A skier at Cerro Catedral, Argentina.
For waist-deep powder and crowd-free slopes, embark on a South American adventure. Ski resorts in Chile and Argentina are in full swing between mid-June and early October.
Here are the top five summer ski resorts in South America:
VALLE NEVADO, CHILE
Resort stats and snowfall . . .Valle Nevado (3025m/9925ft) is known for its beautiful sunshine and lofty altitude. Its 37 kilometres (24 miles) of local pistes combine with neighbouring El Colorado and La Parva to make up the ‘3 Valleys of the Andes' - the largest skiable domain in the Southern Hemisphere - with a total of 107 kilometres (66 miles) of terrain.
High-altitude skiing (up to 3670m/12041ft) means sunshine and excellent snow conditions are almost guaranteed. Skiing back to your accommodation is also often possible. The powder-packed slopes are suitable for all levels (14 percent green, 30 percent blue, 42 percent red, 14 percent black). Valle Nevado has a variety of lifts, including the Andes Express chairlift - the only quadruple high-speed chair in Chile and the most modern in the region.
Off-pisters flock to the deep powder bowls above the tree line. Valle Nevado's snowpark ‘Monopark' is located at the Candonga Lift, and features boxes, jumps, rails, and a quarter-pipe. The main events are the Bilabong Slopestyle, Pink Sessions, Arnadora Brasilera Cup, and the Atilio Cup.
When to go . . . Mid-June to early October
Ski lessons . . . A team of 80 bilingual instructors are available at Valle Nevado, offering private and group lessons.
Lodging . . . Accommodation is relatively limited with three hotels and an apartment complex, so book ahead. Santiago is 60 kilometres (37 miles) away with a wider choice of overnight options.
Apres-ski . . . Off-slope action includes a selection of late-night bars, a fitness centre with heated pool, shopping, karaoke, bingo, pool, and fashion shows.
Ski pass prices . . . 39,500 CLP one day; 234,000 CLP six days (Chile Peso)
Transportation . . . Valle Nevado ski resort is 60 kilometres (37 miles) northeast of Santiago Airport (SCL), right in the middle of the Andes Mountains.
Swatch Skiers Cup 2012, Valle Nevado
Copyright: Swatch Skiers Cup
Resort stats and snowfall . . .Portillo (2512m/8241ft) is South America's oldest ski resort. It has 45 kilometres of pistes accessed by 14 lifts (drags and chairs) and offers a skiable height of 3348 metres (10984ft). Portillo's owners have strived to keep the resort small and intimate. In fact one of its biggest selling points is that there is no town, just one hotel which accommodates 450 people at a time, meaning there are rarely any lift queues and pistes do not suffer from over-crowding.
Portillo offers something for all levels, from well-groomed beginner and intermediate runs to steep, powder-packed off-piste. The resort's high altitude means good snow conditions and skiing back to your accommodation is often possible. Portillo has played host to the World Championships and the World Speed Trials.
When to go . . . Mid-June to early October
Ski lessons . . . Portillo's ski and snowboard school is equipped with certified instructors, coaches, and trainers. Classes can be custom-designed for your needs.
Lodging . . . There is one hotel, Hotel Portillo, with 400 beds, so book ahead.
Apres-ski . . . The hotel has a heated outdoor pool, gymnasium, cinema, bar, and disco.
Ski pass prices . . . 35,000CLP one day (Chile Peso)
Transportation . . . Portillo is 164 kilometres (102 miles) north of Santiago Airport, approximately a two-hour drive. The resort is set in the Andes Mountains on the Chile/Argentina border.
Portillo Hotel, Portillo, Chile.
Copyright: Andes Ski Tours
EL COLORADO, CHILE
Resort stats and snowfall . . . El Colorado (2430m/7972ft) is the closest resort to the Chilean capital, Santiago. Its 38 kilometres (24 miles) of local pistes combine with neighbouring Valle Nevado and La Parva to make up the ‘3 Valleys of the Andes' - the largest skiable domain in the Southern Hemisphere - with a total of 107 kilometres (66 miles) of pistes. El Colorado's 30 local runs are served by 20 lifts (16 drags and four chairs), which transport skiers to a maximum altitude of 3333 metres (10934ft).
The ski centre is a cone-shaped peak with wide-open fields. It sits between Valle Nevado and La Parva and is closest to the Chilean capital, Santiago. The ski area best suited to beginners and intermediates, but advanced skiers can head to the eastern side with its huge snow dumps and steep chutes facing Valle Nevado. There are also specialised tracks for those wishing to practise various disciplines such as Slalom, Giant Slalom, Super Giant, and Moguls. The Park Colorado is the largest snowpark in Chile and features jumps, rails, and boxes for all levels.
When to go . . . Mid-June to mid-October
Ski lessons . . . 40 instructors coordinate ski and snowboard classes, both individually and in groups of up to 10 people. Children aged 4 to 10 can join the specially designed kids' ski program.
Lodging . . . El Colorado has two villages: Villa Farellones and Villa Colorado. Farellones is older, larger, more traditional, and less expensive. Colorado is modern, with a hotel and several condo buildings. Less expensive lodging can be found in Santiago, 36 kilometres (22 miles) away.
Apres-ski . . . The resort has bars, restaurants, and a disco. The nearby city of Santiago has a wider choice of nightlife.
Ski pass prices . . . 35,000CLP one day (Chile Peso). Skiers can also purchase interconnected tickets with neighbouring Valle Nevado and La Parva.
Transportation . . . El Colorado is the closest ski resort to Santiago city and airport. Set 38 kilometres (24 miles) east of the capital, El Colorado is in the heart of the Andes Mountains.
Skier at El Colorado, Chile. Copyright: El Colorado Tourism
CERRO CATEDRAL, ARGENTINA
Resort stats and snowfall . . . Cerro Catedral (1030m/3379ft) has access to 120 kilometres (75 miles) of terrain. Its 50 ski runs, suitable for beginners, intermediates, and advanced levels, are served by 38 lifts, including a modern bubble and six-seater chairlift. Panoramic views stretch across wooded valleys and deep canyon from the highest lift (2180m/7152ft),
The slopes are dotted with 20 mountain huts for snacks and refreshments. A snowpark features rails, boxes, and ramps for freestyle fans and hosts four freestyle events: Big Air Reef, Rip Curl Winter Search, Girls Only, and Gorilla Day.
When to go . . . Early June to early October
Ski schools . . . 300 professional instructors with international certification offer lessons in different languages. Group and private lessons are available for Alpine skiing, snowboarding, carving, telemarking, Nordic skiing, and ski touring.
Lodging . . . The resort has 2000 beds, including apartments and hotels (three-, four-, and five-star). It also is possible to stay in the nearby city of San Carlos de Bariloche.
Apres-ski . . . The resort features bars, restaurants, discos, a shopping mall, and an Internet café.
Ski pass prices . . . 180ARS one day; 990ARS seven days (Argentina Peso)
Transportation . . . Cerro Catedral is 30 kilometres (19 miles) from Bariloche Airport, approximately a 30-minute drive.
A skier at Cerro Catedral, Argentina.
LAS LENAS, ARGENTINA
Stats and snowfall . . .Las Lenas (2239m/7346ft) has a skiable height of 3429 metres (11249ft). Its high altitude means good snow conditions are assured throughout the season and skiing back to your accommodation is often possible.
Its 64 kilometres (40 miles) of well-groomed pistes (27 runs), suitable for all levels, are linked by 13 lifts. Las Lenas is known for its deep powder, the best of which is accessed from the Marte chairlift. Experts flock to Las Lenas for its steep bowl and long couloirs. A snowpark features jumps, bumps, and rails. Three mountain restaurants serve refreshments and local dishes.
When to go . . . Early June to mid-October
Ski schools . . . Group and private lessons are available with more than 150 instructors. Classes are available for all levels, from workshops for experts, snowboarders, off-pisters, and children: ‘Snow Kinder' and ‘Junior Ski Academy'.
Lodging . . . A selection of three-, four-, and five-star hotels as well as apartments, aparthotels, and dorm houses are available in the resort. In total there are 3047 beds.
Apres-ski . . . Evening entertainment is centred round the bars and restaurants. There is also a casino and disco for night owls.
Ski pass prices . . . 209ARS one day; 811ARS six days (Argentina Peso)
Transportation . . . Fly to Buenos Aires - Ministro Pistarini International Airport (EZE) then take a domestic flight to Malargue Airport (LGS), which is 70 kilometres/43 miles from Las Lenas.
Las Lenas, Argentina surrounded by big-mountain terrain
Copyright: Las Lenas