Chile gears up for ski season as first snow falls

The slopes of the Andes received their first blanket of snow for 2014 as the country’s resorts prepare for locals and tourists.

The first significant snowfall has arrived on the mountains of Chile’s Valle Nevado. Photo by Valle Nevado Ski Resort / Facebook page.
The first significant snowfall has arrived on the mountains of Chile’s Valle Nevado. Photo by Valle Nevado Ski Resort / Facebook page.

It really hits home that winter has arrived when Chile’s ski resorts witness the first significant snowfall of the year — exactly what has happened at Valle Nevado, located on the El Plomo foothills in the Andes Mountains, 30 miles to the east of Santiago.

As the largest ski resort in the Southern Hemisphere, the slopes of Valle Nevado are perched 17,815 feet above sea-level and cover more than 23,000 acres of skiable terrain. The recent downfall of snow is great news for Chile’s ski enthusiasts and tourists alike, who can’t wait for the summer to end so that they can hit the slopes.

Inspired by the famed French ski resorts residing in the Alpine Mountain Range, Valle Nevado boasts a number of modern and hi-tech services and buildings lauded as the most advanced in South America, such as the Andres Express ski lift. Three hotels, eight restaurants, apartments and other rentable accommodation ensure that all guests are well catered for.

Visitors are able to ski June through October in the heart of the Andes and can easily reach Valle Nevado from Santiago’s international airport. The Chilean ski resorts of La Parva and El Colorado are also close by, so there are a wide range of options for any kind of mountain excursions during both the winter and summer.
Together, these three resorts make up the “Los Tres Valles” — La Parva is a town and ski resort, housing ahalf-pipe Olympic training center located about 50 km northeast of Santiago, while El Colorado — boasting 12 new runs and extensive off-piste options — resides at 10,935 feet above sea-level. Both offer great skiing opportunities and exemplify the reason for Chile’s ever growing presence on the international ski scene.

The country boasts a rich skiing culture and regularly sends competitors to battle it out on the slopes of the world’s most important sporting events, including the Winter Olympics. A number of young, rising stars are currently cutting their teeth on the world scene and are viewed as hot prospects. Eugenio Claro, at just 2 0-years-old and Henrik von Appen, 19, represented Chile at this year’s Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

Chile is also no stranger to hosting big ski events such as the North Face Chilean Freeskiing Championship and the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships, previously held in the Andes.