The Biggest Snow Events Ever Recorded in the Andes Mountains and the Best Places to Ski

Kiley Chrisman |
John Bukack Heli skiing with Valle Nevado Heli in the Chilean Andes. Image: Valle Nevado

It’s ski season in the Andes Mountains, and things are finally starting to fill in. The Southern half is a great way to get some powder turns in during your offseason!

The snowpack in the Andes is as inconsistent as it gets. Some years it is blessed with constant snow cycles, and other years resorts struggle to open for the season. But every so often, the Andes are blessed with storms that drop hundreds of inches of snow in a matter of days. Here are some of the deepest years on record in the Andes Mountains:

Historical Snowfall


On August 9 and August 16, 1965, a storm that moved in from the Pacific Ocean dumped almost 20 feet of snow on the Chilean Andes and triggered avalanches that destroyed entire towns. By the time the storm had ended seven days later, Ski Portillo had lost every chair lift on the mountain.


One of the largest snowstorms in South American history rolled through the Andes mountains of Chile and Argentina in early June 2015 and dropped up to 10 feet of snow in seven days. The storm closed the Los Libertadores Pass between Santiago, Chile, and Mendoza, Argentina, for 15 days. Totals on the Los Libertadores Pass were over 13 feet deep.


While the world was shut down in the summer of 2020, Chile was experiencing one of its best winters in decades. Mendoza City, Argentina, recorded five feet of snow, which is the highest amount of snow ever recorded in the city that early in the season, according to the Argentine National Weather Service. Corralco in Chile registered snow totals in excess of 13 feet during the first week of July. Experts have said that this is the most snow Argentina has ever seen this early in the season.

Best Snow in the South

Ski Portillo, Chile  

Average Snowfall: 320 in

Current Snowfall: 66 in

Elevation: 8,360–10,860 ft 

Located in the Andes Mountains of Chile by the legendary Lake of the Inca, Ski Portillo is known for its steep and expert terrain similar to the Alps. Ski Portillo’s treeless terrain combines lengthy groomed runs with big mountain skiing. There are runs for all skill levels, but it caters especially well to the advanced skier. There are only 500 hectares of terrain in-bounds, but Portillo boasts a good amount of side-country. 

Ski Portillo
The steeps at Portillo. Image: Ski Portillo

Nevados de Chillan, Chile 

Average Snowfall: 272 in 

Current Snowfall: 40 in 

Elevation: 5,053–10,538 ft 

Also located in the Andes Mountains of Chile, Nevados de Chillan is about 5 miles up the hill from the town of Las Trancas. It’s one of the largest ski resorts in South America, offering over 10,000 skiable acres and the option to hike up to the summit of Vulcan Chillan at 10,535-feet with the for a 5,280-vertical-foot run.

Skiing the second biggest mountains in the world! Image: Nevados de Chillan

Cerro Catedral, Argentina 

Average Snowfall: 187 in 

Current Snowfall: 50 in

Elevation: 3,639–7,149 ft 

Catedral Alta Patagonia is a well-known ski resort located near Bariloche in the Patagonia region of Argentina. It includes over 3,000 acres of riding and has the largest lift-accessed ski terrain in South America. The Catedral terrain park is one of the largest and most established parks in all of South America. The southern side of the mountain provides access to the resort’s backcountry, which consists of steep chutes, open bowls, and cliff bands.

The top of Cerro Catedral with a huge Sun Dog. image: Snowbrains

Las Lenas, Argentina 

Average Snowfall: 167 in 

Current Snowfall: 70 in

Elevation: 7,349-11,254 ft

Las Lenas Resort has some gnarly terrain. Which is why it attracts pro skiers from across the world. With more than 18,000 acres of skiable terrain, Las Leñas is one of the biggest ski resorts in South America. What makes Las Lenas special is the Marte Chairlift, a slow double chair that gives you access to 3,936 vertical feet at an elevation of 11,254. It’s a real playground for experts.

South America is home to the longest mountain range on Earth. The Andes gets big snow, and it has some of the highest mountains in the world outside the Himalayas along with some of the best skiing around.  The South American powder machine runs during the northern hemisphere’s hot summer months, so if ur looking to rip powder in July,  you gotta get down there. 

Las Leñas is a real off-piste playground. Image: SnowBrains

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