I just spent the last few days on an exchange at the Huilo Huilo Nature Preserve. Within the reserve is a volcano called Volcán Mocho-Choshuenco that has fantastic terrain, but no lifts. The directors of the foundation would like to encourage people to explore the volcano without building a traditional ski resort. This is the second year in a row I have visited. It's a very special place with great skiing. There is still so much to do!
About 99.9% of the skiing that happens on this mountain takes place on the slopes below the Mocho - the conical peak on the left. There are a handful of ski mountaineers that attempt the summits. It is possible to summit both peaks in one day, but most people aim for the Mocho. The skiing below the Choshuenco is basically still untouched.
This is Mocho from the summit of Choshuenco. Without anything to provide scale, it is really hard to get a sense of what you're looking at. The slopes of the cone are about 750 vertical feet. The plateau is immense and goes all the way around the peak.
This is the summit of Choshuenco. There is a solid 2500 vertical feet of good skiing to be had below this peak. It would require a descent traverse back to the trailhead / road / ski center, but I am convinced it would be worth it.
This is a really special area. The whole reserve is spectacular, with huge lakes, awesome rivers and waterfalls, and tons of potential for adventure sports all year. The foundation has built two fantastic hotels, and is developing the infrastructure for tourism. They don't have proper chairlifts, but they do have a microbrewery with the best beer in Chile! At least they had their priorities right. The idea is to allow people to see the wonders of Patagonia, in a natural setting, without requiring an epic journey and tons of mountaineering experience.
For more information, visit: www.huilohuilo.com.
First tracks anyone?