Valle Nevado, Chile Snow Update: No New Snow in 2 Weeks

Guest Author | | Conditions ReportConditions Report

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words & photos by Casey Earle

After some very warm days, it has cooled down a bit in the 3 Valleys (Valle Nevado, El Colorado, La Parva, Chile), but the freezing level is set to rise again Sat/Sun to around 4,000m. In spite of all the clouds around in recent days, no real snow has fallen in over 2 weeks, and the snow is hardening.

This means either you ski the most recently groomed run possible, or go looking for bits of off piste like lower slopes that aren’t too hacked up and get warm enough to soften, or those snaking drift lines at higher altitudes where the wind packs the snow smooth and chalky.

I skied Valle Nevado yesterday and had a fun day in spite of a lack of grooming (which makes a big difference). While I try to avoid bashing ski areas, some constructive criticism is needed. Valle Nevado has three different exposures, and none were properly groomed.

One is mainly served by the Andes Express chair and is a large bowl with mostly southern exposure, full of Brazilians on the easier lower slopes. This is what you see in most of the photos from Valle Nevado. Several other minor lifts serve the lower parts of the bowl. There was only one run off the top that was groomed, leaving the rest mostly hardpack with bits that were too hard to really get an edge.

The most challenging part is the very top:

vn_5The half-pipe-like gully that runs below the chair was loads of fun to ski:

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This continues right down to the lowest lift, more or less, but exiting where the cat track crosses to the left was advisable, and takes you to a little poma with a snowpark that was groomed and also fun to ski the sidelines of.

Off the back of the Andes Express is a long slope which faces mostly E and NE, with 1 small chair, 2 pomas, and one t-bar where access to Falso Parva can be had. This area gets the morning sun and the north winds. There was one run groomed leading off the Andes Express, and one on the Las Ballicas poma. The rest was all un-groomed. From the Ancla you get this view of the Cerro La Parva bowl:

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Looked like things were mostly hard or crusty in the bowl. The run off the back of the Falso Parva to the left, “La Lengua” (out of view), is a nice 400m vertical drop on a wind packed tongue of snow. It is probably pretty good chalky snow right now, but note it is best to go above the cornice there.

The Tres Puntas poma is the highest lift in Chile, and has the most vertical of the VN lifts. It faces west and opens a up whole different mountain, with terrain which extends up towards the Cerro La Parva to the north and bottoms out at the Embalse chair to the south. There were no runs groomed there, leaving people with dull edges in a pickle. However, there were some good windpack lines off the runs, in particular between the poma and the Shake run. The view is always inspiring at the top, with La Leonera (5,000m) and El Plomo (5,400m) standing out:

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To show the good and bad of the current off piste, here are two photos from La Parva:

The Muela run on Las Tortolas was good solid windpack:

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Above the top of El Descenso, the soft snow was blown away leaving old tracks raised up, and not much fun to ski right now: 

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