Unexpected Inbounds Avalanche Triggered at Chilean Ski Area Next to Chairlift

Martin Kuprianowicz | | AvalancheAvalanche
An avalanche broke inbounds at Nevados de Chillan in Chile today, coming to a stop next to one of the resort’s chairlifts. | Photo: Siamac Sadaat

At approximately 12:25 p.m. today, ski patrollers at Nevados de Chillan were notified of an avalanche that occurred within the perimeter of the ski area. 

They ran out the door of their station, clipped into their skis with urgency, and beelined to the debris pile.

When they arrived at the slide path that had come to a halt on top of one of the resort’s lift towers, all they could see was massive chunks of freshly displaced snow and an obvious slide path. No one knew yet if anyone had been buried or how many souls were potentially trapped underneath.

Rescue teams performed a standard avalanche rescue technique known as a probe line to search for burial victims, which is used when victims who are not wearing avalanche transceivers are trapped under the freshly displaced snow of an avalanche. Coordinating in uniform line up the debris pile with each individual member stabbing the snowpack with their avalanche probes in a circle around them, they scanned every square meter of the slide.

Five minutes passed.


15—nearing the maximum amount of time that anyone can survive under the snow.

No one was found.

Issuing an announcement on its Instagram page, Nevados de Chillan later reported that no one had been reported missing from the slide and that everyone involved had been accounted for. The resort wrote that the slide had occurred in an area of the resort that had been closed due to high avalanche danger, near one of the resort’s chairlifts.

The startling slide comes after a period of heavy snowfall and high avalanche danger in an area of the Andes Mountains that had just received several feet of fresh snow from a large storm this week. It’s unclear whether the slide was natural or if someone had ducked a rope and triggered it themselves, but from the image above it appears as if ski tracks are entering into the starting zone of the avalanche. Regardless of the details—which we’ll share as more emerge—it’s a blessing that no one was harmed or killed in this avalanche. It certainly could have been worse.

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