The 2011-2012 ski season is mostly over in North America, but for those who still have that powdery itch, there is hope yet. Just head south for the summer!
After a challenging season across North America, this could be South America’s chance to shine…and it appears Chilean resorts are stepping up to the challenge. In preparation for a massive 2012 winter season, ski resorts across Chile are reportedly investing heavily in new infrastructure.
The most progressive of the bunch is Valle Nevado resort in Central Chile. Already famous for powder skiing, snowboarding and phenomenal views of the surrounding Andes Mountain Range, Valle Nevado will be the first Chilean resort to operate a gondola. Outfitted with seventy cabins, each with a capacity to carry six passengers, the gondola promises to complement the resort’s already modern infrastructure, which includes the quad chair Andes Express, the fastest lift in the region.
The new gondola will make it even easier for visitors to enjoy nearly every type of terrain — groomed slopes, bowls, and backcountry—at the resort that boasts the largest skiable terrain in South America.
In preparation for the projected increase in guests, the resort has also added a parking area, a new service point for ticket sales, a new rental shop, and a new restaurant. They are in the midst of their 10-year, $150 million property development plan that includes a new sports and entertainment center with a climbing wall and skate ramp.
Their neighbor, the El Colorado resort, is making similar improvements. They will also install the first ever wastewater treatment plant in the area as a precursor to four new apartment buildings near the site.
La Parva, host of Powderquest Women’s Freeride Camp with Ingrid Backstrom, will be developing the first half-pipe Olympic training center in South America.
With substantial improvements throughout the country, the future is looking bright for Chile’s ski and snowboard industry. Bright and white, that is. The Meteorological Office of Chile recently released forecasts for their oncoming winter season. According to the report, La Niña should be over soon, ending the reign of a natural phenomenon that caused fewer flakes to fall on the slopes for the last few years. Normal snowfall patterns should return, making this a season to celebrate.
Good snow, updated resorts, and the added bonus of practicing your Spanish and trying delicious Chilean food. Keep your legs ski-ready and celebrate summer with a second winter. Why not?
Photo credit: Jimmy Baikovicius