Las Leñas official opening day: June 21, 2010
The South American ski season is just about to kick off. The ski resort of Las Leñas has been gettitng hammered with snow which should make for a solid opening day. For more info and videos of skiing in South America check out UnofficialAndes.com
Here is a video from our first day of the 2009 S.A. season.
Here is a look at some of the differences between skiing in North America and South America.
South America is home to some of the best terrain on the planet. The Andes are a burly mountain range with chutes and steeps on par with anything you will find in North America. Often the best terrain at South American resorts is left untouched for days or weeks after a storm due to lack of freeriders. On the flip side, groomers, parks and general terrain is not as well maintained as most North American resorts.
Facilities in South America, like in North America, vary widely from resort to resort. Places like Portillo and Valle Nevado are quite nice and are fit to host even the most persistent of guests. Other resorts are nothing more then an old rundown lodge and a few slow pull lifts. Across the board, South American resorts are improving their resort experience by buying new grooming cats and installing high-speed chairs. Still, the bulk of lifts in South America are hand-me-downs from North American and European resorts and the cats are even older tired machines that can't buff out the slopes the way newer ones can.
The general cost of skiing in South America is far less then it is in the states. For example, a lift ticket in South America generally runs about half of what a lift ticket would cost in the USA. Within South America Argentina is often cheaper then Chile. The big factor to consider in the cost of skiing in South America is the flight. Flights from the USA run between $600 and $3000.
Skiing is an expensive sport. No matter where you go in the world it is generally the more affluent members of society who are out on the slopes. It’s true that most ski gear in South America is not on par with what you will find in the States, but don’t be surprised when you see BMW’s, Porches and Rang Rovers in the parking lots. But what about their skiing ability? To be honest, the average skier in South America is not as skilled as their North American counter part. This is largely due to the fact that there are more accessible ski resorts in North America. That being said, many of the best skiers from around the world come to South America to extend there endless winters.