much for super duper skiing. But good fun in some amazing places. I mean how many here have skied in the Home of the Frost Giants? Heck you can go rafting in the morning and then ski in the afternoon. Or do some skiing on your way to or from a fjord that's a UN Word Heritage site.  Or ski during the day and then do a moose tour in the evening. Of course a fast food burger meal is 25 bucks and a beer is 12...  I'm not sure how long the season runs, but Iceland (and I assume Norway) has some pretty sweet corn skiing/touring at the moment.


Edited by spindrift - 6/14/14 at 10:59am
post #6 of 15
Quote:
I've found that expecting a "blended" trip lets me skew one way or another depending on what fate hands me. 

All 7 of my southern trips have been "blended."  For South America, Iguazu and Rio in 2005 after Las Lenas and Peru before Chile in 2007.  We also spent 10 days hiking in Patagonia in 2001 after the Antarctic ski cruise. 

 

Quote:
NZ is especially easy and friendly.  And packs a whole lot of cool stuff into a small package. My .02 anyway...  

+1 on this.  Thus I've had 4 ski trips there even though the skiing rates to be not as good as in South America.  It's easier to have a flexible schedule there when the weather does not cooperate.  And you can arrange to stop en route at Fiji, Tahiti or the Great Barrier Reef during their prime winter dry season, as I've done on all 4 trips.

post #7 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tony Crocker View Post
 

 

True, but it's in a class by itself for Southern Hemisphere terrain quality.

 

 

 from what I hear that's with a caveat of "provided Marte is open".

 

 Actually I'm sure most of your post is spot on - I'd first and foremost regard any ski trip to South America as an adventure first with a bonus if it happened to include great skiing conditions.  I've got a fundamental dirtbag backpacker's attitude (honed in student travel days) towards spendy middlemen getting in the chain to smooth my travel experience - they don't necessarily ensure problems don't happen just you've got someone to explain in reassuring English when they do.   One of the nicest aspects of my trip was getting to hang out with local keen Chilean skiers and rub soulders with pros who just happened to be staying in my humble guesthouse in Pucon.  

post #8 of 15

Hiromi and I are heading to Portillo August 15-23 to ski with Chris Fellows at the North American Ski Training Center (NASTC).  Had a great time training with him at the PSIA National Academy at Snowbird in April.  Given the big dumps Portillo has already received, this may be a good year to go.  Want to join us, Trish?! 

post #9 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mike_m View Post
 

Hiromi and I are heading to Portillo August 15-23 to ski with Chris Fellows at the North American Ski Training Center (NASTC).  Had a great time training with him at the PSIA National Academy at Snowbird in April.  Given the big dumps Portillo has already received, this may be a good year to go.  Want to join us, Trish?! 

Have you read @Chris Fellows book?    Total Skiing

 

He also wrote an article about NASTC in Chile. 

Thanks for reminding me.  I just featured it on the home page. 

http://www.epicski.com/a/portillo-open-your-mind-to-the-full-chilean-mountain-experience

post #10 of 15
Quote:
 from what I hear that's with a caveat of "provided Marte is open". 

Yes, and Marte is open 40% of the time per a former patrol director there.  

Quote:
I'd first and foremost regard any ski trip to South America as an adventure first with a bonus if it happened to include great skiing conditions.

Very true.  Las Lenas is a high risk, high reward destination.  For those for whom terrain quality is top priority, Las Lenas has by far the highest reward.  

Quote:
 Given the big dumps Portillo has already received

 A moderate storm 2 weeks ago, last week's storm went farther south.  Current base depths are probably in the 2 foot range given what's at La Parva now.  That's a long way from what they need, though obviously it's early and the moderate El Nino tips the odds favorably for the season overall.

post #11 of 15

Hi, Trish!

 

Reading it now.  Coming down?  Phil can give the trip to you as a birthday present!

post #12 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mike_m View Post
 

Hi, Trish!

 

Reading it now!  Coming down?

Not this year.  Travel will be limited to a cross country road trip to my nephew's wedding.   

post #13 of 15

I'm usually more of a reader than contributor to this forum.

I'm heading to the NATSC course at Portillo this August too! Looking forward to meeting you there. Sounds like it will be an awesome week!

post #14 of 15

Sounds good!  Do you know who your coach will be?  Any other Bears joining us?

post #15 of 15
I don't know. This is my first time going to a NATSC camp and they didn't tell me who my coach would be... Sounds like it will be an amazing week and I can't wait to go!
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