Volcán Villarrica, (pronounced vee-yar-REE-ka) is one of the most climbed mountains in America – for good reason. It is an active volcano in a beautiful setting, just outside a fun, little town.
What language do they speak in Chile? Spanish? Is English commonly spoken? These are questions I get all the time. Language in Chile is definitely an interesting topic...
I have been guiding and skiing in the south of Chile for over five-years now. It is still my favorite time of year, and, in my opinion, the best experience I lead each year. While these trips are certainly worthy of their title as ski trips, there is so much more that goes into them. I am near the end of my first trip of the season, and it's been absolutely unbelievable. We have had great skiing, and have managed to summit two volcanoes so far.
But it's the other stuff that makes the experience uniquely "Chilean." We have had unreal sunrises and sunsets, amazing food, lodging that feels like home and visits to the rivers and valleys that make this place so special.
I am posting a photo a day on my personal Instagram account – @independentdescents. But honestly, pictures don't do it justice. You should probably come down here and see for yourself.
I just returned from a three-day trip to the Invernada area, in preparation of a guided trip that will happen at the end of the month. Like so many things in life, Invernada is fun and easy when its just a bunch of dreams and ideas. When the work begins, that's when the commitment really shows through. I am glad to know that I am still so psyched about this that carrying a few 60-pound packs, six-miles, and 4000-feet up into the mountains was actually pretty fun.
This project is about opening doors for others. Right now, skiing in this area requires a tremendous amount of work - in terms of preparation and then just straight up hauling big loads long distances. The skiing in this area is really good, but it's not epic. By this I mean there are no huge descents, it's not particularly high, and most of the terrain isn't steep enough to brag about. It's a perfect place for most people to ski. The problem is, most people can't get there.
I have no intention of turning this into a place that everyone can go. But what if I can take the bite of the expedition? This is the experiment for this year. When I return with the client, we will be able to tour in with the type of load that is typical of a hut trip in Colorado. If it works, then the even more difficult work begins. If it doesn't, well, I got another opportunity to ski a beautiful place that few know of. As we say in Chile: a ver.
The first set of bags are packed. I have spent the week preparing for my first guided trip into the Invernada area. I will do something I have never done before – haul gear into the cordillera in advance and establish a base camp. This has been a fun challenge because it requires so much forethought. I can't tell you how many times I have created, revised and checked the lists of gear to go in first.
The goal is simple. I want to create a very "livable" environment for the client, but not require that we carry 80-pound packs to get in. Eventually I'd like to see even better structures designed for accessing the Andes, and this is just the beginning of that process.
Maybe someday I won't be the mule. For now, I am thrilled to feel so attached to something. It's fun to embark on a project without a known outcome. We'll see how I feel after a few days of hauling huge packs into the cordillera.
I will be back on Monday evening. In theory, I should be able to update the Chile Powder Adventures Facebook page from the field, but if that doesn't happen, it's not because something has gone wrong. I am using a new device and social media will take a backseat for a few days. Have a good weekend!
The ski season in Chile starts in late June and extends through October, but the prime season is from late July through the middle of October. Conditions can vary greatly from north to south.
Most people consider late August and early September to be the most consistent time of the year in the widest variety of locations. That said, in my experience, some of the best snow seems to fall in late July in the more northern regions. September is very spring like. It can feel like March or April in the northern hemisphere.
As a rule, I tend to start in the north and work south as the season progresses. The areas around Pucón and to the south are very stormy in July and August. This means rain in the valleys and poor visibility in the alpine. The exception to this is Bariloche, which tends to be in the rain shadow, so there are more sunny days between storms. Unfortunately, the wind tends to screw up the snow, but it has its moments of brilliance.
September is prime time for skiing volcanoes. The weather is more stable, but the snow levels are still low enough that there’s rarely any walking in dirt. There are still storms that roll through, but they tend to be one or two days, rather than one or two weeks. It ends up being a nice break and a good excuse to explore the valleys.
October brings even more sunny days and warmer temperatures. The resorts in the north will be closed, and the touring options are limited unless you are looking to bag a 6000-meter peak. In the south however, things are getting better and better. This is a slow time of year for tourism and you can have the mountains to yourself. The more southern volcanoes and Patagonia become ripe for adventure.
November is nearly summer, so to ski during this time means glacier-based trips in Patagonia or adventurous trips to Antarctica.