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Skiing in Chile: Ready, Set, Go!

Spring in the northern hemisphere is finally breaking. Birds are tweeting, trees are coming into bud, in the mountains the snow is beginning to melt... and for some of you that means another winter has gone by without achieving your dream of learning to ski. But don’t despair, all is not lost! Because down here in Chile, the coming of June means the start of the southern ski season and wouldn’t you know it, this week we’ve had a veritable deluge of snow in the mountains, up and down the country. Right on schedule! A week of heavy snowfall dumping fresh powder on the mountainside (and more on the way if the forecasts are to be believed) means this could be one of the best ski seasons in Chile for many years, so there’s never been a better time to learn to ski. If you’re thinking of coming to see us here in Chile for a skiing lesson, here are some tips to get you started!


Where to ski in Chile

Around Santiago
Chile’s capital city Santiago is blessed with an enviable location, tickling the very toes of the Andes Mountain Range. It’s one of very few cities in the world where you can leave your cosy bed first thing in the morning, head to the slopes for a full day of skiing and be back in the lively downtown area for a nightcap. Here are some of the most popular resorts near to Santiago:
valle nevado liftsValle Nevado - Considered one of the most modern ski resorts not just in Chile but in all of South America, Valle Nevado is just an hour and a half from the city. There are 13 lifts with access to some sublime powder runs as well as opportunities for off-piste.
El Colorado - This is where the locals come to ski and surely there can be no bigger seal of approval. The mountain’s cone-shaped peak and wide open areas mean this is also a great choice for beginners who are just finding their feet.
Portillo - Not the biggest of the ski resorts in the area surrounding Santiago but it is one of the best known outside of Chile. A two hour drive from the city, people have been travelling here to ski since the 1930s, taking to the slopes via Portillo’s unique slingshot lifts.
Elsewhere in Chile
If you’ve got a little more time on your hands and fancy seeing more of Chile’s spectacular scenery, there are plenty of other places you can head for:
Chillán - Six hours south of the capital by road, Chillán is a great place to ski if you’re looking for something a little unusual. The main ski slopes in Chillán take you down the side of actively smoking volcanoes that also provide naturally hot thermal springs for bathing.
Pucón - Smack bang in the heart of the Chilean Lake District, Pucón provides another opportunity to ski on an active volcano. You’ll have to head a little out of town to access the ski lifts, but it’s worth it when they drop you just short of a steaming volcanic crater!

What to Wear

At a loss for what to wear on your first skiing trip to Chile? Let us help you with that!
skiing in chileA base layer - This should be a tight layer that lies close to the skin (both top and bottom!) made from a warm synthetic material like polyester to hold in heat and wick away sweat.
A loose layer - A shirt or sweater to give you an extra layer of insulation but that allows air to flow in and out if you get too hot.
A ski jacket - This layer should be wind and waterproof to protect you from the elements and may also have another insulated layer as a lining.
Ski pants - For your first time skiing, you might prefer to use any old waterproof pants until you’ve decided you definitely want to invest. Bear in mind however that proper ski pants have added padding to help you survive those early falls (and you will fall!).
Socks - Bring several pairs of socks of different thicknesses so you can choose the right pair to ensure your boots fit correctly on arrival. Your feet shouldn’t be packed too tightly with socks as this can limit your circulation and leave you with cold toes.
Gloves - For skiing, your gloves should be thick but most importantly they should have a waterproof shell since wet gloves aren’t much good for anything.
A neck warmer - A tubular neck warmer is perfect for keeping cold drafts from creeping over the top of your jacket and will hinder you much less than a conventional scarf.
Sunscreen - It may be winter here, but glare from the snow along with the fact that UV rays in Chile are often much stronger than in other parts of the world mean sunscreen is an absolute must!

What to Hire

skisIf you choose one of Cascada’s Skiing Trips in Chile you won’t need to worry about the basic kit (we’ll sort out your boots, skis and poles for you, how easy is that!) but if you’re travelling independently or you want to go the extra mile here are some things to think about.
Skis - Beginner skis should be flexible to allow you to get to grips with new maneuvers at slow speeds.
Boots - Boots should fit snugly but not so tightly that you can’t wiggle your toes. Try bending your knees and check that your shins are able to touch the tongues of the boot.
Poles - Wear your boots and skis when choosing a pole and ensure that your elbows are bent at a ninety degree angle when holding the poles.
Ski goggles - These are an additional extra but are especially good at protecting your eyes from the sun’s glare which is especially strong in Chile.
Helmet - Not everyone chooses to wear a helmet but it can give beginners extra confidence and it might just save your life!
We’ll be looking at skiing in Chile in more detail over the coming weeks, so stay tuned!