South American snow quality?

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re: Trip Report: Mammoth to Yosemite then Reno: June 13-15,

Postby ChrisC » Thu Jun 30, 2005 3:41 pm

South America seems like they are going to have a very good season. Isn't 200-300" about the season average for many of the mountains there?

What is snow quality like down there?

I assume Chilean resorts are a bit like the Sierra/Cascades where snow type is concerned. Is snow drier as you go inland - like Argentina?

curious
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re: South American snow quality?

Postby Tony Crocker » Thu Jun 30, 2005 5:59 pm

I don't have much data but these are my impressions:

Portillo: base elevation 9,600, latitude <33 degrees, about like San Diego. Portillo is close to Aconcagua, average snowfall probably in the 350 range. Huge volatility, good years are 500+, bad years under 200.

Valle Nevado: base elevation similar to Portillo, about 50 air miles south, maybe a bit lower snowfall but overall should be similar. Both areas go up to ~12,000 feet.

I would hypothesize that the new snow is drier at the above areas than Sierra/Cascades despite similar distance to the Pacific because:
1) Ocean is colder
2) Altitude is much higher (except vs. Mammoth)
Sun will be intense at this latitude as I know from SoCal experience.

Las Lenas: base ~7,600 but it goes up almost 4,000 from there, latitude 35, similar to Taos. Snowfall is clearly less than Portillo/Valle Nevado but I don't know how much. With similar volatility bad years are so bad it barely opens.

Termas de Chillan: 5,200 - 8,800 latitude 37, similar to Mammoth "More snow falls here than at the Santiago resorts, but the powder is heavier," according to a Chilean website. I would expect overall snow conditions very similar to Cascades/North Tahoe.

Bariloche: 3,400 - 6,700 latitude 41, same as Colorado/Wyoming border. Snowfall at the top is just under 200 inches. Quote from http://www.travelsur.net :"The reason Catedral is so popular is not the quality of the snow. In fact, it is possible to ski to the base only about 30% of the season as the hill faces east and the elevations are very low." Bariloche has lakes, scenery and the most developed resort town.
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re: South American snow quality?

Postby Tony Crocker » Thu Jun 30, 2005 6:11 pm

The Andes are one huge mountain range instead of the variety of different ones we have here. When you go much distance east of them (Bariloche) you are in a shadow and it's very dry.

As you go south to higher latitudes precipitation becomes more consistent but the elevation declines (close analogy to Sierra vs. Cascades). At the latitude of the Sierra (Chillan) the Andes are already lower. At the latitude of L.A./San Diego they are much higher but precipitation is more erratic, as it is here.
http://bestsnow.net
Ski Records
Season length: 21 months, Nov. 29, 2010 - July 2, 2012
Days in one year: 80 from Nov. 29, 2010 - Nov. 17, 2011
Season vertical: 1,610K in 2016-17
Season powder: 291K in 2011-12
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