Day on Nevados Chillan — Ice, Wind, and some Corn

Post by blogger | September 3, 2014      

Ice and sun, with rain. That’s the recipe for backcountry skiing in Chile out of Las Termas these past few days. Our first tour was a battle into 70 mph winds on the volcanoes above the resort. The next day we did a lower altitude outlying peak that was ok but not the alpine experience you can get on these peaks if weather cooperates. Yesterday was still windy but a bit less (as in about one percent less), so we hiked up from the ski resort and did a big traverse that dropped us back here to the Rocanegra lodge. The trip was super scenic, a classic tour.

The mountain was covered with a layer of shrink-wrap ice that softened to various degrees depending on altitude and exposure.

The mountain was covered with a layer of shrink-wrap ice that softened to various degrees depending on altitude and exposure.

Morning, heading up the piste.

That morning we attempted a simple walk up the piste for some binding testing. The ski patrol had not communicated with their resort office, here they are telling us that “randonnee” up the resort was not allowed. The lifts were closed due to wind, but the German alpine ski team was up there doing some training runs and they were concerned about a bunch of wandering journalists getting in the way. Things got worked out, but the slopes were so icy as to be dangerous. So after a good test of the Marker ski crampons we reversed course to the slopeside coffee bar.

Waiting for the sun.

Waiting for the sun. We got a laugh out of the incredibly loud techno dance music that was causing hearing damage on the deck — with the same song looping endlessly. Solution was some Canadian guy sneaker over to the speaker and pointing it up the hill. I noticed the lift skiers got rhythm after that, and our hearing came back. While sitting here we noticed the wind didn’t look near as rowdy as a few days ago, and the sun was out, so we stuck our skins on and ground out a fairly long slog to the upper reaches of the resort. At that point we traversed west over quite a bit of low angle terrain, then descended about 3,000 vertical feet to the lodge.

Removing skins for descent.

Removing skins for descent. That’s the western Chillan volcano rising above. I’d sure like to reach the top of that thing while I’m here! We’ll see what happens next few days.

Various angles and slopes for the skiing, most with zero avalanche danger.

Various angles and slopes for the skiing, most with zero avalanche danger. The lodge location is down somewhat to the left, out of the photo.

Contemplating the lands of Chile.

Contemplating the lands of Chile.


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4 Responses to “Day on Nevados Chillan — Ice, Wind, and some Corn”

  1. Lisa Dawson September 3rd, 2014 3:57 pm

    Icy conditions are at least good for giving the Kingpin a thorough test.

  2. Felipe September 3rd, 2014 6:28 pm

    Hi Lou
    I was in Chillan last august right after a decent snow fall. Unfortunately it rained afterwards and the wind made its work to turn the off-piste into crust and ice. It was difficult for me to ski those conditions. But I really liked the area for a future trip and this looks like a beautiful tour. Would you recommend it for non-expert skiers if weather and snow are appropriate? How long does it take?
    Enjoy your trip!

  3. Lou Dawson 2 September 3rd, 2014 6:39 pm

    Hi Felipe, you would need a guide for the trip we did, but you can go tour around above the resort and the terrain is pretty obvious. When doing so, I’d still always track on a GPS so you don’t get lost, the volcanic terrain is not logical. Nevados Chillan overall has huge potential for ski touring, but the resort is weird, when the lifts are closed they won’t let you tour up the middle of the resort and they thus scare off people who would otherwise be there and end up in restaurants etc. There is a way to tour up around the resort, but it’s not obvious.

  4. Mark Worley September 10th, 2014 6:31 am

    Ski crampons anyone? All conditions are good for testing.

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