South America 2024

ChrisC

Well-known member
I saw that Cerro Cetedral / Bariloche received about 4-8 ft over the last few days. So much snow that they are opening for this weekend.

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The PowderQuest guys been posting

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Without snowmaking, they will need more over the months.

Las Lenas does not look great. Nor Portillo. More like dusting, but it’s a region to watch.


I’d love to ski NZ, but wait till snow.
 
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Seeing if there is a way to combine Catedral/Bariloche with Las Lenas.
12+ hours by road, not sure if served by bus. I'll bet if flying that you're likely backtracking via Buenos Aires.
Las Lenas does not look great. Nor Portillo. More like dusting, but it’s a region to watch.
Likely minimal relationship. Latitudes 41 vs. 35 for Catedral vs. Las Lenas would be Snowbasin vs. Arizona Snowbowl in the US.

Combining Catedral with other Argentine lake district areas plus Chillan/Corralco makes more sense for both logistics and likely snowfall correlation.

There's no question Las Lenas should be ChrisC's #1 South America priority for terrain, but the recent storm is not really relevant. And if the El Nino reverses to la Nina over the next few months, that will be bad news for the northern resorts.
 
Combining Catedral with other Argentine lake district areas plus Chillan/Corralco makes more sense for both logistics and likely snowfall correlation.

There's no question Las Lenas should be ChrisC's #1 South America priority for terrain, but the recent storm is not really relevant. And if the El Nino reverses to la Nina over the next few months, that will be bad news for the northern resorts.
Even Chillan and Catedral is big stretch far distance wise.

Catedral connects well with La Hoya (Esquel) and Cerre Bayo (Villa La Augostura) are somewhat close to Bariloche. On my two trips to Bariloche (2008 and/or 2010) and Chapelco and Pucon (Chile).
 
12+ hours by road, not sure if served by bus. I'll bet if flying that you're likely backtracking via Buenos Aires.

Likely minimal relationship. Latitudes 41 vs. 35 for Catedral vs. Las Lenas would be Snowbasin vs. Arizona Snowbowl in the US.

Combining Catedral with other Argentine lake district areas plus Chillan/Corralco makes more sense for both logistics and likely snowfall correlation.

There's no question Las Lenas should be ChrisC's #1 South America priority for terrain, but the recent storm is not really relevant. And if the El Nino reverses to la Nina over the next few months, that will be bad news for the northern resorts.

There are direct flights from Bariloche and Mendoza - relatively cheap, $100.

I would do a triangle itinerary: Buenos Aires to Bariloche to Mendoza to Buenos Aires. This likely involves a car rental from Mendoza to Las Lenas. However, I would not mind a little time (half a day?) in Mendoza - maybe stop at a winery. It is the capital of Malbec.

Keep watching - will not book anything till there is snow on the ground/decent base.

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OR

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This likely involves a car rental from Mendoza to Las Lenas. However, I would not mind a little time (half a day?) in Mendoza - maybe stop at a winery. It is the capital of Malbec.
Still a long drive at 345km, especially the last isolated part.
 
I have been thinking about a trip to ski in Chile in the future. However finding information about how much snow these ski areas get is challenging. Tony - you seem to have snowfall stats on almost everywhere. On a normal to good year, how much snow do ski areas such as Valle Nevado or Portillo get? Would coverage generally be good by the end of July or the beginning of August?
 
However finding information about how much snow these ski areas get is challenging.

Yes, and inaccurate. The average seems to be 175-250 inches, with massive volatility. But if you look at the La Parva acquisition stats - they were as low as 125"/yr inches - I'm not sure if this was the last 10 years - but it might be the most accurate number due to financial due diligence. You cannot misrepresent things.

Personally, I would not put my money down until I saw nearly 80-100% open and a 40-60" base. And likely, you might wait until July for those conditions to evolve.

I would not book ahead, especially before August 1st. Last year, the Andes experienced a disaster that lasted until late August/September. If you booked for late July, resorts were barely open. Meanwhile, September had almost 10 feet of snow.

Tony did one of his great write-ups on the Chilean Andes link

Is Chile fun? Yes, it's now the wealthiest South American country. Beautiful skiing. But most seasons are mediocre for a lot of the time - more like bad Tahoe. And $/time is likely better spent in British Columbia - versus dust on crust on low bases in the Andes.
 
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Portillo in-season stats are the only ones that are reliable. When I was there in 2007 I got annual stats back to 1970. 1970-2007 average was 254 inches. Projection of monthly Las Lenas data 1984-2015 is 247 inches average. But the last above average season for those resorts was 2009. Limited Valle Nevado data in the mid-2000's implied about 3/4 of Portillo/Las Lenas, so I wouldn't be surprised at all if average since 2010 was 125.
Personally, I would not put my money down until I saw nearly 80-100% open and a 40-60" base. And likely, you might wait until July for those conditions to evolve.

I would not book ahead, especially before August 1st.
+10
Last year, the Andes experienced a disaster that lasted until late August/September. If you booked for late July, resorts were barely open. Meanwhile, September had almost 10 feet of snow.
That was an aberration. In much of North America we think of average snowfall being fairly even December - March. Average Santiago precipitation (and Las Lenas snowfall) peaks in June/July with August 2/3 as much and September less than half as much. So most years if it's low tide at the end of July you can stick a fork in it. March miracles are way more common in North America and the Alps, southern Alps this season being a good example.
 
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Tony did one of his great write-ups on the Chilean Andes link
In that 2008 article, Tony writes "While skiing is available in Australia, New Zealand and even South Africa and Lesotho, the biggest resorts and most dependable snow cover lie in South America." Interesting to see the adjective "dependable," as it seems like the Andes in general (viewed purely from my armchair) tend to be very volatile snow-wise?
 
In that 2008 article, Tony writes "While skiing is available in Australia, New Zealand and even South Africa and Lesotho, the biggest resorts and most dependable snow cover lie in South America." Interesting to see the adjective "dependable," as it seems like the Andes in general (viewed purely from my armchair) tend to be very volatile snow-wise?

New Zealand and Australian ski resorts have an even lower average annual snowfall than South American resorts. None of them register above 200 inches. Therefore, conditions could always be variable, and large snowmaking installations are required. The South Island of NZ could have some relatively high snowfall areas if they were located near the West Coast, but none are.

However, South America has been faltering a bit this last decade. There have been some good years but many recent slow starts / poor seasons. So maybe South America is more dependable than NZ/Australia, but not necessarily reliable.

When I went to Portillo/3 Valles in 2016 before the Rio Olympics, I waited to add this stop until early/mid-July, when the resorts received a massive 6-8 ft dump establishing a base for the remainder of the season. I was even lucky enough to get 4 inches before Day 1 at Portillo and 6" during my visit (down day—toured Santiago), resulting in a La Parva powder day. (Used my Mountain Collective for two days at Valle Nevado). However, temperatures quickly warmed up after the minor storm to the mid-40s, creating Spring surfaces - very similar to Tahoe. I would not go to South America expecting powder unless it snows during your trip - surfaces quickly consolidate and diminish.
 
My very amatuer reading of the weather forecast for Chile is telling me there is plenty of snow coming in the next week or so. I'm just looking on the windy site.
Does anyone else have another resource that might show predicted snowfall for the South American resorts? I'm really tempted to fly across the Pacific at some time at the end of July or early August. I think I've read on here that South America is not reliable enough to pre-book?
 
think I've read on here that South America is not reliable enough to pre-book?
Not until there is adequate snow on the ground. There already is some, and if the upcoming storm lives up to its billing, prebooking for August should be a fairly safe bet.

The caveat is where the storms hit hardest and the rain/snow line. Getting accurate info for simple things like storm snow totals and base depths can be difficult, especially since most areas aren't open yet and have fixed opening dates no matter how much snow there is.

Avoid the second half of July. South American school holidays jack up the prices and the generally slow lifts don't handle crowds well.
 
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There is some serious snow coming to Northern Chile and Argentina.

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South America Daily Snow
By Luke Stone, Forecaster
Posted 10 hours ago
June 10, 2024
Major Storm Cycle Underway
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Summary
The first cold(er) phase of this storm cycle brought solid snow totals to the northern zone this weekend. The fire hose is turned on and aimed at the Andes for the foreseeable future, though warm air will present problems during this time. Some hope for better-quality snow will exist next week.
Short Term Forecast
As temperatures cooled off a little bit this weekend the northern zone received a solid round of snow, with 10 - 20 cm at most resorts. La Parva received 15 - 20 cm while Valle Nevado got 20 cm. The snow was on the denser side but it was nevertheless one of the first real powder days of the year.
We remain in a very active and wet pattern with a storm cycle that will likely last beyond the middle of the month. This storm cycle is still expected to be warm overall, but a few colder periods are possible where the snow quality should be better. Massive rain and snow totals will fall during this time, as several storms move through the region.
We'll take the storm starting today and lasting through Saturday as the next in the series. From Sunday through Monday, another storm is expected, and then one more long-duration event from Monday through the end of the week. These later storms are still a ways out, so the timing may change a bit before then.
A strong and deep area of low pressure is developing offshore and will stall there for several days. While it does so, it will direct an atmospheric river into the region for an unusually long time, through Saturday morning, as you can see below.
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The tricky part of this forecast is the snow levels, as there will be periods where they rise and fall over the next six days and beyond. The high levels of moisture in the atmosphere as well as the intense precipitation rates associated with atmospheric rivers can make snow level forecasts more challenging.
This system will push a warm front through the area from Monday to Tuesday and snow levels will remain high through Tuesday night/Wednesday night. A cold front will move in from the south around Tuesday night in the southern/central zone and reach the northern zone Wednesday night. Before the cold front, snow levels should be above the base elevations of most resorts. After the cold front, they should be around or just below most resort bases.
As mentioned, the next storm in this series is packing a huge punch of moisture with this long-duration atmospheric river. Below are the expected precipitation totals during this time. A large area of 10 - 20 cm of water is forecast just from this next storm through Saturday, with isolated areas approaching 25 cm.
Snow totals will be impressive as well, especially in the north. Given the fluctuating snow levels, I expect a wide range of 1 - 2 + m for the northern zone and Nevados de Chillan as well. Snow totals will drop off sharply at lower elevations and at lower elevation resorts overall
At higher resorts in the central zone like Corralco and Antuco, .75 - 1.5 m is possible. Farther east in Argentina (Cerro Catedral, Chapelco, Caviahue) and at lower elevation resorts like Pucon, Las Araucarias, and Antillanca in Chile, mid and lower mountain totals could be significantly less. Minor changes in the snow levels could make a big difference in the elevations that see massive snow totals or mostly rain.
Winds will be an issue during this storm as well, particularly in the central zone. The northern zone will see strong winds too, and overall they won't die down until around Friday.
Conditions will be pretty messy through Wednesday, with better possible powder days Thursday through Saturday, especially in the northern zone given the higher elevations. With the incredibly high rates of precipitation and snow totals, we will likely see road and terrain closures during this time.
We should have at least somewhat of a lull Saturday afternoon through Sunday afternoon, but that may not be enough time to dig out. The next storm is expected to begin Sunday night and we may not see another break in the action until later next week. The middle and latter part of next week may feature a much colder air mass with better-quality snow, resulting in bigger snow totals at some of the resorts seeing more rain this week. That's still more than a week out though, so I'm not locking in that colder phase just yet.
Extended Forecast
There isn't any clear sign of a break in this active weather until the third week of the month. We'll have to keep an eye on this period as well though, as any break we do see may be short-lived.
Next update on Wednesday.
Thanks for reading the South America Daily Snow!
Luke Stone
Forecaster, OpenSnow
 
Thinking about taking my 4 year old to Portillo July 4 for a mini week. They have very good pricing for kids. Basically free including daycare and lessons. My wife doesn’t love the idea of me being alone with her half way across the world. But the timing looks perfect given these unusually awesome early conditions.
 
I would say the center of that “fire hose” (the area in white/brown) is pointed at Chillan/Corralco, though forecasts are considerable at most ski areas.

As for ongoing snow reporting, only Portillo maintains it online all season the way many North American ski areas do. Season to date is 68 inches, quite respectable for June 10. No base depth is reported as the area does not open until June 20.
 
Thinking about taking my 4 year old to Portillo July 4 for a mini week. They have very good pricing for kids. Basically free including daycare and lessons. My wife doesn’t love the idea of me being alone with her half way across the world. But the timing looks perfect given these unusually awesome early conditions.

Portillo's all-inclusive is not a bad deal. It's like a cruise ship - 4 meals a day (even includes a 4-course lunch up at Tio Bob's, which overlooks the lake), lodging, lift tickets, all the activities and facilities (gym, game room, movie theater, etc.) And the food was very good. Also, there virtually are no day travelers from Santiago. It's just you and maybe 500 other people? Feels like a private resort.

However, the snow conditions are more like those in California than Utah. It's not super dry snow, and here are big, intense storms with lots of sun in between.

My first trip to Portillo was only one day, and I stayed in Los Andes since they still required at least a one-week commitment.

I looked at staying up at Farellones for the Santiago resorts, but everything was pricey. So I stayed in Santiago at a Hyatt that faced the Andes with some points. It was fine on weekdays, but on weekends, the access road was jammed.
 
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I would say the center of that “fire hose” (the area in white/brown) is pointed at Chillan/Corralco, though forecasts are considerable at most ski areas.

Yes, it does look very good snowfall-wise for Nevados de Chillan.

However, is it a reliable area? I read all these negative reviews on the Powderhounds site about never opening the summit lifts—almost like the Marte lift at Las Lenas. Link

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