July 31 – August 2: Our first group of the South American winter arrived on July 31st, 2013. We headed up to the Tres Valles region and rallied around the groomers of La Parva & Valle Nevado. Off-piste was coral reef conditions and still relatively boney. None the less it was good to get the ski legs back underus and La Parva is one of the best resorts in Chile for fun long cruising action.
August 3rd- A storm began to move in and we were on the road to Nevados de Chillan to catch it!!!!
August 4th -This Pacific front unleashed, and the entire afternoon and evening it stormed hard. Although almost all the lifts were shut down this did not deter us from hiking a ways up the mountain for fresh inbounds tracks. Guests were absolutely plastered in Andean POW!!!!
August 5th the skies broke open and we were treated to a 5 star bluebird pow-tastic day at Nevados. Elephante was prime, however a German snowboarder who poached our line found out about lurking hazards below and fell into a deep hole. Fortunately he was not injured and received some serious instant karma. Lower Pirigallo was also super rica with styrofoamy, dry Andean snow. Again there are still serious terrain hazards in the exit gullies so all riders should be aware of these.
August 6th The storm settled back in for its heaviest event. Most everything was shut down and again we hiked our ways up the resort to earn our fresh turns for the day. That evening it really unloaded and the base area received 45 inches by morning.
August 7th Still dumping!!!! From the High Andes of Ski Arpa & Portillo to the southern volcano region of Chillan & Pucon, Chile and the Andes were getting pounded!!! Roads were closed, few lifts were turning but the snow was accumulating rapidly and building a much needed base throughout South America.
August 8th: Our group headed north to Ski Arpa. We were supposed to ski at Portillo but I knew the road would be closed so called my good friends at Ski Arpa to fit us in. You can never count on the Chilean road crews to get roads open quickly, but the boys at Arpa worked hard through the night with their bobcat to get the road open for us this morning. Quite a feat if you’ve ever been here and you know what a wild road it is. When we arrived there were only 3 tracks on all of the terrain. Visibility came and went but the afternoon turned out to be spectacular. We got 5 snow-tastic runs in Sachacorcho & Cocina.
August 9th: We saved the best for last!!!! Today was one of those days in the Andes that you cherish forever. Totally bluebird, pow everywhere, and minimal wind. Visiting Arpa on a day like today is a gift. One can see the highest peak in the Americas, Aconcagua, to the east in Argentina, and to the west the Pacific coast horizon line, thus enabling you to see across the entire country of Chile. The Arpa lads continued to open more terrain and we were the first group to take the cat up into Tony’s Bowl. Lower Ratonera was EPIC!!!!!!!
Nevados de Chillan August 12, 13 & 14
These were some of the best days I’ve had in South America. I arrived to Nevados late on the night of the 11th. It had been snowing hard the last couple of days and I knew the weather was going to break on Monday morning the 12th. Our timing was impeccable as we rolled up to the Nono lift just as it starting spinning. The midway bowls under the Don Otto were completely untracked with velvety smooth Andean pow. By the time we got this first lap in the Otto opened and we cycled Pirigallo laps all morning. Then it was off to the Pirigallo fingers, super fun west facing spines with several fumerole features. Knowing it was heating up I then skinned to the north face of the Pirigallo Valley (we are opposite down here in the Southern Hemisphere so the north faces receive the most sun)’ and tagged this 2000 foot face. Back up the Otto and out to Valle Hermoso for a couple of ‘soulo’ laps of south facing dry powder. The 13th was all about touring in Valle Niebla and Valle Hermoso. When we arrived no tracks were in either valley other than the 2 runs I did the day before. What a treat!!!!! Back for more on the 14th and were blessed with 2 resident condors sailing above us on the Pyramid Peak. We hit a great cycle of bluebird days and pow-tastic conditions!!!!
August 18, 2013 – Bluebird day at Portillo. No wind, deep blue skies and super fun spring snow with a mixture of south facing chalk and north facing corn. We worked the Roca Jack and Cara-Cara slingshot lifts in the am and after a mandatory stop at Tio Bob’s moved over to the Condor slingshot for a couple of lake runs in the afternoon. Portillo is definitely one of the most spectacularly located ski resorts in the Andes.
August 19, 2013 – Bluebird day at Ski Arpa. Today we headed back up into the Valley of the Harp and Ski Arpa. The guides were kind enough to save our CASA group freshies in Avalanchas and El Cirque to end our day. Ratoneras and Tony’s Bowl were variable but if you found the right variableness the snow was soft and spongy. Once again the CASA group celebrated the day with an epic Arpa après session!!!
August 21, 2013 – Storming at Nevados de Chillan. Most of the mountain operations were shut down today, so our group went for a walk up the mountain and some untracked in the Chuecos bowls. This rogue full moon storm was the perfect refresher as the slopes here were getting pretty firm and icy the last couple of days. Fortunately the storm came in without substantial wind and started warm and finished cold leaving the mountain draped in a velvety snow blanket.
August 22, 2013 – Bluebird at Nevados de Chillan. Today our group reaped the benefits of the past day’s rogue storm. About 6 inches of velvety Andean pow covered the mountain and while there were the occasional scratchy turns particularly on north facing slopes most of the mountain skied powtastically!!!! We spent the day lapping the Pirigallo Valley and finished with a final lap in the playful and lunaresque Tres Marias.
August 23, 2013 – Bluebird at Nevados de Chillan. We spent the morning gobbling up powder pitches in Tres Marias while allowing the ridges to warm up for our afternoon adventure in the Nevados backcountry. Our group laid the only tracks down Valle Hermoso and this west facing valley softened perfectly for our late afternoon descent. One of my favorite valleys to ski in the Andes!!!!
August 24, 2013 – Bluebird at Nevados de Chillan. Our normally scheduled departure day got delayed in order to attend to more powder business. This time we headed direct for the Nevados backcountry and one of my favorite circuits; Aquas Calientes & Valle Hermoso. Our drop into Aquas Calientes was the best snow of the week, even days after the full moon storm. This south facing gem was velvety smooth. We toured back up to Valle Hermoso for our final descent of the trip and skied another untracked face and exited with a final ski past the steaming fume roles.