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Where to ski in July besides Portillo

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 

We are looking into skiing in late July this year.  Portillo is the obvious choice, but when I looked at their pricing it's a lot!

 

Any other ideas for Southern Hemisphere skiing?  Argentina perhaps?  We're on the East Coast of the US.

 

Thanks!

post #2 of 19

Las Lenas.  Much bigger area, more vertical, better terrain and an actual base village.  Portillo is pretty much just a hotel at the top of a pass.

post #3 of 19

Both are nice, in different ways.  Bariloche,  I've heard is also very pretty,  with more non skiing activities. 

 

 

I would wait to book, until they have a base. Very little snowmaking in SA. 

post #4 of 19

The way this winter seems to be going maybe Wachusett. 

 

What's the difference in flights like to go to NZ compared to Chile or Argentina, or are you looking South America specific options? What about glacier skiing or some place like Mt. Bachelor?

post #5 of 19

I skied Las Lenas a few years ago, during a winter without much snow, and really disliked it. Very poor infrastructure and boring terrain (like I said, not much snow then). Crowded, too.

 

I skied Portillo a few years before that, and had a much better experience.

post #6 of 19

Right up the road from Santiago are three resorts that are virtually connected - La Parva and Valle Nevado sell a combined ticket - and are pretty good. Valle Nevado caters more to international skiers (i.e., lots of Brazilians, but also Europeans and US). I like the terrain best at La Parva. Farther down south (flight) are Nevados de Chillan (www.http://www.nevadosdechillan.com/) and Corralco (http://corralco.com/centro_ski), which are great. My favorite mountain is Nevados de Chillan, but Corralco is cool because the mountain is a cone-shaped volcano. Portillo is great for the experience of staying at the hotel, eating like a king, or queen, and the views are incredible. If you are lucky and get dumped on, a little hiking can get you to some fantastic couloirs. Check out Chris Davenport and his son shredding Gargantita http://unofficialnetworks.com/2015/08/watch-chris-davenport-crushing-portillo-chile-with-his-son. When it's filled with powder, it doesn't get much better than that. There is always heliskiing, at many of the resorts and also stand alone operations.

 

Whatever you do, try not to come down between the 8th and 23rd of July, when the schools and universities are on winter break. Madhouse.

 

I know Chile, but can't comment on Argentina. I have always wanted to ski Las Leñas, but have heard that the weather is so unpredictable and the wind can shut down the upper mountain for your entire trip. I know many people who have gone to Bariloche, both in the winter and the summer, and loved it. More for the village and the beauty of the place than the skiing, but I'll get there some day.

 

Almost forgot Arpa http://www.skiarpa.com/. Less than two hours drive from Santiago - sort of on the way to Portillo - is a catskiing operation run by a +80 year old Austrian (his son these days, really) that can be great. My profile pic was taken there. There are other cat operations, like at Chillan. The place I'm dying to get to is in Argentina, Baguales http://baguales-patagonia.com/en/. Looks awesome, but I have yet to speak to someone who has gone. Here's a sort of review http://snowbrains.com/real-patagonia-baguales-mountain-preserve-cat-skiing/. More promotional.

Pray for snow. We haven't had a good season in quite a while. I'm kicking myself for not having made a trip to Utah this year.


Edited by AndesRider - 3/13/17 at 10:37am
post #7 of 19

Mammoth might still be open...

 

I'm not sure anywhere in the southern hemisphere is going to be "cheap". Plane tickets are going to be expensive anywhere with skiing. 

 

Tyler mentioned glacier skiing somehwere like Mt. Hood might be a good option as well. 

post #8 of 19

The S American ski areas are generally the best options.  Sking in the N hemisphere is an option at a few places but it's only a few runs.  NZ is another option although the areas are generally smaller that S America.

 

I did a similar analysis a few years back and decided on Bariloche and would recommend it as the best all around destination.  The scenery is fantastic with mountains and several large lakes.  My take on the major S American ski areas:

 

  • Bariloche: most skiing (inbounds) and best scenery.  Good mix of all skiing types.  Great town right on the lake.
  • Las Lenas: a small ski area unless you plan to go into back country.  Best in SA for expert back country skiing
  • Portillo: well known and run like a cruise ship with everything included in one hotel (no town).  Good all around skiing, decent size, not a lot of vertical.
  • Valle Nevado: 3 ski areas interconnected.  Can't recall why I didn't go here but it seems like a good option
  • Chillan: supposed to get the most snow but a pretty small ski area.  Changed owners recently I think.
post #9 of 19
Thread Starter 

Thanks everyone!

post #10 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by skisiempre View Post
 

I skied Las Lenas a few years ago, during a winter without much snow, and really disliked it. Very poor infrastructure and boring terrain (like I said, not much snow then). Crowded, too.

 

I skied Portillo a few years before that, and had a much better experience.

Not sure what part of the area you skied, but "boring terrain" and Las Lenas definitely do not belong in the same sentence.  These two pics are from different sides of the mountain.

 

pbpic4788.jpg99208-Argentina-Lance-copy.jpg

post #11 of 19

ill second bariloche for an argentinian trip...great place to call home base but nothing in town.  closest ski area is catedral (~20km)...within an hour you have some cat skiing and also cerro bayo.  further yet is cerro chapelco and perito moreno.  

 

i was there for a week in 2002 skiing, set up at bariloche as a "home base" and with a rental car hit all these resorts.  

 

although it may not make the most sense with the budget, i would watch and see how the snow develops because if its a lean year, it wont be that much fun...

 

I have some friends who know the area really well, so if you need some other info, feel free to pm me.

 

worst case, the weather is real nice and you can head down to patagonia for some trekking and amazing fly fishing, or stay in buenos aires as a tourist...sure not the goal, but not a bad backup plan either.  I would make the trip again for the steak alone. it is really that good

post #12 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by mudfoot View Post
 

Not sure what part of the area you skied, but "boring terrain" and Las Lenas definitely do not belong in the same sentence.  These two pics are from different sides of the mountain.

 

I think he meant the low snow left only the more boring terrain open. 

 

Also, you might want to check out this extensive trip report from Nevados de Chillan : http://www.epicski.com/t/147239/2016-nevados-de-chillan-trip-report

post #13 of 19
Thread Starter 

It all looks great, but when I add up the price for two people it's just a ton of money.

 

Thinking now about a trip to the PNW and ski Mount Hood and/or Whistler as well as visit the Olympic Peninsula, Portland, etc.

 

So....

 

 

How is Whistler in the Summer and what is the best timeframe to ski there?

post #14 of 19

My wife and I skied Valle Nevado and La Prava.  We stayed in Valle Nevado which offered several different restaurants as well as low/mid and high end lodging.  We stayed in the low end as the mid-level hotel was sold out.  I don't recommend that, though if you stay in the other accommodation it should be great.

 

Valle Nevado had good skiing, but we both liked La Prava.  In mid-August during the week the crowds were non-existant.  It was great.

post #15 of 19

My wife and i skied Baguales a couple years ago.  It is a great place.  We skied one day on cerro catedral which was a bit of a bummer,  there was a cloud on the top and you couldn't see anything.  The lower mountain was unskiable.  It's not uncommon to take the lift DOWN from the middle of the mountain.  The snow at the top was great, i've been told the terrain is great, but we couldn't ski or see at all from the top half of the mountain.  Baguales is all cat skiing (at least when we were there, they may have heli now.)  The lodge there is accessed by a 4 wheel drive vehicle and then on a snow mobile.  It's a nice touch.  The lodge is comfortable and the food is solid.  Views are awesome.  We were the only Americans, there were several Canadians on a girls trip and everyone else were Argentinians on guys trips from Buenos Aires.   The people were awesome.  We did 12-18 runs a day.  They had some snow when were where there but it's one of those places that if the wind blows there's always fresh snow somewhere.  We had the time of our lives.  I would say it seemed like it wasn't that steep.  There were a couple of guys in the group that were very good,  several of the Argentinians had taught skiing in the US but it never seemed like we were on anything too steep.  My wife could ski just about everything.  Bring your own skis!  We are going to try Portillo this year and maybe Arpa.

post #16 of 19
Mt. Bachelor closes the day before Memorial Day although they have left the door open to the possibility of reopening July 4th weekend because of the amount of snowfall received this season. Mt. Hood has the ice field/glacier but most of it is set aside for the summer race camps in June and July and into August.

Mt. Hood lanes off the Palmer ice field/glacier for the different race camps reserving a lane to the public. Recreational skiing in July on Mt. Hood is really more of a novelty as skiing one lane repeatedly can get rather stale after awhile. The snow generally holds up through the morning. Others can better speak to Whistler.

What you might consider is participating in one of the summer race camps at Mt. Hood. Some are open to all ages and abilities. They can be a good way to improve one's skiing and running gates avoids the monotony of skiing only the public lane.
post #17 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by SkiMangoJazz View Post

It all looks great, but when I add up the price for two people it's just a ton of money.

Thinking now about a trip to the PNW and ski Mount Hood and/or Whistler as well as visit the Olympic Peninsula, Portland, etc.

So....


How is Whistler in the Summer and what is the best timeframe to ski there?

Skiing in the summer in n America is a novelty that is fun for a few hours. If you stay in n america, plan some non skiing activities too.

If you go to s America, you have great skiing and cultural diversions too
post #18 of 19

Skied El Colorado/La Parva/Valle Nevada and Catherdal in 2008. Lucked out with really good conditions in Chile and Argentina. Scored a couple powder days in each place. Valle Nevada has really good lift ops, and the drive up from Santiago is crazy. Decent terrain to explore over the 3 areas. There were several ski teams training there. Both from Europe and some younger ski race schools from New England regions. But ski area never felt crowded. We took a shuttle from the airport. Stayed in El Colorado at a hotel with breakfast and dinner. It's not cheap no matter how you slice it.

 

We flew to Buenos Aries after 5 days in Chile. Spent 3 days checking out BA, and then took the 2 hour flight to Bariloche. Town is quaint. Lots of chocolate shops, clubs and restaurants. Best steak I've ever had was in Bariloche.  Best Malbec too. A steak dinner with wine for about $25. Wow! Catherdal is a ski mtn. that reminds me a lot of Bachelor. Above tree line skiing, and down lower tree lined runs. We had good conditions while there, and snow all the way to the base, and actually into town. I guess not normal. We cashed in FF miles to help with the cost. Did a ton of research to keep the costs down. Would love to go back some day when they are having a good season

post #19 of 19

Do NOT advance book skiing in South America for July:

1) Holiday pricing and crowds like Christmas here. Possibly worse because the lift infrastructure is not as modern.

2) Snowfall is a more extreme version of the Sierra: extremely erratic with huge dumps preceded or followed by weeks of clear skies and zero precipitation.  You can be looking at bare ground in early July.  Waiting until farther into the winter increases the odds of one of those dumps happening before you get there. 

 

So the time to take a chance on advance booking is August to early September.  But I would increase the odds a little by waiting until June/early July before committing $$$ to see that adequate snow is on the ground, especially since the last above average season was 2009.  That drought is as severe (some seasons less than half normal snow) and now nearly twice as long as the Sierra drought of 2012-2015.

 

My take on the major S American ski areas:

 

  • Bariloche: Never been. Clearly best resort town and scenery. Least reliable snow by far, leeward of the Andes Crest with partial sunny exposure, low altitude so frequently gets rain on the lower slopes.  Good terrain reputation when everything is open, which is not often.
  • Las Lenas (skied 2005, 2015): Best lift served expert skiing in the western Hemisphere when Marte lift is running and terrain is adequately covered.  Marte serves 80% of the terrain but runs about 40% of the time due to extreme exposure to wind and weather. Are you feeling lucky?  Snow is often abundant up high but intermediate slopes are low for its 35 degree latitude and east facing. The hotels and lifts date to the mid-1980's with minimal updates since then.
  • Portillo (skied 2007): well known and run like a cruise ship with everything included in one hotel (no town). Operated by 3 generations of the American Purcell family, which means more competently than anywhere else in South America.  Medium size and advanced weighted (think Taos or Alyeska), not a large area to spend an entire week especially for intermediates and beginners.
  • Valle Nevado, La Parva, El Colorado (skied 2007): 3 ski areas tenuously interconnected.  Best by far for beginners and intermediates, very little advanced terrain unless you go sidecountry out of bounds.  The 3 areas are not that cooperative so you have to buy an upgrade ticket if you want to ski more than one of them.   Nearly all of the international hotel lodging is at Valle Nevado, which by the way is at 9,900 feet if you are altitude sensitive.   High altitude climate is similar to Portillo and Las Lenas but Valle Nevado gets about 3/4 as much snow as either of those.
  • Chillan: Never been.  Definitely gets the most snow but last year was a bad one there. Lower than Portillo/Valle Nevado so can get some rain. Bigger than Portillo and better terrain mix than Valle Nevado.  Put that together with the snow and some people like MadPatSki say it's their favorite South American area.  Clearly subject to erratic South American management: in-season information is very hard to come by. There's a nice hotel at the base but most visitors seem to stay down valley in Las Trancas and commute.

 

Quote = Toadman:
Would love to go back some day when they are having a good season

From that description, you clearly got a good season or the very best part of one of the more recent seasons.


Edited by Tony Crocker - 3/21/17 at 3:34pm
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