I spent two months skiing in South America this summer, and it was fun! My trip took me to Nevados de Chillan for two weeks, Las Leñas for a month, and the Cordon del Plata for a week. I’ve been coming down here for nine years now, which makes me feel kind of old, but also very fortunate.
The majority of these photos were taken by Moritz Morlok. Thanks Boyscout!
I arrived in Santiago in the middle of August. Typically I head straight to Las Leñas, but things were looking a bit dry and warm there, so I decided to go south to Nevados de Chillan instead. I’ve been hearing good things about Nevados in recent years, and it seems to be the new snowiest place in the Andes, so I figured it was high time I checked it out.
We arrived to high pressure and a mediocre base, with a storm in the forecast. We spent a couple days touring around and skiing volcanoes, which was neat.
Nevados de Chillan is a nice little place. It has plenty of medium angle volcanoey terrain, with a few surprises hidden here and there. And it does seem to get more consistent snowfall than just about anywhere else in the Andes.
After a couple days of touring, our storm arrived, so we skied powder.
It stayed sunny for awhile, so we explored some different terrain and some hot springs.
As the next low pressure system arrived, we decided it was time to move on. Nevados was fun, but I couldn’t stop thinking about home:
I’ve been coming to Las Leñas for a lot of years, and I really love it there. It feels like a second home to me.
Oh yeah, BUT: it never snows, it blows 100mph every day, Marte opens once a month, the off piste never opens, it’s packed with gringos, it’s more expensive than Norway, and there’s no “culture”. So don’t come here.
We arrived with the next storm, and skied around for a few days in snow and clouds. The storm came in incredibly wet and heavy, sticking to everything and leaving quite a bit of accumulation up high.
Then, it got sunny, and Marte opened. With one storm, Las Leñas had gone from low base to high base on the upper mountain. Some lines were filled in better than they have been in years. Pillow lines had formed on Clasico, which I’m not sure if I’ve ever seen before.
Here are a couple videos from my buddies Adri and Dorian from that day. They kill it.
Once the powder cloud had settled, it was time to get to work ticking off classic lines in the high alpine around Las Leñas. These were some of my favorite days of the year.
After a whole lot of powder skiing, spring arrived, and the corn cycle began. What the Andes lack in great powder, they usually make up for in great corn, and this season was no exception. I think we had two weeks of great spring days. We would start the day with a quick hike to some bigger north facing couloir or line, then head back to Marte and ski as many front side and south wall laps as possible before the mountain closed. With big vertical on steep, rocky runs, day in and day out, I felt like I was skiing stronger than I have in years.
All too soon, the season in Las Leñas came to a close. After the resort closed, it snowed again, and the valley was once again blanketed in white. Unfortunately, the resort had decided that all terrain in and around the valley of Las Leñas would be closed, and ski patrol and security were out enforcing this policy. It seemed wrong to leave the valley covered in unskied powder, but there was nothing else to do.
After a couple days in Mendoza, we decided to head up to the Cordon del Plata, which you can read about here.
It was another great season in South America, and I can’t wait for more. Winter in the northern hemisphere is just around the corner…
3 thoughts on “2014 South America Recap: Nevados de Chillan and Las Leñas”
Great report dude! So happy you are continuing the family tradition of off piste ski adventure!
Loved your video on high altitude trek and extreme ski down. Bon Chance jeune homme!