Summer Snow 101: Getting Schooled in the Best Summer Skiing Spots
Chile has three principal ski resorts, all offering great snow and uncrowded slopes. The most popular are Valle Nevado and Portillo.
Valle Nevado offers dozones of well-marked runs, all above 10,000 feet, and miles of open terrain for experts. Valle Nevado was developed by the French operators of Les Trois Vallées. With 30,000 acres of skiable terrain able to accomodate up to 30,000 skiers at a time, it is one of the largest ski areas of the world. Skiers can have dry snow almost entirely to themselves. Visitors say the resort is like three Vails combined, offering the solitude of cross-country skiing with the convenience of lifts.
Portillo is Chile's oldest resort, and European experts favor its world-class downhill runs. It offers a low-key setting with some of the most challenging skiing in the Southern Hemisphere, including great heli-skiing.
Termas de Chillan, another quaint resort, boasts South America's longest chairlift (1.5 miles long). From the top, you can ski on virgin acres with no one else in sight.
Package tours to Valle Nevado run around $2,500-3,000 per week with round-trip airfare from Los Angeles, or $1,500-3,000 with round-trip airfare from Miami. Heli-skiing is available as well. Contact SnoSearch Ski Tours (800.628.8884; www.snosearchskitours.com). A week's skiing at Portillo starts at about $800 ($1,800 with round-trip airfare). Termas de Chillan is a slight less-expensive alternative. Package prices usually start around $550 a week, including loging, meals, and lift tickets. Contact Adventures on Skis (800.628.9655; www.advonskis.com).
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication