The Andes Mountain Range in South America is the longest mountain range on Earth. It holds the highest mountains in world outside the Himalayas along with some of the best skiing and riding found anywhere. The Andes also hold the most skiing and riding on Earth with over 1,500-miles of snow-covered, lift-serviced terrain.
There are so many amazing reasons to come ski and ride South America that we decided to list a few for you below.
In case you’re wondering, the answer is no. No, it’s not possible to have a bad time on a South American ski trip.
Experiences are the most valuable things that exist. Nothing can touch them, compare to them, nor take them away.
And don’t forget what Warren Miller has always told you “If you don’t do it this year, you’ll only be one year older when you do.”
…don’t make it two.
Top 10 Reasons Why You Have to Ski South America:
#1. It’s Summertime and You’re Skiing Powder
Do we even have to elaborate on this one? No, we don’t, but we will anyway.
The South American powder machine turns on during the northern hemisphere’s Dog Days of Summer. In the north, they’re hot, bothered, sweaty, sticky, looking like this dog above, and bored out of their minds in August & September. In South America they’re skiing powder, getting faceshots, hooting, hollering, hucking, flipping, spinning, high-five-ing, grinning… Viciously grinning…
#2. South America Gets The Most Snow in the Southern Hemisphere
South America gets big snow. Real big snow most years. Many ski resorts average over 300″ of snow per year in just 3 months of operation. Portillo ski resort in Chile has already seen 270″ of snowfall this year and it’s only July. South America gets more snow than Australia and New Zealand and snow conditions are generally better than Australia and New Zealand. Any questions?
#3. It’s Always Snowing Somewhere in South America
One of the best things about skiing South America is that there’s always good snow somewhere. Ski resorts in South America span from latitude 32ºS all the way down to 54ºS. That’s over 1,500 miles of skiable, lift served, snow covered terrain in the Andes mountains. The Andes mountains offer more skiing and riding than any other mountain range on Earth.
The central Andes hold Las Lenas, Portillo, La Parva, El Colorado, La Parva, Los Farellones, Valle Nevado, Penitentes, Powder South Heliski, and more. The southern Andes hold Catedral, Cerro Bayo, Cerro Chapelco, Caviahue, La Hoya, Cerro Castor, Nevados de Chillan, and more. There’s even a string of ski resorts between the central and southern Andes to catch storm’s in between.
If the place you’re at isn’t working, just hop on a comfy, wine & food serviced 24-hour bus ride and wake up where the snow is. If the bus isn’t your style, just hop on a plane and bam! Powder.
#4. Some of the Best Terrain for Skiing & Riding on Earth
The Andes mountains are huge, rugged, featured, and steep. They hold some of the best skiing and riding terrain on Earth. The ski resorts are great, it’s true. But the backcountry holds mind blowing terrain out of science-fiction novels. The high alpine terrain of central Chile & Argentina is big, remote, exposed, and holds some of the best couloir skiing found anywhere on Earth (think Jackson Hole). The southern Andes are glaciated, lower elevation, snowy, spiny, and enormously featured (think Tahoe/Squaw Valley).
Whatever type of terrain you dig, you’ll find it in the 4,500-mile-long Andes mountains.
#5. The Andes Mountain Range is the Longest Mountain Range on Earth With The Tallest Mountains on Earth Outside of the Himalayas
The Andes mountain range is the longest mountain range on Earth with over 4,500 miles of continuous mountains. Over 1,500-miles of that range is skiable and lift served. If you’re crazy enough, you can also ski & ride on the incredibly high 20,000-foot peaks of Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, Colombia, & Peru. No other mountain range offers more skiing and riding.
Aconcagua sits at 22,838-feet in Argentina, is the highest peak in South America, the highest peak on Earth outside the Himalaya, and one of the “Seven Summits”.
#6. World Class Wine
Malbec is a French grape that has become enormously popular in Argentina and Chile. It’s everywhere and it’s cheap. Real cheap. You can get a quality bottle of malbec, cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay, or merlot in Argentina for about $3usd. Or you can splurge and get a super high end bottle of wine for only $15usd.
Malbec is one of the best wine’s on Earth. In fact, a $6 Chilean Malbec called La Moneda Reserva Malbec sold exclusively at Asda, a British supermarket chain owned by Walmart, just won a platinum “Best in Show” award at the Decanter Magazine World Wine Awards in June 2016.
A well aged Malbec with a juicy Argentine steak you can cut with your fork is about as good as life gets after a sick day on the mountain…
“While acreage of the Malbec is declining in France, in Argentina the grape is surging and has become a “national variety” of a sort that is uniquely identified with Argentine wine. The grape was first introduced to the region in the mid 19th century when provincial governor Domingo Faustino Sarmiento instructed the French agronomist Miguel Pouget to bring grapevine cuttings from France to Argentina. Among the vines that Pouget brought were the very first Malbec vines to be planted in the country.” – wikipedia
#7. World’s Best Steaks
You’ve most certainly heard that Argentina has the world’s best steaks. Lets explain why.
- Argentine’s have their own cuts of beef that they claim are better suited for flavor
- Argentina’s “Asado” slow cooking technique “keeps flavor in”
“The technique of Asado is very different to barbecuing, it’s far slower and puts more emphasis on slightly smoking the beef than sealing it, which according to new research doesn’t “keeps the flavor in”, no matter what some fancy chef says. We never use propane and we only use briquettes to start the fire. Wood is the standard, and BTW you’re going to need a real parrilla made with ceramic thermal bricks or volcanic stones to make asado, black metal BBQs literally burn to the ground after even a small asado since those weren’t designed to resist high temperatures for hours in a row.” – Juan Videla, Argentine steak connoisseur/Forbes
- Argentine cows are free range and they eat grass
Cows in the USA are trapped in feed lots living in their own filth and eating corn, fish, sheep, soy, hay, sawdust, and antibiotics. Cows weren’t meant to eat any of that. Cows were made to eat grass. Grass and exercise makes cows healthy which makes them taste better. Makes sense, right?
“Grass has less saturated fats than grains and more of the healthy omega three fatty acids. And although production results of free roaming cows are harder to control than in feedlots, most experts agree that natural conditions, in which the cows don’t consume antibiotics and growth hormones, are a principal factor in the final quality of the beef.” – argen-times.com
#8. Good Money Conversion Rates
You might just be scrapping by in the north, but in South America, you’re rich! Well, sort of. You were rich the past 4 years when Argentina had the “Blue Dollar” (a black market dollar) that was worth 63% more. Unfortunately the 63% discount on everything in Argentina due to the “Blue Dollar” has come to an end with Argentina’s new president lifting financial controls recently. But it was good while it lasted!!
Things are still cheaper in Argentina and Chile with Argentina being the cheaper of the two, by far.
- Meal at a restaurant = $10.00usd
- Beer at a bar = $2.30usd
- Mid-Range bottle of wine at grocery store = $5.00usd
- Dozen eggs = $2.00usd
- Loaf of white bread (500g) = 1.75usd
Current Conversion Rates at of July 2016:
- 1USD = 15 Argentine Pesos
- 1USD = 660 Chilean Pesos
#9. Cheap Lift Tickets
Lift tickets in Argentina are usually around $60-$65usd during ‘middle season’. That’s about half the price you’ll pay for a lift ticket in North America. South America ski resorts lift tickets have 3 prices, depending on the time of year. July = High Season, when tickets cost around $72usd. August & September = Middle Season when prices are around $62usd. June & October = Low Season, when tickets are around $50. The best time to ski and ride South America is August & September.
If you have the Mountain Collective pass, you can ski 2 days free at Valle Nevado, Chile.
Compare these lift ticket prices to the standard $120 per day prices in North America and you’re truly left wondering why you aren’t down there already…
Unfortunately the 63% discount on everything in Argentina due to the “black market dollar” has come to an end with Argentina’s new president lifting financial controls recently. But it was good while it lasted!!
#10. South American Culture is Amazing
You’re in a place where EVERYTHING is different. You’ll be constantly be speaking Spanish, learning new customs, meeting the best looking people of your life, skiing high altitude treeless moonscapes, battling bamboo, charging down shadowy south faces instead of north faces, riding overnight buses, ripping perfectly spaced deciduous trees, eating the best steaks of your life, tango shows, drinking some of the best wines of your life, experimenting with Fernet & Coke, trying Mate, and quite possibly seeing it snow harder than you’ve ever seen it snow before (Chile got a 10-foot storm this June).
(yeah, we know, we pushed it to 11. Couldn’t help it…)