Ski Arpa, Chile – Backcountry Skiing with Leg Power

Post by blogger | August 23, 2010      

The sun was out (a trend this year in this part of South America) and the breeze was light. While this recent adventure was an exploratory mission, it was a joy to be out on skins again after the month off since ski mountaineering on Mount Hood during our return from Denali.

Tim Brown

Tim Brown enjoying his job during our muscle powered day. This is a new line we took from the top of Cornisas, sweet steep and narrow. (Click image to enlarge)

We we had a slower day at Ski Arpa, thus a day off for me from helping out with the clients. I was obviously not going to spend my time sitting around the refugio, so I hopped on the first cat of the morning for a ride up to where the snow is. From then on it was last nights dinner providing the energy, rather than liters of diesel (for those of you just dropping by, Arpa is a snowcat skiing operation but with plenty of human powered touring if you care for that option).

Illegitimate Jaywalker

Illegitimate Jaywalker. Named for the amount of walking to get to it, and a little game we were playing the night before.

Tim Brown, Nick, and Martin Le-Bert Gildmeister (defunct link removed 2015) signed up to join the backcountry skiing adventure. First mission of the day, a peak named Punto Guanaco. Skis stayed on the back for this one as we walked up mostly rock to the summit. From here we could see our main goal. A peak/run we have since named “Ilegitimo Peaton” (translated Illegitimate Jaywalker). This west face provided a new aspect from what we had been skiing and a reasonable, yet long distance to travel to get there. Along the ridge there were several ups and downs, several skis on, skis off, and many a good view.

Skis OFf

One of the rocky sections that required shouldering the skis for a bit.

Another Transition

Another transition, this one skiing to booting to skinning.

Los Andes

Los Andes

Finally cresting up to our last small climb, we got excited for what looked like some good backcountry skiing off the top.


Tim Brown getting a taste of the Chilean backcountry.

The aftermath

The aftermath: the snow was certainly variable, but all carvable and fun.

After skiing the face we found good soft wind deposited powder along the valley floor all the way back down to the bottom where we would find our last climb up to Cornisas for the day. Finding ourselves on a northeast face we soon found that short sleeves were the way to go as we climbed the last 2,000 feet or so out of Valle Honda.


Martin, Andes Mountain Guide

Arriving at the top of Cornisas we decided to take a new line down a steep narrow chute. (The photo we led this post with.)

3,000 feet of skiing brought us back to our starting point and a few cold ones as we enjoyed a Chilean asado (barbecue) with the clients. Another day in another world…it will be a hot transition back into Colorado summer next week — but really only a few weeks until the snow flies again I hope.

(Guest Blogger Jordan White finished skiing all 54 Colorado fourteeners in spring of 2009. He’s a committed alpinist and ski mountaineer with his eyes on the the seven continents. Jordan blogs here.)


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5 Responses to “Ski Arpa, Chile – Backcountry Skiing with Leg Power”

  1. Caleb Wray August 23rd, 2010 2:23 pm

    Looking good Jordan, I was wondering when you were going to start pushing farther into the mountains. Tell Tim Caleb said hello.

  2. daniel August 26th, 2010 6:45 pm

    sweet! Is that Boulder Tim B?

  3. Jordan August 27th, 2010 3:05 pm

    Hey I think this is a different Tim. This one is from Aspen.

  4. Jess Meribel August 30th, 2010 6:19 am

    I think something is a bit wrong with this page as all I can see is copyrighted image logos?

  5. Lou August 30th, 2010 6:48 am

    Jess, I’d like to fix that for you but need to email you about it. Is the email you left with your comment the correct one to reach you with? Thanks, Lou

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