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Las Lenas, Argentina or Portillo, Chile?

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
Which would you chose (if you cannot do both), and why?
post #2 of 10
Hi IceKing, where are you from?

I guess you can do both, but when it comes to terrain, Las Lenas is the steepest. Also has the largest lift-served off-piste terrain in the world.
Portillo is the best resort in Chile. You´ll get dry and deep powder because of its altitude(top 11,000 ft). Great hikings available.
post #3 of 10
Thread Starter 
CS I'm european.

I see you are from Agentina, tell me about Las Lenas, can you compare it to any european or Nth American resorts?
post #4 of 10
I have skied LasLenas and Portillo.Portillo is a beautiful ski area though not nearly as large or steep as Las Lenas. Both areas are entirely above timberline. Andean weather can be a problem, i.e. high winds and/or snow as well as avalanche danger can shut down the upper mountain at LL for days at a time. I have been to LL seven times since 1987 always for 2 weeks at a time. Though powder is a possibility and can be fantastic typically there is a lot of wind effected snow. September is the best time to go to LL for the following reasons, 1)lowest winds historically 2)deepest snowpack 3)fewest people 4)lowest prices. Las Lenas has the best and steepest off-piste skiing in North or South America. They have a very good avalanche control system consisting of Gasex cannons and Cadex motorized bomb trams though in my opinion they don't always utilize them to the extent that they should.The randonee opportunities are unlimited . The lift served terrain is so extensive that there really is no reason to go touring unless you want the exercise. If you want moguls this is not the place. Las Lenas has no glaciers as the area is a high desert in the summer. Most of the clientele are South Americans who seem to go on ski trips to wear their fur coats and moon boots.Very few people ski off-piste. Given the varying aspects it is possible to ski corn and powder on the same day. I have skied quite extensively in Europe(La Grave,Verbier,Trois Vallees,etc. The big difference is Las Lenas has very few people skiing off piste. No town no ski bums. Be prepared to get shut down by mother nature occasionally. Also the lifts are all old fixed-grip style(slow). There is a very good book available at the resort called Ski In Las Lenas which comes with three maps and describes the off -piste terrain quite well. I hope this info is useful. The skiable lift served vertical is 4000ft.(1200+meters) Elevation is 7000+to 11250ft.
post #5 of 10
Thread Starter 
Thanks sounds like you'd favour Las Lenas then?
If you had to compare it to a european resort which one would it be? I have skied all the resorts you've mentioned & some others.
post #6 of 10
Definitely Las Lenas over Portillo if you are a serious skier. The Cruising isn't bad either.Las Lenas has big steep faces and bowls of 3000+ vert. as well as numerous long steep couloirs up to 50+degrees. This is comparable to anything I have experienced in Europe but without glacial issues. Though I only skied Andermatt in a lean snow year some Swiss skiers I know have compared the two when Andermatt is going off big.I have never seen any area in Europe with such a high concentration of easily accessed steep terrain as LL.
post #7 of 10
I second Donnyb in everything. He´s right about the terrain, it´s the steepest in South America, the off-piste accesed by the Marte chairlift offers literaly hundreds of chutes, bowls and couloirs. If you want to hike, the Cerro Martin and Torrecillas are 40 - 60 minutes away from the Iris surface lift.
September is the best time to visit Las Lenas. I believe the best time is right after the "Santa Rosa" snowfall, usually from August 30 to September 4 or so. Las Lenas is about timing: snowstorms and wind can have the resort closed for a few days.
I believe Las Lenas has an excellent avalanche control system. In fact, last season they brought two army cannons to work on avalanche control besides the Gasex and Cadex. This mountain has many avalanche prone areas, but even when you have to wait a couple of days till the hole mountain is open you´ll be safe. They won´t let you ski or ride anything untill there´s no avalanche risk.
Due to "El Nino" we are expecting huge snowfalls this season. The Pacific gets warmer sending us tons of snow.
As I was working in Las Lenas in ´97 (an El Nino year) we got an early snowstorm that gave us 3 metres of snow in 4 days!! That was crazy, but the skiing was the best I´ve ever had.

If you ask me, and as Donnyb said, if you´re a serious skier, head down to Las Lenas this winter!

I´ll be in Las Lenas this season. Maybe we can hook up for some powder day in the Andes.

Think Snow!!
post #8 of 10
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the offer.
My window of oppurtunity is probably July/August, & that last weekend in August might also be out of the question, but we'll see how things pan out.
post #9 of 10
If you're time limited, Chile is much more accessible. It's 2 hours and change from the airport in Santiago to either Portillo or Valle Nevado. There are 8-hour overnight flights from Miami that hit Santiago at 7am. You can be skiing by 11:00. On your last day, you can ski all day and still catch the 9pm flight back to Miami. Las Lenas requires a travel day in each direction.
post #10 of 10
The most important part is that Argentina is MUCH, MUCH, MUCH cheaper than Chile (this year).

PS I'll be there for three weeks this year. Yipppppppeeeeeeee!
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