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Chile Sept-2010: Atacama + Valle Nevado

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 

This has been a very poor snow year for resorts close to Santiago and Mendoza. Places like Portillo, Valle Nevado and Las Lenas weren't blessed with several snow storms and their bases were usually below average along this winter.

Although my favorite time to ski South America is mid-August, this year, due to work and bad snow conditions, my girlfriend and I decided to do a September trip to Chile.

Actually the plan was to visit the Atacama desert, in the northern part of the country, and later spend a few days in a friends house in Santiago for some skiing in Valle Nevado.


We were stoked with the desert views, there are endless hiking and Mt bike opportunities, and an amazing variety of landscapes within a short driving/riding distance.

The Atacama desert is known as the driest and one of the highest deserts on earth, the town of San Pedro de Atacama is located at 8200ft above sea level, in a region full of 19000ft volcanoes, Geysers, Salares...etc.




Vale de La morte





While crossing Valle de La Morte and Valle de La Luna on a Mt Bike, I found this not very welcoming sign... I took the other way.




Cordillera de La Sal





Lincancabur Volcano: 19,423 ft





Flamingos at the Salar de Atacama

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Sunset at the Salar

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Laguna Altiplanicas: these lakes are 14100ft high

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Geyser del Tatio: 14500ft high

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Machuca Pueblo: 13500ft high

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Oh yeah, there was some skiing!

The conditions in Valle Nevado in Early September were spring like, without a very deep base.

But in the afternoon the sun came and made the on-piste skiing soft and forgiven.



Base of the Andes Express




Although the snow was not great, the place was totally quiet, without any lift line.





North facing slopes were in very bad shape...




Of-piste snow quality... as David Hecht described in another TR: "freeze thaw coral reef death snow"



View from Cerro El Plomo from the top of Tres Puntas lift




View from El Colorado resort which is connected to Valle Nevado.





Riding Andes Express




A few bumps from the top of Andes Express (skiers right)






Well, even not getting very good snow conditions, Chile treated us very well again.

Getting to know the desert was a great experience, and Santiago and it's nearby mountains are always a cool ski destination during our winter.

And after all it's skiing, when it's bad it's good, and when it's good it's awesome, right?



Edited by Thiago - 9/20/10 at 2:23pm
post #2 of 7
Thread Starter 

Well well, why the pictures disappeared?

post #3 of 7
Thread Starter 

Ok, here are the pictures.

post #4 of 7

Great shots of the Atacama desert.  Did you mt. bike on your own or did you go with a guided tour?

post #5 of 7

Thiago, thanks for the pictures.   Have skied Portillo and spent almost a week in Santiago and enjoyed seeing the desert etc.

post #6 of 7

Thanks for the pics!  My boss has been going to VN for a race camp the last few years at this time.  They canceled at the last minute this year, may have been the right decision.


post #7 of 7
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by liv4ski View Post

Did you mt. bike on your own or did you go with a guided tour?


I did 2 Mt. Bike tours at the Atacama desert.

The first one was a guided tour to an area called "Garganta del Diablo"  (Gorge of the Devil). This was a 10 mile ride on a kind of a canyon maze at the Cardillera La Sal. The terrain was really nice, a little uphill, with rocks, sand, and a small river that you have to cross... unfortunately my camera run out of battery during this tour, so I have no pictures of it. But I do have a few flip videos.


The second tour I did by myself, after getting a map of the area and asking some local guides for some tips. It was a 28 miles ride crossing Valle de La Morte and Valle de La Luna.

This was a tough tour, after 3 miles I had to hike on a dune pushing the bicycle. But it was worth it. The views were amazing and except for a couple of miles on a paved road between the 2 valleys, the terrain was nice and I could always see other tourists here and there.

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