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Las Lenas 2nd half of July--too early?

Fri Dec 07, 2012 4:51 pm

I was planning on heading down to South America for a few weeks this summer before starting work. I found out today that I start on August 12, and considering I'll have to fly across the country, move into an apartment, get furniture, etc, the vast majority of my skiing would come in the second half of July.

I'd prefer to make it a fairly easy, stress-free trip (particularly since I don't speak Spanish), so going to a single resort would be my preference. Obviously, Las Lenas is the choice for a 2-week destination, but I know July is early. Last year's July looked pretty great, but 2010 and 2011 seemed horrible.

I would only want to book if I knew it would be decent, but how long would I have to wait to figure out if there's going to be enough snow? This time of year, flights appear to increase in price if purchased within a month of the travel date (about a month out, Chicago to Mendoza/Buenos Aires is around $1600-is this normal?). Therefore, what's the likelihood that I would know by early to mid-June if going in July was going to be worth it? Also, is it possible to find decently cheap Las Lenas accommodation (Corbus apartments) with just a month's notice?

Re: Las Lenas 2nd half of July--too early?

Fri Dec 07, 2012 10:28 pm

Second half of July is South American holiday season. Lodging prices are highest and resorts are most crowded. I strongly recommend you push that vacation into the period right before you start work.

In terms of snow late July is not super early season. The issue is more the extreme volatility of Andes snowfall. Standard deviations are 2x as high as in the Rockies and 1.5x as high as in the Sierra. So the bad seasons can be REALLY bad. The combination of the volatility and the holiday pricing/crowds is what leads to the general rule of thumb: Ski in August, book in June once you see a reasonable amount of snow on the ground.

Patrick has had 5 trips to South America in late August/early September for his streak. He has generally not committed $ to either flights or lodging until sometime in July.

If you have to go in July I'd recommend Termas de Chillan: higher snowfall, a bit more off the beaten track so perhaps not as impacted by holiday crowds. I would try to verify from someone who has been there about the holidays though.

Re: Las Lenas 2nd half of July--too early?

Sat Dec 08, 2012 11:41 am

Yeah, no real flexibility on when I can go. Does Termas have enough terrain for 1-1.5 weeks maybe? Also, I know Termas had issues with the eruption, so do they have more lifts up? I seem to recall they were down to just a few lifts, and if Don Otto didn't run, there's wasn't much available.

Re: Las Lenas 2nd half of July--too early?

Sun Dec 09, 2012 12:03 am

Adam and I discussed this a bit while skiing today. His advice is the same: move first, go to Las Lenas beginning of August. He said Las Lenas is your kind of place.

You'll have to ask Patrick about Chillan, as he's been there twice and I have never been there. The dependence on Don Otto is somewhat like Las Lenas' dependence on Marte. If you go to Chile I would get a car and divide the time between Chillan and Portillo (and Arpa?). Portillo's lodging base is limited, expensive and probably sold out for late July. But therefore crowds are also limited and if you're willing you can commute from Los Andes ~1 hour away in good weather. The Valle Nevado group is overall a bit flat for your taste. If you decide to go up there I would base in Farallones. The commute from Santiago is much tougher (busier, worse road) than Los Andes to Portillo.

Re: Las Lenas 2nd half of July--too early?

Mon Dec 10, 2012 1:09 pm

Tony Crocker wrote:Patrick has had 5 trips to South America in late August/early September for his streak. He has generally not committed $ to either flights or lodging until sometime in July.


I've always booked my flights in June, but kept the flexibility of destinations until the last moment (with the exception of the 1st trip in 2007 where I skied a few days in Portillo and 2009 when I stayed in Las Lenas. On all the other trips, I've booked lodging 5 days ahead of time at the most (sometimes the previous day).

Tony Crocker wrote:If you have to go in July I'd recommend Termas de Chillan: higher snowfall, a bit more off the beaten track so perhaps not as impacted by holiday crowds. I would try to verify from someone who has been there about the holidays though.


Remember that its a SA Holiday, so it is not off-beat with locals. I've never been in the Holidays, I just remember reading not to go. Termas is pretty big destination for Chile, not in the Santiago trio, Catedral/Bariloche, Portillo and Lenas crowd, but right after in term of recognition. Prices would definitely be cheaper than Las Lenas, however Corbus is pretty cheap. For the same price, you would get something pretty nice in Las Trancas (next to Termas).

Staley wrote:Chicago to Mendoza/Buenos Aires is around $1600-is this normal?).


I don't know if its normal; flying into Mendoza I would say that it would be a good price. I know I've paid (all taxes/fees/fuel surcharge incl) between $970-1100 CDN in the previous 5 trips flying Ottawa-Toronto-Santiago. $1100 was for arrival into Santiago and departures from Buenos Aires in 2009.

Re: Las Lenas 2nd half of July--too early?

Mon Dec 10, 2012 1:20 pm

Staley wrote:Yeah, no real flexibility on when I can go. Does Termas have enough terrain for 1-1.5 weeks maybe? Also, I know Termas had issues with the eruption, so do they have more lifts up? I seem to recall they were down to just a few lifts, and if Don Otto didn't run, there's wasn't much available.


It depends of the people...I have a hard time staying in one place. If the skiing is good and if you have touring gear or simply great, I would say Termas is fine. In my opinion Termas is better than Portillo or Las Lenas in crappy or without Marte.

I skied 4 days last August/September in Termas...the new snow received prior to my arrival was sunbaked and backcountry was heavy; temps were way above average. It was Spring skiing without touching much of the back or sidecountry.

Lifts wise, Don Otto and other upper lifts were shutdown one afternoon due to high winds. Believe me, I was surprised that the chair was still running when I was on one of the last chairs of the day. Situation isn't as bad as before, a few lifts were added. Some of you might have recalled, Termas removed a number of lifts were the ownership changed. Most lifts lines from 2007 were back in 2012, so they wouldn't so much gamble if Don Otto isn't running.

Re: Las Lenas 2nd half of July--too early?

Mon Dec 10, 2012 5:52 pm

Patrick corroborates the advice:
Patrick wrote:Remember that its a SA Holiday, so it is not off-beat with locals. I've never been in the Holidays, I just remember reading not to go.

You need to move first, then go on the ski trip to whichever location.

Re: Las Lenas 2nd half of July--too early?

Mon Dec 10, 2012 6:38 pm

I wish I could, but I'll be trying to get a lease that starts August 1st, which means I'd have at least a day or two at the beginning moving in. The best I could do would be to fly to SA on a Saturday and return the following Saturday, and that's not long enough for a trip.

I'll certainly keep my options open and be ready to book flights if it snows a ton in June and airline tickets/lodging are still available and not too overpriced, but it looks like I might need to save South America for another time.

Re: Las Lenas 2nd half of July--too early?

Mon Dec 10, 2012 9:24 pm

Staley wrote:I wish I could, but I'll be trying to get a lease that starts August 1st, which means I'd have at least a day or two at the beginning moving in. The best I could do would be to fly to SA on a Saturday and return the following Saturday, and that's not long enough for a trip.

I'll certainly keep my options open and be ready to book flights if it snows a ton in June and airline tickets/lodging are still available and not too overpriced, but it looks like I might need to save South America for another time.


You don't need to move the date (it would be better), if you can't go. Look at how many people take their ski vacations on the Christmas Holidays. Plus if you tour, locals don't tour.

The most important is to remain flexible regarding destination. Not sure how many locals head to Corbus? It was definitely Gringo central when I was there.

Re: Las Lenas 2nd half of July--too early?

Mon Dec 10, 2012 9:41 pm

Lodging that's physically in Las Lenas is very limited, I'm sure. There are hostels about 40 minutes down the road in Los Molles or something like that, but I don't really want to do that bus ride every day and I've seen pictures of police checkpoints that would definitely take forever. Plus it doesn't allow for flexibility while touring.

I'll just stay optimistic and be ready to go if everything aligns for a good trip.

Re: Las Lenas 2nd half of July--too early?

Thu Aug 01, 2013 12:56 pm

Hopefully we dissuaded Staley from Las Lenas. And it's a good thing Patrick isn't headed to South America this year either.
http://snowbrains.com/las-lenas-argenti ... this-year/

Portillo reports 156 inches season to date. Unfortunately that's 4 inches less than they were reporting at the end of June???? Base depths are 24-34 inches.

Re: Las Lenas 2nd half of July--too early?

Thu Aug 08, 2013 9:54 am

Patrollers Reporting 7-10 FEET of New Snow in Las Leñas, 3 FEET New at Base
http://unofficialnetworks.com/happen-la ... rs-124225/

Re: Las Lenas 2nd half of July--too early?

Thu Aug 08, 2013 11:06 am

Extremely Canadian just dodged a bullet. Presumably 2 weeks worth of customers have paid $4K for late August/early September trips.

Re: Las Lenas 2nd half of July--too early?

Sat Aug 10, 2013 2:37 pm

Yep, I chose not to go and postpone the trip until I can do it properly (end of August/early September).

Re: Las Lenas 2nd half of July--too early?

Sun Aug 11, 2013 4:27 pm

Marte opened after the storm on August 9: http://snowbrains.com/marte-chair-opens ... y-madness/

Bariloche report after being closed 5 days from the big storm: http://snowbrains.com/upper-mountain-op ... ina-today/

Portillo's storm total was a more modest 22 inches. Season total now 178 inches.
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