The Andes is the second highest mountain range in the world, and it’s still rising. The summit of Aconcagua which is only 15km from the border of Chile, sits at 6,950 meters (22,841 feet). Thankfully the ski resorts aren’t as high, but those around Santiago still rise to around 3,650 meters. These elevations are fantastic for the views and snow quality, but are not quite so good for the ability to breathe for the first day or so.
These northern ski resorts are above the tree line, and as you move further south the elevations are lower which affords some tree skiing opportunities. Average annual snowfalls are generally around the 6-7 meters mark, except for Nevados de Chillan and Ski Pucon that receive a bountiful 10 metres annually. The snowpack is coastal, so it’s reasonably stable, and considering the cool temperatures, the powder is reasonably dry. That being said, Chile ski resorts sometimes also suffer from horrendously icy conditions.
The weather can be very kind and provide lots of sunny days, but considering that many of the resorts are very exposed, nasty weather can close the resorts and access roads for days at a time. This may put a quick dampener on your ski vacation, but when the bluebird day arrives you’ll forget about it and enjoy skiing bliss once again.
Chile is a great place to have a winter vacation in summer (of course this only works for those who live in the Northern Hemisphere!), or a winter vacation in winter! The ski season begins in mid-June and runs to October. However the best skiing conditions in Chile are generally mid July to early September, but the busy Chile holidays are during July.
Chile is a great place to have a ski holiday and experience the Latin culture all at the same time. You can speak Spanish to your heart’s content or giggle at the Spanglish where eating is described as “gastronomy”, and skiing is something that you practise. In Chile, dinner is eaten late, dancing goes to the wee hours, and you might get away with having an après siesta. And as part of the culture, only the super keen are up early for first lifts. Fantástico!