Miles Clark stoked in the Bariloche, Argentina backcountry. Photo: Snowbrains.
First off, if you’re going ski touring in South America, life is probably going down pretty smooth. It’s almost the end of winter here, (although in places like Squaw, Whistler and Mammoth, it just keeps on rolling). Lots of us in North America are thinking about flip-flops, surfboards and mountain bikes. But you know as well as we do, summer’s great until about July and then any skier or rider starts thinking about waist deep turns in blower pow. We know, it’s tough not to. Which is why the Southern Hemisphere, right about that time, starts ramping up for their ski season. And where better to go shred the backcountry than in some of the most epic terrain on earth?
So here are our favorite places to ski tour in South America. Grab your notebook and start writing this down.
Miles Clark in the Bariloche, Argentina backcountry. Photo: Snowbrains.
Northern Patagonia is home to some awesome touring. San Carlos de Bariloche, as it used to be known, is a mountain town nestled into a Lago Nahuel Lapi National Park, right on the shores of the lake of the same name. It’s about the most spectacular setting imaginable, with massive peaks all around and limitless opportunities for backcountry skiing and riding around Catedral Alta Patagonia. But what makes it really special is the plethora of alpine and backcountry huts dotted around the region. They’re all over. Check in with the local Club Andino Bariloche to learn more.
Nevados de Chillan backcountry. Photo: Nevados de Chillan.
If you’re starting here, then you’re heading up the mountain roads to Nevados de Chillan. Yes, this is a resort, but the resort comprises about 2% of the skiing on offer in this region. The mountains here are vast and the shredding is all time. You can tour to remote volcanoes, hot springs and shred long vertical for a lifetime. Well worth the visit.
Las Leñas, Argentina
Las Leñas, Argentina backcountry. Photo: Snowbrains.
The terrain around this little gem of a mountain town is awe-inspiring. Massive, jagged peaks that seemingly go on forever, litter the landscape. Las Leñas is no slouch as a resort, but the real skiing and riding is beyond the boundary. There are endless opportunities for backcountry touring and lots of huts to base out of or ski to. And Las Leñas is just a really cool place.
Ushuaia, Argentina backcountry. Photo: Snowbrains.
Who wouldn’t want to ski at the Southern most point in the Americas? Ushuaia is about as far south as you can go before making the crossing to Antarctica. It’s a hike to get to, but there’s something unspoiled and pristine about the terrain around Ushuaia and even the town has a cool vibe. You truly are at the end of the known world here and ski touring in the mountains at the southern tip of the continent is something magical. Get started at the Cerro Castor and head out from there.
Cajon de Maipo, Chile
Cajon de Maipo, Chile. Photo: wildsnow.com
Cajon de Maipo sits in a deep, remote valley in central Chile far from any ski resorts. It’s a little like some of the areas in Northern BC that are away from the hustle of the resorts of the south and the Rockies. The terrain up here is wild and rugged and there are some massive peaks, many in the 14-17,000 foot range. Like ski mountaineering? Then you’ve found the right place. This is definitely one of the less supported and more remote settings in this list but if you get the chance to spend some time in the mountains here, you’ll remember it for a lifetime.
The Andes run from Colombia all the way to Chile and the potential for skiing and riding is limitless. These are just a few spots that we really like. So book your tickets, pack your touring kit and go spend some time in South America this summer shredding the backcountry.
Be safe, ski hard.