Snowboarding and skiing in October might sound a little too late in the season to be considering a powder adventure in the southern hemisphere, but believe us, it is not, and 2015 will go down as being one of the best to date. The spring storms that are currently hitting the central and southern Andes are providing some pretty impressive fresh, deep dumps.
In the past 48 hours, Valle Nevado, just a couple of hours from Santiago, has received a pretty impressive accumulation, locals are claiming 60-70 cm (over 2 feet)! El Colorado, located in the same area, had already closed for the season, but has since reopened due to the deep conditions and local demand. More snow is expected in the 3 Valley’s for the 19th and 20th of October.
While Portillo is closed for the 2015 ski season, they still have plenty of snow and the road to the ski resort (Chile and Argentina’s main international pass) has just re-opened after being closed for several days due to the large October snow storm. Corralco, located close to Temuco. approx 680 km south of Santiago was the first ski resort to open this year and is now loving every second of the southern tail of that same storm that is currently dumping those lovely drifts on the Santiago ski resorts. Corralco will most likely remain open into November.
In reality, locals know that October can be a great month for skiing down here, provided the weather is in your favor. As a rule, the longer daylight hours and spring days offer those bright crisp conditions where the cyan sky contrasts heavily with the pink tinged snow and the raspness of the cold air takes your breath away.
These persistent storms have been generated by the El Niño phenomenon. Everyone has heard of it but what in reality is it, and why does El Niño create great ski conditions in Chile, even in October?
Named after the Spanish word for “The Boy”; which refers to Jesus as the phenomenon is usually noted around Christmas time; El Niño has been scientifically defined as the unusual warming of the Pacific off the west coast of South America of more than 0.5 degrees Celsius for three consecutive months from the equator towards the central Pacific ocean. A brilliantly scientific explanation basically meaning when the Pacific warms up due to various other climatic coincidences, southern South America gets loads of rain. This can of course cause havoc for agriculture and often results in flash floods and other not so nice natural events, but the flip side is that for skiers it means an abundance of snow, and a lot of it! Unfortunately El Niño is not always predictable, though it does follow kind of a pattern with the biggest climatic changes appearing every 7 years.
Best places for snowboarding and skiing in October
Due to these uncertain conditions, those venturing for further afield might not consider October skiing as an option because the quality of the snow falls could go either way. However, if you are looking for backcountry touring and ski mountaineering opportunities then October is traditionally one of the best months. The volcanoes in southern Chile have fantastic hidden gems of runs as well as stunning panoramas which can be enjoyed for longer as springtime approaches lengthening the days.
These current outstanding conditions for the ski resorts located in the southern Andes means they could easily stay open until much later… but most have already closed simply due to lack of demand from local skiers. Corralco, close to Temuco, is however clocking up impressive visitor numbers this season with 75.000 visitors to date and 124 continuous open days since early July. This latter stat is better than Chillán slightly to the north and with Corralco being the only remaining ski resort open daily in the far south their competitive edge this year is enviable! If you are looking for the best place to ski in October, this one is hard to beat. Note: Antillanca ski resort East of Osorno will be open this weekend, October 17 and 18 due to solid conditions, and local demand from nearby towns.
Among the options for early October ski destinations, Argentine resorts such as Las Leñas, Chapelco and Cerro Catedral are also on the cards. All enjoyed an extended season too with most not closing down until the first week of October. This again was mainly due to lack of demand from the local ski market rather than poor snow conditions.
So, if you are searching for where you can ski in October then the options offered by these southern hemisphere resorts are definitely worth considering. If you prefer to join a guide rather than skiing solo then check out this link to PowderQuest’s backcountry touring trip or contact us here for more information.