Ski school

Skiing for kids and beginners at Chile’s major resorts

The five major resorts within driving distance from Santiago offer ski and snowboard instruction for children and adults alike.

Thursday, June 16, 2011 Category: Ski resorts
All the big resorts near Santiago have classes and private lessons for beginners. (Photo: ntr23/flic All the big resorts near Santiago have lessons available for kids. (Photo: ntr23/flickr)

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Though Chile’s world-class ski resorts offer the most challenging slopes south of the Rockies, they are not just the domain of adults and expert skiers.


Resorts like El Colorado, Valle Nevado, La Parva and Portillo are also ideal places for children to learn the ropes (or slopes) at any skill level. With classes and private lessons on offer at all of Santiago’s major ski resorts, a trip to Chile is an opportunity for the whole family to enjoy a snow-bound adventure in the world’s second highest mountain range.


Skiing for kids


All of Santiago’s major resorts offer ski schools for the kids and can be reached from the city center in one to two hours by car. 


At El Colorado and Farellones, four different ski schools offer private and group lessons to children of all ages. The Mini-School offers lessons to beginning skiers from age 3 to 11, divided into groups according to skills and abilities. Children that participate in the Mini-School will be guided through an independent ski area separate from the more difficult slopes of the main mountain to ensure their safety. In the resort’s Mini-School Los Zorros (the foxes), young children are cared for in a private outdoor play area in groups no larger than five. A full day at El Colorado’s mini-school costs CP$37,000 (US$79), including lunch.


At La Parva resort, skiers from ages 6 to 12 are divided into four groups by the resort’s Mini-School according to experience level for half- or full-day programs on the slopes. Children under the age of six can learn the basics as well in private lessons with members of the schools 70-person staff of instructors. Full day group lessons through the Mini-School cost CP$50,000 (US$107), while a full day private lesson runs CP$150,000 (US$320).


Children between the ages of 4 and 6 can steer clear of Valle Nevado’s more difficult slopes in the Snow Garden, reserved for youngsters taking to the slopes for the first time, either on skis or snowboards. A full day for a child in the Snow Garden runs CP$45,000 (US$96), with 2-hour adult group lessons at CP$25,000 (US$53).


As one of the area’s most exclusive resorts, Portillo also offers a broad range of lessons, beginning with the Kids Camp program for children from age 4 to 6. From age 7 onward, skiers of all levels can participate in two-hour group lessons, offered twice daily. Lessons for Kids Camp cost US$38 per child for the morning class or afternoon class, and US$68 for a combination of both. Normal group lessons run US$39 for one lesson, and US$73 for morning and afternoon lessons.


Adult and beginner lessons


It’s never too late to learn how to ski, and Chile’s major resorts offer group and private lessons for skiers of all ages. There is a large, expert staff of skiers and snowboarders at El Colorado and Farellones. Beginners in groups of five or more can participate in the “Learn to Ski” program, which includes lift tickets, equipment rental and a 90 minute lesson for CP$31,000 (US$66).


La Parva’s group lessons can be done on a single day basis or stretched across three days, with a 3-hour lesson each day. Private lessons and advanced workshops are also on offer, as well as adaptive lessons for skiers with disabilities. Two-hour group lessons cost CP$23,000 (US$49) per person, two-hour private lessons CP$71,000 (US$152), and three-hour expert workshops CP$58,000 (US$124). Adaptive skiing courses run from CP$39,000-99,000 (US$83-211), either for students with cognitive or physical differences.


Valle Nevado offers similar options for private and group lessons. Group lessons for those with more experience take groups to the resort’s main slopes divided according to ski level, with options even for the most advanced skiers to improve their skills. Adult pay US$39 per person for a single lesson, and US$73 for morning and afternoon.


Classes can be arranged for single days or up to six at Portillo, with group lessons either once or twice per day, ranging from US$39 for one lesson, to US$332 for two daily lessons over six days. Adaptive ski instruction is available for the blind or visually impaired, for those lacking the use of one or both legs, and paraplegics. One hour lessons for one to three students run US$86-US$143.