New for 2021! – Backcountry skiing and ski mountaineering in Patagonia. This is a two week road trip ski adventure, exploring backcountry resorts and making ski ascents of volcanoes in the Chilean Lake District. We start with a few days of off piste skiing and day touring at a small resort within an hours drive of the airport, before driving south to ski several volcanoes in the Chilean Lake District.
Please visit our Covid-19 Ski Information page for Covid FAQs, details of our new participation requirements, travel advice and what to expect on your trip.
Ski Mountaineering in Chile
Forming the backbone of South America, Chile is home to the longest mountain chain in the world, the mighty Andes. The range of skiing available is vast – with lift skiing up to 4000m, world famous big mountain skiing, reliable powder venues and a lifetimes’ worth of ski mountaineering objectives. On this trip we concentrate on enjoying some of the highlights, whilst avoiding the crowds.
We start the trip at Corralco ski station, close to the airport in Temuco, southern Chile. It’s a relatively quiet area and receives plenty of snow each winter, with excellent lift accessed off piste terrain and day tours, including an ascent of Volcan Lonquimay. We spend the first few days of our trip here, warming up and enjoying the mountains.
We then head south to the Chilean Lake District. The region has a long season and is well known for excellent spring ski touring on numerous volcanoes dotted around the area – many of these have small ski resorts on their flanks and several are active, so we’ll need to take current conditions into account! We remain flexible during this part of the trip, in order to make best use of weather and snow conditions. Most ascents are from the top of the lifts or the road head and require good levels of both fitness and experience, as all ascents involve long sections of skinning and skiing on steeper spring snow slopes.
The ski terrain lies between 1000-3200m, with a variety of snow conditions expected, so a light weight all round ski setup is best.
Chile is an incredibly diverse country: stretching from the Atacama desert in the north, to the icy wilds of Patagonia in the south. The country offers amazing scenery, laid back Latin American culture and many of the world’s finest wines! Combine these with hot springs for apres ski and a flexible road trip approach, and you have all the ingredients for a unique ski adventure.
This is an ‘off the beaten track’ ski trip to a less developed area, so a flexible mindset and a sense of adventure are prerequisites to enjoy this type of holiday. Expect the unexpected and you’ll have a great time!
To take part you should be at Fitness Level 3+ and Tech Level 3-4 (see our Fitness/Experience guidelines below). You need at least 3 weeks ski touring experience, including experience skinning with harscheisen and performing kick turns on steeper spring snow slopes – ie you must be safe and proficient at doing kick turns on steeper terrain. The skiing includes 5-9 hour days with long ascents on steep spring snow slopes and typically 800-1500m of ascent a day – so you can expect to be skinning for 3-5 hours a day. Type of ascent: we use 80-90% skinning during the trip – approx 10,000m of skinning up, 12,000m of skiing down, with day packs and at mid to higher altitudes.
Two IFMGA guides skiing with 8 clients.
Included in price
- 12 days of guiding
- All guides expenses
- 13 nights accommodation in Chile including breakfast
- All road transport and logistics during the trip in Chile
Excluded from price (see factsheet for extra cost estimates)
- Lift Passes
- Lunches and drinks
- Evening Meals
- Flights to Temuco
- Equipment hire
We stay at a variety of local hotels, cabanas and refugios during the trip. Much of the itinerary is flexible, to make best use of weather and conditions, so accommodation and skiing venues will vary in order to tie in with our objectives. Wherever possible, rooms are provided on a twin sharing basis, with higher occupancy rooms in some locations (eg refugios), but if you wish to book a single room, please let us know and we will confirm availability.
Overnight flight from London to Santiago.
AM Arrive Santiago, PM Internal flight to Temuco (1hr flight). Drive 1hr to our accommodation near Corralco ski station.
Evening Ski Briefing – your guide will run through kit checks and safety routines, before going on to discuss the current weather and mountain conditions and how these affect our plans. We’ll have maps and information on the area to show you, so if you’ve any further questions or last minute requests, then this is the ideal time to bring them up.
Monday – Wednesday
3 days skiing in and around Corralco Ski Station, including an ascent of Volcan Lonquimay (2865m). The resort lies on the southern flanks of the volcano and offers plenty of lift based freeriding opportunities, as well as day tours and many other good touring venues nearby.
Thursday – Friday
9 days ski touring around the Chilean Lake District.
We now head south on a road trip adventure to the Chilean Lake District, skiing volcanoes around the region. Possible objectives include:
- Volcan Llaima 3125m – a long 1200-1600m skin to the crater rim of this active volcano provides a brilliant day out.
- Volcan Villarrica 2847m – another classic active volcano of the region. Popular in summer, but much quieter in winter.
- Volcan Casablanca 1990m – thermal hot springs nearby and loads of great touring terrain in the area.
- Volcan Osorno 2662m – a big ascent with great views across the lake and to very active Volcan Calbuco to the south.
During this time we plan to make ascents on the best weather days, using any poor weather days for travel, lower level tours and thermal spa visits/sightseeing etc.
On Friday morning we make an early start for our final ski tour of the trip, before heading back to Temuco.
Early start to the airport for internal flight to Santiago and overnight flight back to London.
Arrive back in London, farewells and home.
NB ** All travel details TBC – we are currently waiting for revised flight schedules to Chile **
Your meeting point for this trip is London Heathrow Airport, on Saturday 18th Sept 2021 or at Santiago/Temuco airport. If you plan to fly to Chile via another route, then you must make suitable arrangements to make absolutely sure that you will arrive at Santiago or Temuco at the same time as the rest of the group – please inform us of your plans if this is the case.
Travel out: We are currently waiting for revised flight schedules – BA normally run direct flights from Heathrow to Santiago on a Saturday evening (14hr flight, arriving Santiago on Sunday morning local time). There are then a number of internal flights each day from Santiago down to Temuco (1hr flight).
Travel home: Saturday AM – internal flight from Temuco to Santiago, PM – return flight to London Heathrow, arriving UK Sunday morning local time.
Further information and travel links can be found on our Travel Planning page.
To enjoy this trip you should be comfortable operating at Fitness Level 3/4, and Ski Tech Level 3/4:
Fitness Level 3
You do 3-4 hours cv training/sport per week. At this level you are happy doing a 5-6 hr hillwalk, 50ml cycle or 3-4hr mountain bike ride without being totally exhausted. If you are into challenges – then the thought of doing a road sportive, or training to do a 1/2 (or maybe even a full) marathon, wouldn’t seem too ridiculous. On foot: you should be able to do the full Langdale Horseshoe: Langdale – Pike of Stickle – Angle Tarn – Bow Fell – Crinkle Crags – Pike of Blisco – Langdale in a day without finishing up exhausted. On skis: you can skin uphill at 300m/hr for 3-4 hrs a day (ie 8-1200m of ascent each day)
Fitness Level 4
You do 4+ hours CV training/sport per week. A 70+ mile cycle ride, or 20+ mile hillwalk on a weekend would hold no fears. If so inclined, you might be the kind of person who has done longer road sportives/challenge rides, a ~3.30hr marathon or other similar endurance events. Keen hillwalkers who happily knock off 3-4+ munros in a day also have this kind of fitness and endurance. On skis: you can skin at 400m/hr or could handle 4-6hrs skinning a day. (ie 1000-1400m+ of ascent each day).
Tech Level 3
Confirmed Off Piste Skier. You can put down a reasonable set of tracks in powder, but difficult snow types – eg heavy wet snow, crusts, poor visibility or 40dg slopes – can all cause problems (though you can cope with them safely, if not elegantly!) *Equivalent to Ski Club of GB Off Piste Level: Purple – Advanced*
Likely to say: ‘I’d like to handle difficult snow/steep slopes more confidently in better style’
Our Advice: Off piste coaching still useful. Intermediate off piste weeks are at your level too. If you want to get into ski touring, try a touring course or intro level ski tour. If you’re an established ski mountaineer, then intermediate level tours are generally suitable.
Tech Level 4
Advanced Off Piste Skier. You can put turns in through heavier snow and on icy 40dg slopes, but difficult breakable crusts and skiing a fresh track off piste in zero visibility are still somewhat challenging! *Equivalent to Ski Club of GB Off Piste Level: Gold – Expert*
Likely to say: I’ve been skiing ten/twenty years – I’d like to do your ‘……’ tour.
Our Advice: You will enjoy our advanced level trips. If you are new to touring – then you could do a Haute Route with two or three days of skills training beforehand (but don’t overlook the physical fitness needed as well). Mileage is the best way to improve your ability level.
To view all of our Ski Fitness Levels and Off Piste Technical Levels, please visit our Ski Ability page.
If you need to top up your fitness for this trip, please see our Ski Touring Training Advice page.
Hut to Hut Touring Equipment List
Just remember, every extra kilo on your back knocks 10% off your enjoyment on the descents – so try and keep the weight down!
Technical Clothing (more info here)
- Waterproof Jacket – preferably lightweight and breathable
- Overtrousers/ski pants – preferably with side zips
- Fleece mid layer – or equivalent
- Socks – specialist ski socks or a warm loop lined pair of mountain socks
- Wicking thermal top – not cotton please…
- Thermal leggings or ski pants
- Thin inner gloves
- Warm ski gloves or mittens, if you suffer from cold hands
- Warm hat
- Spare fleece/lightweight duvet jacket
- Water container – at least 1 litre
- Personal medications and blister kit – regular meds, zinc oxide tape, compeed and painkillers etc
- Lightweight head torch
- Ski goggles
- Sun glasses – CE rated 3 or 4 with side protection
- Sun and lip cream – factor 30+
- Wallet, passport, Alpine Club/BMC card (hut discount) and insurance docs
Hut Overnight Items
- Small wash kit
- Spare lightweight t-shirt/socks/pants
- Silk sheet liner
- Ear plugs
- (Hut slippers for indoor use, blankets/duvets and pillows are provided by the huts)
Technical Equipment (more info here)
- Rucsac 35/45l – try and avoid ones covered in too many features, just ski and ice axe attachments required
- Ski mountaineering boots
- Skis with touring bindings – some ‘freeride’ bindings are also suitable
- Ski strap – to keep skis together on your rucksack if we need to carry them
- Ski poles – with good size 5cm+ baskets (telescopic poles are not needed)
- Climbing skins – they come with the skis if you hire your kit
- Harscheisen (ski crampons) – they come with the skis if you hire your kit
- Metal snow shovel – must be a full metal shovel (plastic blades don’t work in real avalanche debris!)
- Avalanche probe
- Avalanche transceiver – must be a modern digital model (older analogue models are now obsolete)
- Harness, with 120cm sling and locking karabiner
- Crampons – lightweight model
- Ice Axe – lightweight model
- Helmet – a lightweight ski touring or climbing model – you may need this on certain parts of the route depending on conditions
Your guide will have all other safety kit, first aid and survival equipment.
Recommendations and Advice
Visit the Knowledge Base section of our website, where we publish an annual review of the years best new skis, boots and touring equipment, plus a range of other interesting tips and recommendations. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, please get in touch!
Backcountry UK in Otley offer an excellent ski boot fitting service, one of the best ranges of ski mountaineering equipment in the UK and top notch advice.
Please visit our Equipment Hire page for recommended hire shops in your resort, and Alpine Guides hire equipment price list.
For this trip you must have specialist travel insurance providing medical, emergency search/rescue and repatriation cover for off piste skiing and ski touring, as outlined in the trip itinerary. We also strongly recommend that you purchase cancellation cover, in case you’re unable to attend your trip due to personal circumstances or injury. Please arrange your insurance as soon as your trip is confirmed to run.
Please note this trip is outside European Territorial Limits for most insurance providers, so you need to purchase worldwide cover.
Further details can be found on our insurance info page.