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First, because you’re a skier, and you’ve probably been obsessively watching ski movies while you sweat through summer. Second, because you want to ski steep Andean chutes, smash South American wind buff, and learn how to order drinks in Spanish.
Valle Nevado has 7,000 acres of skiable terrain. That’s three Jackson Holes. It’s all above treeline and it ranges from a park and a ski cross course to open bowls and to spicy chutes. A lot of the skiers at Valle Nevado stay on piste, and the wind tends to deliver free refills, so it’s easy to find fresh snow, even if it hasn’t snowed in a while.
For the best inbounds terrain head to the Tres Puntas T-bar and pick your way through the rocks of Twist and Shake. Be warned: the Andes are all rock, so, during early or late season and low snow years, you might want to bring skis with bases you don’t care about.
There’s a ton of good backcountry really close to the resort, and you can see skiable lines in the mountain all around. Go with someone who knows their way around as avy conditions can be sketchy. For newbs to the area, Valle Nevado holds guided backcountry trips to get you acquainted.
From every angle of Valle Nevado you can see lines just out of reach. Heli-Ski Valle Nevado operates right out of the base area and their tenure is huge. Heli guide Mike Barney says that their runs can be 6,000 vertical feet.
If you like wine and meat you’ve come to the right country. Chilean wine is reasonably cheap and really good. Local Carménère is a good bet. For food, hit the buffet at the Mirador del Plomo. Across Chile, the beef is really good and so is the seafood. If you have the option to eat sea urchin don’t turn it down.
Chileans don’t really après, but there’s usually an afternoon rager in the pool. Bring wine in plastic cups and be prepared for Brazilian men in tiny bathing suits.
Things start late for a ski town. If you show up at the Bar Tres Puntas before 10 p.m. you’ll probably be the only one there, but around midnight there should be a dance party brewing. Drinks are stiff. Hope you like piscolas (pisco and Coke) and techno.
Valle Nevado shares a ridgeline with El Colorado and La Parva. La Parva is known for its chutes and for being the home of the Eye of the Condor contest, while El Colorado gives you access to backcountry road laps. If you stay in Valle Nevado’s lodging for a week they’ll give you a ticket to each of the other resorts.
The resort is isolated, so it makes the most sense to stay on the hill. The cheapest option is the Hotel Tres Puntas, which is conveniently home to the Pub Tres Puntas, the most fun bar on the mountain.
If you’re planning to stay for a while, look into renting a place in Farellones, down the road. It’s where some of the seasonal workers stay, and it’ll give you access to the other two resorts if you want some variety.
You can fly direct to Santiago from Miami, Dallas, New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. Get a group shuttle up to the mountain, because the road is tough and you won’t need a car once you’re up there. Take a day or so to check out the bars and awesome street art of Santiago on your way through.