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Las Lenas

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 
Anybody here have any details? Thinking about going there next summer.

I went to laslenas.com. Here's my questions:

How big is it in acres?

It looks like there's lotsa expert terrain. True?

Any recommendations on travel packages, companies that book reservations there?

Thanks a bunch1
post #2 of 5

Mainstream season goes from July thru mid Sept. My suggestion is end of August or 1st week in Sept which is equivilent condionwise to end of February or 1st week in March here - best chance for best snow.

It's difficult to get to. Other than a 15 hour bus ride from Buenos Aires, you can fly into a small city, San Rafael, and about 3-4 hours ride southwst or take the twice weekly plane (chartered by the resort) which flys into Malargue then transfer to a bus for an hour to the resort. Half your cost of the trip will be just travel.

I haven't been to NZ yet, but Las Lenas is far away the best i've seen so far in the southern hemisphere. It has more steep s**t than Portillo - and it's backcountry just goes forever. Don't think anyone could cover it in just one season.

pros: Nice, small (only about 3200 people including employees) remote, self-sufficient resort. Friendly (and beautiful!) people - it's hard not to leave a piece of your heart there. No one skis off piste here except foreigners which means just you and a few others share all the untracked. Severe, exposed terrain with consequences - there are FEW places inbounds in North America that have as rugged terrain. It's in the same realm of Alagna and La Grave.

Cons: All above tree-line so no contrast whatsoever on days with dirty light. It's at the top of the Andes on the continental divide so the storms that roll in off the pacific not only can dump a lot of great snow, but can shut the bulk of the skiing down for days because of lasting avalanche conditions and poor visability. Unless they've fixed Volcano, there is really only just ONE lift of any value at the resort - Marte. It's in such extremely exposed terrain that it's affected greatly by avalances and the weather - if it's down, you'll be hiking to get to the goods. Oh... and the local beer, "Kilmey", sucks.

Summary: I would only recommend it to people who gravitate to backcountry and technical terrain. Bring your b/s/p - and a partner. It doesn't have the variety and user friendliness of Portillio, Valle Nevado, Bariloche, etc.. If you do go there, plan no less than two weeks - it's one of those once-in-a-lifetime trips that can't be crammed into a single week or you'll just end up having to go back again... I know I will

post #3 of 5
Thread Starter 

Way to go!

1)I'm in great shape, but not much for hiking. A friend of mine put it well, "You pay for a lift ticket..."

So can you get to the really great terrain from lifts? Is the killer stuff inbounds?

2) I don't plan on falling. But is the killer terrain partrolled or should I bring a friend?

3) Right now, I'm planning on flying solo. Yes, that's about the time I'll go. ABasin closes in July (hopefully), so that'd give me about a 3 week break, then back on the boards. Yes, I was planning 2 weeks (16 days actually. 2 days for travel).

I was going to post about February to see if I could rally some folks. Sounds like you and I ski the same stuff. Wanna go?

4) Portillo sounds to me to be a little "softer". So if you had your choice, and you love to ski the tough stuff, would you go to Portillo or Las Lenas?

5) Good point about the flat light and getting socked in. I guess that's the chance you take. If it happens, I could always go back. Damn. I hate it when that happens.

6) On the libations, very important. Do they sell Coors? Domestic beer? Can you get a Jack and Coke?

Right on, man. Thanks!
post #4 of 5
The "domestic" beer outside the US is Bud. I think it's a national disgrace just like the omnipresent McDonalds and dubbed versions of Baywatch.

I can speak to Valle Nevado. It's far easier to get to than anything in Argentina. Nonstop flights from at least NYC, Miami, Dallas to Santiago. Very modern airport with no hassles other than the cash $62 US dollar entry fee. Even the ATM machines worked perfectly. 8 hours overnight flight to/from Miami. It's a 2+ hour van ride to the resort. It's a very purpose-built modern French ski resort feel. 3 hotels, 2 condos in the complex. The on-piste skiing is nothing special... quite intermediate. There's great off-piste... especially if you ski down to the road below the resort from the surface lift to el Colorado. It interconnects with both el Colorado and La Parva so there are a lot of acres. You can see all the pricing at http://www.vallenevado.com

The comment about flat light applies to all the South American resorts. It's ski-by-braille whenever it's not sunny.

There's no particular need for a tour operator. All you'd need is airline, hotel booking, and airport transportation.

You could save money on lodging by staying at el Colorado or La Parva. If you stayed down in Santiago, you could do the hotel much cheaper but it's 2 hours on a road that closes on powder days.

Portillo has a similar setup to Valle Nevado. Completely self-contained. A couple hours from Santiago. One stop shopping.

Personally, I had a better time in New Zealand. You're not trapped at the resort and you have ultra-friendly Kiwis instead of Chileans who think all Americans have the bank account of Donald Trump. It might have been different if I were fluent in Spanish. I could see doing another NZ trip split between Mt. Hutt, Treble Cone, and Queenstown.
post #5 of 5
Quilmes is a fairly decent beer.
I would agree with Cheaps that the best bet is to fly into the closest airport. The Pampas can be quite boring to drive through. The terrain at LL looked great when i was there, i couldn't find any boots the one day i could have hiked to some snow. I will definitely return to this area again, when it is ski season.
Do yourself a favour and spend a couple days in BA, its an amazing city. I second the heart thing...
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