Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Argentina and Chile

Some notes on the areas and peaks skied.

Many thanks to Jorge, Craig, German and Chao at Andescross.com

Cerro Chall Huaco

A small (2000M) mountain close to Bariloche. Start from the Refugio Neumeyer which can be reached with a 4X4 or if you have a 2 wheel drive car you would probably need to walk an extra km. or two. Beautiful forest approach to the tree line followed by easy skinning and a rocky summit. Unfortunately the weather was cloudy when I was there. Nice descent. Beer and drinks served at the Refugio Neumeyer.

La Laguna

This a small area adjacent to the Cerro Cathedral Ski area. We skied a couple of really nice lines from the ridge overlooking the Frey hut. Exit through the trees back to the ski area. This was our warm up day with Jorge.


This is an amazing back country ski area about an hours drive south of Bariloche. The mountains are complex and fascinating with endless great lines. It is privately owned so you need to make use of the lodge and transport arrangements (not cheap) but it was well worth it in my opinion. We had three days skiing various lines around Cerro Villegas.

Volcan Osorno

Unfortunately we missed the weather window for our first Volcano in Chile. Super icy snow and high winds drove us back to the refugio by mid m morning.

Volcan Villarrica

A 5 hour drive from Osorno to Pucon; the base town for Villarrica. The snow had receded to the mid station in the ski area allowing 4x4 access to a higher starting point. The ascent is around 1200M, most of which is at a reasonable angle but the last section steepens significantly. We used crampons and carried skis for the last section to the crater edge. The descent was steep and icy at first but the angle gradually eased giving way to perfect spring snow and a fantastic long descent back to parking. Great views of the surrounding country side and LLaima in the distance.


Another long drive to Malalcahuello which is a good base for both Lonquimay and Llaim.  The beautiful approach drive through the Araucaria forest reachs parking at the ski area. The ascent is around 1000M to the crater rim. Again, there terrain steepens towards the top but it is more amenable than Villarrica. It is possible to ski into the crater if conditions allow. A long diagonal descent gets you back to the parking depending on snow cover.


A really inspiring volcano. Llaima dominates the surrounding land for miles around. It’s big (3125M), steep and a perfect cone shape if approached from the north. Lots of recent geology to observe on the 4x4 approach followed by a long ascent of almost 2000M to the crater rim. The descent isn’t quite as steep as Villarrica but it is long and sustained. You would definitely be in for the big ride if you fell near the top.


A big hill (3740M) on the Argentinia/Chile brorder, close to Bariloche. It is possible to make the ascent in a long day from Pampa Linda but most people choose to stay at the Refugio Otto Meiling above the tree line. We choose the latter option. The forest approach is steep, giving way to an easier angled ridge above the snow line. There is short exposed section about 1km before the hut which is not technical but definitely not a good place to trip over your tips. The weather deteriorated over night to strong winds and snow. We skinned up the glacier for about an hour before the weather forced a retreat. According to a team that summited the Argentine peak on the previous day, the glacier approach is easy angled with one crevasse just before the saddle. A short technical section from the saddle (not ski-able) gets you to the summit.


Fly to Buenos Aires, then Bariloche. For a Volcanoes only trip, fly to Santiago then Temuco in Chile.

I stayed at the excellent Hotel Las Marianas while in Bariloche; not cheap but a great place to meet other skiers and no shortage of skiing help and advice from Mariana and Cali. Bariloche is a busy town with plenty of amenities including outdoor/ski shops. The Cerro Catedral Ski area is short drive or bus (number 85), from the centre of town.


John Biggar has good information on his Andes.org.uk site and downloadable guides.