Valle Nevado, Chile – Going Beyond the Boundary

D’Arcy McLeish |
Epic location.
Photo – Nils Schlebusch

Valle Nevado, Chile is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year and while it’s often touted as one of the best resorts in the Southern Hemisphere, with epic terrain and an awesome infrastructure (and amazing food, wine and accommodations), one of its true gems lies beyond the ski area boundary. And the options are truly endless, with everything from boot packs to skin tracks to helicopters to access some of the best big mountain terrain in South America.

Amazing, big mountain terrain. This is guide Mike Barney, earning his keep, with Tupungato, one of the highest mountains in Andes, standing at over 21,000ft, in the background. 
Photo – Claire Smallwood

Valle Nevado sits deep in the Andes with a base of 9,300ft. The peak of the resort tops out above 12,000 but there are peaks much higher than that just outside the resort’s boundary. But the critical thing at Valle Nevado are the freezing levels. Unlike a lot of other places in the Southern Hemisphere, the here snow tends to stay cold and consistent. It helps to be high up.

Sunsets over the Andes.
Photo – Valle Nevado

The season at Valle Nevado is just around the corner and they’re kicking off their 30th season with a bang. But for those of you wanting to go a little further and a little deeper, there are some stellar options for exploring the insane terrain.

Waiting for a pick up.
Photo – Valle Nevado

Right at the resort, Valle Nevado runs their own heliski operation, considered by many to be one of the best in the world. With over 22,000 acres of terrain to choose from, it’s been described as “like Alaska, but with longer runs.” Yep. You heard it. This the land of LONG laps and giant vertical. Peaks around Valle Nevado crest 21,000ft and many of the heliski runs in their tenure are well over 5,000 vertical feet. Terrain is almost all above treeline and encompasses just about everything you could imagine. From big mountain couloirs to massive glaciated bowls to big, wide open high alpine laps in cold smoke.

Skiers competing in the Swatch Cup wait for a ride to the mountains…
Photo – Valle Nevado

Valle Nevado Heli-ski can be booked in advance or you can just show up at their in-resort office and tailor make your experience. With no more than 4 people per group, per guide, things are intimate here. Their guides work the Northern winters all over the world and are some of the best in the business. You can book as little as a half day or as many days as you’d like. They also offer heli transfers from Santiago…which would be about the coolest way to arrive there.

For backcountry skiers and riders, Valle Nevado has just about enough terrain to explore to fill a lifetime. There are some very easy access points off surface lifts for skiing in the Inca Valley, which is right outside the boundary of the resort. Wide open alpine bowls and a limitless supply of big, burly lines await those wanting to explore the back and side country of the resort.

The Inca Valley – A Backcountry Paradise.

Valle Nevado has lots of offer for those wanting a bit of an adventure in their ski holiday. So bring your skins, your legs and your lungs. Or just catch a ride in a helicopter. Either way, you won’t be sorry. It’s big and wild and beautiful and shredding cold smoke above 10,000ft in July and August is about as good as it gets.

Be safe, ski hard.



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