South America 2024

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.

It looks like Valle Nevado wants to report snow conditions more accurately. Link
  • Snowfall to date
  • Recent Snow
  • Snowbase
  • Forecast
  • Lifts Open
  • Pistes Open/Groomed

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As we are about a week into our 5 week Africa trip, I did not try to chase down Valle Nevado reporting. I suspected MCP would get around to upgrading it to North American standards, so I'm pleased to see that, including open lifts/open slopes. It would be nice to see that happen at Las Lenas and/or Chillan but that's a pipe dream.
 
Las Lenas somewhat does that. Whether it's accurate is another question.

But they try to show tracks, lifts, snow base, and off-piste avalanche risk. Link

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One thing about Argentina is that it's great that the resorts have to set their prices on June 1st. Last year, when I was looking at Las Lenas, inflation caused its lift tickets to adjust to $25/day by September. Americans keep getting a greater discount as the season continues. However, lodging still seems pricey for Las Lenas, and you have transportation costs.

Chile is too stable and the wealthiest South American country - selling minerals to China - that you do not get the fluctuation.

Also, most Latin American tourist destinations price EVERYTHING in dollars - Patagonia, Machu Pichu, Cancun, Cabo, etc.
 
Impressive snowfalls for the Santiago areas. About 6ft this week. They likely have their base for the season. Portillo looks similar.

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Looks like it might be time to pull the trigger for an August/September trip to Las Lenas. So many bad, bad seasons over the last 10 years.

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A lot more snow on the way. Perhaps the best start in a generation for the central Andes.

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Also, most Latin American tourist destinations price EVERYTHING in dollars - Patagonia, Machu Pichu, Cancun, Cabo, etc.
Interesting. I didn’t know that. Pity the AUD is in the toilet.
Not exactly true. Google “Is it better to pay in pesos or dollars in Mexican tourist areas”. Most results say no including https://www.cancuncare.com/money/cancun-currency/which includes:

“Although there are always exceptions in Cancun, all small value items will be priced in Pesos. Items such as a packet of cigarettes, bus fare, a bottle of water etc. Higher value items such as tour prices and nightclub entrance prices will be priced in US Dollars.

You will be able to pay for small items in Dollars, and you will be able to pay for tours and club entrances in Pesos. However, if you use the ‘wrong’ currency you’ll be subject to a poor exchange rate that could lose you as much as 20 per cent on the deal.”

We’ve visited an inexpensive bar (Happy Ending Cantina) on our last trips to Cabo. Two beers and two shots of inexpensive tequila were the equivalent of 4 dollars if you paid in pesos or 5 dollars if you paid in dollars. So 25% more if you didn’t have pesos. I use a Schwab checking account ATM that refunds most exchange fees to get pesos (best to use at a bank during the week, not a kiosk in tourist area that may have extra fees). And the peso climbed against the dollar so on our April trip to Mazatlan, we were spending pesos we had gotten at 19-20 to the dollar when rate then was under 17. Looks like dollar has recovered some.
 
Season to date snowfall is now 139 inches at Portillo and 142 at Valle Nevado.

Looks like it might be time to pull the trigger for an August/September trip to Las Lenas.
This is very likely the best start to a season since Adam and I signed up in late June 2005 with Extremely Canadian for early September. Las Lenas had 119 inches in May and 129 in June in 2005. Season to date from Portillo south to Chillan should be pushing 200 inches by this time next week if the forecasts are anywhere close to accurate.

Advice to ChrisC, which he probably knows from reading these boards:
1) Given the hassle of getting to Las Lenas, book two weeks to increase the odds of enough days with Marte open. That's about 40% of the time but of course the down days tend to run in streaks. Bring some reading material for the down days, not unlike Alaska heliskiiing.
2) Bring touring gear for the hard core terrain up on Entre Rios and Torricellas. I was never up to those hikes but I'm sure ChrisC would be inspired by Staley's reports.
3) Bring crisp new $100 bills and get pesos at the blue dollar rate in Buenos Aires. You probably have to book your lodging ahead in USD but you can definitely use pesos for lift tickets and meals.
 
The hassle factor of getting to Las Lenas is perhaps the highest I have seen for any ski resort. Usually, I like or am at least ambivalent about traveling. However, double redeyes—plane and potentially bus—to Las Lenas are depressing. I am still considering just jumping on a plane to Bariloche/Catedral for 2-3 days and flying to Mendoza. American Airlines has good FF awards to Buenos Aires—50K round trip.

(Aside: If anyone wants to ski Chile, I saw lots of $500 rt airfares for most of the summer. I might even see if I could fly from Santiago to Argentina (Mendoza and/or Bariloche).

1) Given the hassle of getting to Las Lenas, book two weeks to increase the odds of enough days with Marte open. That's about 40% of the time but of course the down days tend to run in streaks. Bring some reading material for the down days, not unlike Alaska heliskiiing.

I'm not sure if I can manage two weeks. It will likely be seven days/nights. I will have to watch Marte's operations.

2) Bring touring gear for the hard core terrain up on Entre Rios and Torricellas. I was never up to those hikes but I'm sure ChrisC would be inspired by Staley's reports.

I will have to see. I have been trying to get a copy of the book Las Lenas Out of Bounds by Thomas Perren. I was definitely not going to pay $100 for it on eBay. (The Seller would not negotiate.)

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Snowbrains put most of the maps from Perren's book in its South American Ski Guide: Las Lenas, so I might print them out in enlarged map versions.


3) Bring crisp new $100 bills and get pesos at the blue dollar rate in Buenos Aires. You probably have to book your lodging ahead in USD but you can definitely use pesos for lift tickets and meals.

I think the Argentinian Peso is now allowed to 'float' and is no longer pegged to the dollar, negating the blue dollar rates. However, I will have to research this and see what the new President is up to. Lift tickets last year were highly reasonable as the Peso continued to dive over the summer.
 
Most of the Central Andes ski resorts will come close to receiving their average annual snowfall (200-250") before they even open.

And it continues....

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3) Bring crisp new $100 bills and get pesos at the blue dollar rate in Buenos Aires. You probably have to book your lodging ahead in USD but you can definitely use pesos for lift tickets and meals.

The last time I was in Buenos Aires was in 2014 - when the Argentinian Peso had a fixed exchange rate - and there was a very active black market/blue market for US Dollars.

The exchange rate between the Argentine peso and the US dollar has significantly deteriorated over the past decade, with the peso losing substantial value against the dollar. Here's an overview of the changes:
  1. In 2014, 1 US dollar was worth approximately 8 Argentine pesos.
  2. By 2018, the exchange rate had weakened considerably, with 1 US dollar equaling about 38.84 pesos by the end of the year.
  3. The peso's depreciation accelerated in 2019, with the exchange rate reaching around 63 pesos to 1 US dollar by the end of that year.
  4. The trend continued through the early 2020s:
    • In 2020, the year-end rate was about 88 pesos to 1 US dollar.
    • By the end of 2021, it had further weakened to around 107 pesos per dollar.
    • In 2022, the peso experienced another significant drop, ending the year at approximately 180 pesos to 1 US dollar.
  5. The most dramatic change occurred in 2023, with the peso's value plummeting. By the end of 2023, the exchange rate had reached about 687 pesos to 1 US dollar.
  6. As of the most recent data in 2024, the exchange rate is approximately 909 pesos to 1 US dollar.
This data illustrates a clear trend of rapid and substantial depreciation of the Argentine peso against the US dollar over the past decade. The peso has lost over 99% of its value relative to the dollar during this period, reflecting Argentina's ongoing economic challenges, including high inflation rates and economic instability.


Maybe there will be another instability event; there were a few in 2023. But the trend lines look good to try to delay payment until as late as possible since prices are now set and the Argentinian Peso continues to depreciate.

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Off-piste Guides were more expensive than those in Switzerland - nearly $800/day under current exchange rate.
 
How might one even get to portillo in this? I’d think the road could be closed still for weeks with all of the backup. Helicopter? I’ve been tracking snowfall there ever since my first visit in 2015 and it’s truly mind blowing what’s happened so far this year. And they had predicted La Niña!
 
How might one even get to portillo in this? I’d think the road could be closed still for weeks with all of the backup.

The road is the major trade link between Chile and Argentina, so it's a priority to open ASAP. Last September, we delayed a few days to ensure an open road after 10 feet of snow in the preceding weeks - especially since our stay was relatively short.

Seems like the road has been closed for a while - if the web page has been updated accurately, That is a big if before the season started.

The road to Portillo is a PIA because it's all switchbacks, forcing trucks to go 15-20 mph. Meanwhile, other drivers are passing trucks at 50-60 mph, hoping not to get into a head-on collision with a giant rig. A giant game of chicken!

For updated snow reports and road conditions in Portillo, Chile, call Hotel Portillo at (56-2) 2361-7000.


 
Season to date Portillo 233 inches, Vallee Nevado 210 inches. Hopefully Patrick is paying attention to this!
 
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