Ski mountaineering in South America

May 5, 2004
Outside Magazine
Week of July 2-8, 1998
Urban stargazing for amateurs
Ski mountaineering in South America
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Stellar hiking in Wyoming’s Wind River Range

Ski mountaineering in South America
Question: How about a good ski mountaineering trip in South America (Bolivia, Chile, or Argentina)? Something in which the emphasis is on skiing, not mountaineering, something akin to the many descents in the Tetons.

Caleb Melamed
Boulder, Colorado

Adventure Adviser: You just hit on a travel niche that seems to be completely overlooked by American outfitters. As you alluded to in your question, there are endless opportunities for trekking and mountaineering in Chile, Argentina, Bolivia, Peru, and Ecuador, but I’ve found only one company that offers an itinerary that emphasizes skiing rather than mountaineering. Aventuras Patagonicas (888-203-9354) has a backcountry ski trip to one of the remotest regions on earth — the northern Patagonia ice fields. The trip starts with a boat ride and pack horse trip to the base of the Nef Glacier. You’ll start hiking below snowline, but eventually make your way to the ice field, which is surrounded by hundreds of Patagonia peaks. From there, you’ll ski the base of Cerro San Valentin, the highest peak in Patagonia (or you can arrange a custom climb all the way to the top if you so desire). After getting your fill of San Valentin, the next stop is Cerro Hyades then an ascent of Cerro Largo, a mountain that begs to have telemark tracks rippling down its wide-open bowls. Though you don’t need expert backcountry skills for this trip, you do need to be in good shape and good spirits, since the Patagonia weather can oftentimes put a damper on the skiing. The date of the trip is December 1- 18 , and it costs $3000, with a balance of $2,400 due October 10. The cost includes professional mountain guides, accommodations and meals (except in Santiago), land and water transportation, horses, expedition food, and community gear (tents, stoves, cooking gear, medical kit, etc).

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