This is the guide to the best Southern Hemisphere skiing and snowboarding for 2019. Our focus here is going beyond the ski resorts, highlighting the top snow cat ski operations in South America.
The Southern Hemisphere ski season runs from June to October.
Let’s head south.
Cat Skiing in Central Chile
Chile’s first cat ski operation, Ski Arpa is a day trip from downtown Santiago and has been set up and branded as adventure skiing and snowboarding accessed via snowcats.
The rustic base south of the equator that includes a simple avalanche shelter and small parking lot is the gateway to big mountain skiing in the high Chilean Andes where you will often see condors and alpacas while skiing long descents of over 3,000 feet at a time.
Hailed as “a must-hit for any hardcore skier” by Powder Magazine, the alpine terrain expands over 4,000 acres and is accessed via a 4×4 dirt road and 2 Pisten Bully snow cats. Most days there are no more than 10-20 guests along with owners Toni and Anton Sponar and their team of ski guides.
This just may be one of the most unique ski experiences on the planet.
Southern Hemisphere Snowboarding on Volcanos
Home to some of the best snowboarding in the Southern Hemisphere, Nevados de Chillan ski resort has been slowly expanding their snow cat tours and adventures accessing the vast backcountry including zones previously only accessible via human powered splitboarding.
Chillan’s snow cat lead by Las Trancas local, Nico, offers single to multiple drops to the volcano’s crater, the valley of Aguas Calientes, and the hidden zones north of the main resort.
One of our favorites is an afternoon drop off at the crater (when not in an active state of course) at over 10,000 feet above sea level, followed by an awesome alpine glow lit descent back to the ski resort in time for Apres ski and a rewarding soak in the natural hot springs.
Cat boarding can be reserved via the ski school office near the new Hotel Alto Nevados.
Cat Skiing in Patagonia
With over 25,000 acres and home to the best cat skiing in Argentina, Baguales Mountain Reserve is the real deal and probably the closest you’ll find to a Canadian, B.C. snow cat tours operation in South America.
A high end land and resort development company, Burco, started the operation and the quality and attention to detail truly shows.
Located just over an hour from the bustling ski city and ski resort of Bariloche, Argentina, Baguales snowcats meet you at 5,250 feet above sea level and offers one to multi-day cat ski adventures. Backcountry ski touring can also be combined with your stay. Over night guests stay in cozy refugios under the Patagonian stars after a full day of Southern Hemisphere skiing and snowboarding.
IFMGA ski guides get you to 15,0000-16,000 vertical daily and end the day with tea, local red wines and Patagonian organic snacks by the open fire pit in the comfortable Mesada Lodge overlooking the private tenure.
Las Lenas Cat Skiing
Your Southern Hemisphere ski holiday in Las Lenas would not be complete without a backcountry ski adventure on their Pisten Bully 300.
It all started out years ago by offering rides to hotel guests looking to access fresh powder when the Marte chairlift did not open due to wind, mechanical issues, and other local factors.
The program has been expanded to offer half and full day snow cat tour excursions in the Las Lenas Valley. Now called the Extreme Expedition program, local ski guides get you to some of the best skiing previously accessed via long boot pack hikes or ski touring. The terrain ranges with options for stronger intermediates to experts looking for more of a wilderness ski experience in the Andes.
The Extreme Expedition program can be booked via the ski school. If you are already in Las Lenas, dial extension 1025 for more details and to make reservations.
Visiting Chile and Argentina in One Trip
If you have 2 weeks to explore Chile and Argentina, check out our guided Frontier-Las Lenas tour for advanced to expert skiers and snowboarders. You will visit 5 ski resorts, extensive backcountry and 2 cat ski destinations; Arpa and Las Lenas, with our bilingual team of certified ski guides.