An Unusual Thrill – Summer Skiing in Valle Nevado

By the SNOW Biz Edit Team

There are few things more oddly exciting than summer skiing, or even better,  heli-skiing in summer. Beach, lake, sand, and ocean are benefits of the warmer months in North America for sure. But skiing 5,000 vertical of deep, untouched powder in a single run in the hot depths of summer is… well, an unusual thrill.

This kind of summer heli experience is readily doable in the Southern Hemisphere, at one of Chile’s most sought-after ski resorts: Valle Nevado. From July to September, this resort in the Andes serves as a luxurious home base for intrepid heli skiers. Its position at an altitude of 10,000 feet is perched as high as a condor’s nest, surrounded by fields and fields of endless snow, cliffs all around, and eye-popping views of a valley plunging below.

[blockquote style=”1″]Valle Nevado offers simply the best heli-skiing on the planet…So much so, that even guests of  other heli-ski perations will fly over to reach the valleys near Valle Nevado.[/blockquote] 

This kind of summer heli experience is readily doable in the Southern Hemisphere, at one of Chile’s most sought-after ski resorts: Valle Nevado. From July to September, this resort in the Andes serves as a luxurious home base for intrepid heli skiers. Its position at an altitude of 10,000 feet is perched as high as a condor’s nest, surrounded by fields and fields of endless snow, cliffs all around, and eye-popping views of a valley plunging below.

Gourmet cuisine, nightly entertainment, and spa and fitness facilities keep guests busy by night. By day, the “summer” action is split between skiing the smooth, rolling slopes of Valle Nevado, and skimming pristine, dry Andean powder courtesy of nearby heli operations.


Reaching Valle

The lodge at Valle Nevado is located only 60 minutes by car from the Chilean capital, Santiago, and about 90 minutes from its international airport. The access road winds up through a rocky, treeless landscape — a signature of the Andes — depositing skiers at the mid-mountain, ski-in, ski-out resort in time to catch a few runs before cocktails and dinner. For guests keen to reach the slopes of Valle at a speedier rate, helicopters can be arranged either from Santiago’s international airport (from $2,470 USD), or via the Tobalaba Aerodrome in the center of the city (from $1,370 USD).


Skiing Valle

Valle Nevado GondolaWith a total access to 7,000 acres of terrain, including Valle’s in-bound terrain and terrain accessed via an interconnect ticket to two neighboring resorts, Valle Nevado offers the largest amount of ski terrain in the Southern Hemisphere, as well as the most modern lift system on the continent.  A new gondola was installed in 2013. With a maximum altitude of 12,041 feet, 33% of the resort’s skiable terrain is ideal for advanced skiers, 21% for experts, 36% for intermediates, and 10% for beginners.

Skiers report few lift lines, as most visitors are here by the week (not the day). As a result, powder lasts for days, not hours. Best of all, Valle Nevado clocks more than 85% of its daytime hours in full sun. Bluebird ski days are common this high up in the Andes; the sight is made more spectacular with condors soaring overhead.

It is also common—and an extra thrill—to encounter the world’s fastest skiers training on the same slopes you are skiing at Valle Nevado. Olympic and World Cup ski teams venture here each summer for off-season training—last year alone the resort hosted world-class racers from Russia, Norway, and the United States. Freeride skiers and snowboarders turn up, too, mostly to appear in ski films and shoot fashion spreads for top magazines and ad campaigns—Valle Nevado welcomes the who’s who of skiing and snowboarding each season.


Heliski Valle Nevado

Valle Nevado Heli SKiing“Valle Nevado offers simply the best heli-skiing on the planet.” High praise from Kristina Schreck, the resort’s US public relations representative and frequent guest. “So much so,” she explains, “that even guests of  other heli-ski perations will fly over to reach the valleys near Valle Nevado.”

Choppers belonging to Heliski Valle Nevado meet guests at the helipad at Valle Nevado’s base. Its favored heli-ski terrain is located within a 10-minute flight into the Parraguirre Valley; enroute you fly above a sea of dramatic Andes peaks, including the Tupangato Volcano. On average, a skier can ride up to 5,000 vertical feet in a single run—all of it on wide open, powder-covered piste, a broad blue sky as a backdrop. At the finish of each heli day, guests are dropped directly on the Valle Nevado slopes—just in case you haven’t yet had enough skiing.


Après Valle Nevado

It’s pisco sours all around for skiers who’ve enjoyed a heli day. Chilean pisco is mixed with a pica lime to concoct this refreshing South American drink. Valle Nevado has several lounges in its resort area, including Bar Valle Nevado near the lobby of the main hotel, and the Pool Bar at which you can soak, sip, and witness the sunset while a DJ spins some beats. For live bands, a game of pool, and dancing late into the Chilean night, head for Bar Tres Puntas.

Dining options include La Fourchette serving French/Mediterranean cuisine, and a new restaurant opening on the lower floor of Hotel Valle Nevado called La Leñera, featuring Chilean-North American cuisine in a wood-and-glass environment, with a chic outdoor lounge overlooking the Andes’ valleys and peaks.


Hotel Valle Nevado

Valle NevadoThere are several lodging options at Valle Nevado, including hotel suites and on-slope condominiums.

The Hotel Valle Nevado is a ski-in, ski-out lodge with panoramic views. Renovated in 2010, the hotel features 53 guestrooms and suites — an ideal option for luxury stays. A five-night stay together with a day of heli-skiing (with four drops) starts at $3,152 USD per person, including lodging, all meals, lift tickets and access to the resort’s spa and fitness center.

For more info on ski vacations in Chile’s Valle Nevado region, visit www.ValleNevado.com

 

SIDEBAR:

Heliski Valle Nevado rates (August):

2 drops US $874

3 drops US $1,232

4 drops US $1,564

Heliski Valle Nevado rates (July & September):

2 drops US $1,149

3 drops US $1,464

4 drops US $1,637

 

 

For more info, visit www.ValleNevado.com