Skiing South America this summer

Week of December 8-14, 1995

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Skiing South America this summer
Question: I'm considering a ski trip to Santiago next summer. I will be meeting my brother who lives in Belém, Brazil. I am interested in the costs involved in this trip and what skiing facilities and conditions I should expect. What is the best time to go for good skiing? Powder or spring conditions would be desirable. I don't require luxurious accommodations, but would like someplace clean and with safe food. Are there any government promotions available? I have heard that they are trying to develop tourism there and that cheap packages exist.
Jeff Lefebvre
Stratham, NH

Adventure Adviser: High ski season in the Andes runs from late June through mid-October, and as long as you're committed to flying 5,000 miles on your summer vacation, the Southern Hemisphere is the place to go for copious amounts of snow and radical terrain. In addition to powder conditions that rival any snow on earth in a good year, Chile and Argentina offer first-class ski resorts with sheer cliffs, mind-bogglingly steep couloirs, and a hearty commitment to après ski. Don't be alarmed by what looks like dangerously antiquated lift equipment--you'll be so distracted by the knee-deep powder and European jet-setters to care. Think of it as all part of the foreign adventure.

For great skiing just 90 miles northeast of Santiago, head up to Portillo. It has 11 lifts, 2,515 feet of vertical, and groomed intermediate and advanced slopes--not to mention 2,760-foot, 45-degree Roca Jack, which has been called the toughest run in the world. A week ski package at Portillo--including all meals, lift tickets, accommodations, and taxes--ranges from $700 per person for a four-person bunk room during the off-peak ski months--June, September, and October--to $1,000 per person in July and August. A double room package will run you $1,000 off-peak and $1,500 peak. For more information, call the resort at 011-56-2-231-3411.

Another good bet is Las Leñas Resort, seven hours from Mendoza in a remote wilderness valley in western Argentina. With its 15 square miles of terrain and 4,000 feet of vertical--making it twice as big as Colorado's Copper Mountain, Winter Park, and Breckenridge combined--it's no wonder that Las Leñas is Argentina's magnet for serious skiers. A week ski package, including lodging, two meals a day, and lift tickets, starts at about $600, depending on the month and type of accommodation. Call Las Leñas's stateside booking agent at 800-862-7545 for more information. For additional resorts, check out "Storming the Southern Hemisphere" in the Destinations section of our May 1992 issue.

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