#sendandreturn: Spring Skiing Southern Chile’s Araucania Region

Climbing above the clouds on Villarrica for spring skiing Southern Chile’s Araucania Region – a beautiful 5500’ ski run from the smoking crater to the parking lot. Contrary to the images below, the weather is not always beautiful on the border of Northern Patagonia. This was a day that started off with three hours of skinning in a whiteout and GPS navigation.

What is BCA’s #sendandreturn all about?  It’s about good decision-making based on the avalanche forecast, terrain and conditions, and the willingness to forgo sending it down a planned route for the sake of returning at the end of the day!  In this story, Tyler Reid enters a ‘no fall zone’ requiring him to focus on the ‘return’ of #sendandreturn. If you have a #sendandreturn story worthy of sharing on the BCA blog, send it to us, and we will send you a BCA Backy Urban pack as a thank you in return.

Story and Photos By BCA ambassador Tyler Reid

Skiing Southern Chile’s Araucania Region is a place that looks something in between Switzerland and Jurassic Park. Lush green valleys, white snowy volcanoes, fields of lava rock, and forests of one of the world’s trippiest trees, the Monkey Puzzle. I recently returned from my fifth trip to this area for some spring skiing on some of these white snowy volcanoes. And I was joined by a great group of folks from the U.S. and Australia. Here are some photos to tell the story.

Some of these mountains have small ski areas on the lower flanks, including this one, Lonquimay – used as a summer training grounds for the US Ski Team.

The Ascent. You can usually skin most of the way up, but often need to put on your ski crampons as you get higher. The last 1000 or 1500 feet to the summit booted up.

With a lack of features for reference, the summit can look close, but somehow it never gets closer. Climbing on the perfect cone-shaped, and a quite active volcano, Llaima.

The Descent. Controlled turns are recommended off the top, where the angle might only be 35 or 40 degrees, but is sustained for thousands of feet. An uncontrolled slide is not an option. The proverbial ‘no fall zone’ requires us to focus on the ‘return’ of #sendandreturn.

Lower down, the turns are corny and soft, the angle eases off, and you get to relax and just enjoy the skiing. With the temperatures typical of this time of year, alpine starts are counterproductive, as the skiing will be too firm when it’s time to come down. It’s counterintuitive, but better to sleep in, enjoy your coffee, and start up the mountain around 8 or 9 or even 10 am (depending on the objective).

The 2018 Spring Skiing in Southern Chile’s Araucania Region Volcanoes team. I’ve skied with these guys now in Southern Chile, in the Wrangells, BC, and from the summit of Mt. Elbrus in Russia. Japan is next… Sound interesting? Learn more at pacificalpineguides.com.