The Southern Hemisphere just got hammered by major winter storms from a massive cold airmass moving out of the Antarctic. Copious moisture, good dynamics, and freezing levels down to 1000 feet made for historic snowfall across central Patagonia from Thursday to Saturday. In some cases, the snowfall was so prolific it shut down major airports, transportation corridors, and resulted in power outages region wide.
Photo Gallery from across Patagonia (Photo Credit: Cerro Chapelco, Informeblanco, H. Pagnanelli, M. Ciotti)
Ski areas from Cerro Chapelco in the north down to Cerro Perito Moreno in the south experienced up to three feet of snow on average. Certain favored areas saw even more and the towns and resorts are still digging out. The best part of this storm is the lack of significant wind, which means the snow quality is top-notch Patagonian powder!
The storm has just cleared and the sun is shedding light on the amazing coverage. The density of the snow is perfect for continued base building across the Andean resorts. We are taking this time to get an assessment of the snowpack and avalanche conditions as the winter kicks back into gear. Cold temps will prevail through Thursday and then a brief warming trend takes hold with moderate winds. Stay tuned to our blog for updates on weather and conditions.
Our Signature Tours will be kicking off this August, and availability is limited. With trips ranging form ski resorts and lift-accessed backcountry skiing, to ski touring & splitboarding, backcountry hut trips, snowcat skiing and snowmobiles, we’ve got something for everyone, skiers and snowboarders alike. Visit our Reservations page to book your South American ski adventure, or Contact Us for more information. Saludos!
The Austral winter is in full swing with all ski resorts now open across South America. A vigorous series of storms impacted the Andes from early to late June and laid down a nice base. Then the sun came out and it felt like mid-spring. Ski conditions took a bit of a hit, but with good visibility and a stabilizing snowpack, riders were out in full force. A few passing impulses late last week led to some dust on crust situations, but good snow could be found in favored locations.
Not to worry though, the storm track is lining up again and we are expected to get a good shot of snow starting tonight through the weekend:
We are already running tours in select areas and working with our partners to provide memorable trips for our guests. As we continue to receive more snow, we will be getting further afield and exploring the vast Patagonian wilds.
Trip Report: Mallin Alto
Last week we visited our friends at Mallin Alto to sample their incredible terrain and get a handle on the snowpack for the future:
This is one of our favorite locations to visit in Argentina, and their terrain, hospitality, and backcountry accommodations are unmatched. Since their inception, we have been working together to provide guests with a truly unique and authentic Patagonian experience. You can read more about Mallin Alto in Ascent Magazine’s feature article from February 2017.
We are excited to be running trips this early in the season and have had great feedback from our clients thus far. With the heat wave crushing North America, it is time to get your friends and gear up for a second helping of winter. August and September are the best times to book trips in Argentina due to a deeper snowpack, fewer crowds, and of course, the infamous Santa Rosa Storm. We currently have seats available for you to join us on one of our Signature Tours. Stay tuned as we continue to keep you updated on conditions and trip reports.
As you may have already heard, it’s been dumping in the Andes Mountains of Chile and Argentina. Some areas have reported up to 150 cm (5 feet) of new snow in the past week! As we are still rejoicing and giving thanks for the deep powder that has fallen, another round of storm systems are headed our way!
Winter has certainly arrived in South America, and it has come in like a lion this year. The region of Patagonia, in particular, has seen historic snow totals for this time of year. The ski resorts of the Patagonian region have yet to open, but with another round of storms headed our way this week, most of the ski areas are expected to open this weekend. This would put us nearly a month ahead of last year.
A series of low pressure systems are currently making their way across the Pacific Ocean, carrying with them a great deal of storm energy and moisture. The main difference between this storm and the previous winter storms to hit the Andes this season are the intense Northwest and North winds associated with the passage of the first wave today and tomorrow, Wednesday, June 21 through Thursday, June 22. With up to 60 cm (24 inches) of snow in the forecast during that time, we could be seeing some significant snow loading on leeward slopes.
That being said, there is a good chance that we will see our first avalanche cycle of the 2017 ski season in the region of Patagonia. Expect some thin, stiff wind slabs to develop near on East, Southeast, and South aspects, along with widespread cornice development on ridgelines. Thicker and softer soft slabs further down the slope may end up being the greater danger, where more snow may have been deposited by the wind.
Colder and more dry conditions will develop by later in the day on Friday, June 23, accompanied by a significant drop in wind speeds. The second wave of this storm has the potential to produce just as much snow as the first, adding another 60+ cm (two feet+) and bringing the storm total to 120 cm (48 inches) of snow. However, the second storm wave looks be more driven by instability, with much less energy than the first wave. The snow totals of this second wave will depend largely on temperature, winds, and duration.
We are currently in an active winter weather pattern, and the result is a deep early season snowpack for South America. The snow is expected to keep piling up over the next week, adding to the recent snowfall already blanketing the peaks and valleys of the Cordillera de Los Andes.
We will continue to keep you updated on weather & ski conditions, as well as the latest ski resort openings for Chile and Argentina: see our resort openings post. This winter is coming on strong, and it looks like it’s going to be an epic ski season in Argentina this year. Our Signature Tours are scheduled for August 2017, so sign up to join the adventure and experience the unique and authentic experience of skiing in Patagonia.
As the snow continues to fall, space becomes more limited, so time is of the essence. Book your trip today! Visit our Reservations page, or Contact Us to get in touch.
Snow Conditions Report: Storm Plasters Southern Andes
When the skies opened up over the weekend, skiers and snowboarders took to exploring the peaks surrounding the Argentine Lake District. Hearty folks with the right equipment and training headed into the high terrain under their own power to access the goods. Another 70 cm (two feet) of light density powder with moderate Southwest winds made for good snow conditions in the upper reaches. This is on top of 70 cm from the week prior, making for a bit more base at mid-mountain. This has increased the avalanche hazard from low to moderate in the most wind affected areas.
The towns along the Andean front also received their fair share and some locals were reported to say this was the largest early season storm they had seen in decades. When the sun did come out it was quite the sight to behold. Definitely enough for us to start thoroughly researching flight itineraries and telling our friends to get their act together for the months ahead.
Check out this gallery from our local scouts in the field checking on conditions and getting a jump on their ski season:
Heading into the next weekend we should see another storm system approaching and there are plans for more ski areas to open, including the infamous Cerro Catedral-Alta Patagonia. Although snow conditions should be quite good, be wary as the crowds are eager as ever and the avalanche conditions may change with increased wind. Stay tuned to our resort blog as we keep bringing you more info on the developing winter in the Andes.
Hoy Mágico Cerro Catedral – Catedral Alta Patagonia Bariloche Argentina Bariloche. Quiero estar ahíRío Negro Turismo
A major winter storm is on track to impact the Andes Mountains of Chile & Argentina from tomorrow evening, Wednesday, June 14, through the night of Saturday, June 17. Over the course of this 36-hour period, over a meter (40 inches) of snow is expected to fall in the mountainous regions of Northern Patagonia.
This looks like it will be the storm to put the remaining South American ski resorts in the game – see our Opening Dates post for details. If the storm plays out as currently advertised, this weekend should be the official kick-off to the ski season in Patagonia – right in time for the Winter Solstice next week.
The above satellite images from the Servicio Meteorológico Nacional of Argentina illustrate the incoming low pressure system and associated moisture, currently on course to collide with the Andes Mountains tomorrow night.
The animated GIF image below is taken from the new GOES-16, formerly known as GOES-R, weather satellite. This is NASA’s latest, most high-definition weather satellite to date, launched in November of 2016. The imagery highlights the copious amounts of moisture headed toward the Patagonian region, and you can clearly make out the low pressure system driving the weather.
Once this weather system makes landfall, massive quantities of precipitation are expected. Strong pre-frontal winds will bring in a warm airmass before the onset of frontal passage on Wednesday afternoon. The storm will start out with rain in valleys and snow in the peaks, then the snow line will drop down to the valley floor as temperatures drop Thursday evening.
The bulk of the precipitation is expected to fall Thursday night into Friday morning, and with the associated cold temperatures, this should equate to some big snow totals across the Andes Mountains. The snow densities will start high and finish low: wallpaper paste at the bottom and cold, dry powder on top.
Luckily, it looks like temperatures should remain cold and the winds will remain light after the storm. That will allow the snow to settle in nicely and keep the quality high – good news for ski conditions.
But what does it all mean!?!? According to all of these beautiful swirling colors and computer model analyses, we’re about to get dumped on! It looks like it’s going to be an amazing opening weekend for some of the ski resorts in Chile and Argentina. Sunday, June 18, looks like a particularly good day for powder skiing in the Andes.
We all understand the anticipation of winter in our chosen hemisphere. The first storm clouds brew on the horizon and a certain chill enters the air. A dusting of snow on the highest peaks, juxtaposed with the colorful fauna below, make the heart yearn for the deep turns of a season on the brink.
For those of us that chase winter there is a constant search for the next fix. Traveling as we do to the far reaches of the globe for a second helping allows us to nourish our souls and connect with the mountain environs we love so dearly. We are also joined by the members of our tribe from across the equator. The dedicated souls that call the Andes home are excited to welcome the latest major storm. Reports indicate up to 70cm of new snow above 1400 meters (4600 ft) in the mountains surrounding San Carlos de Bariloche. The adventurous are already donning skins and riding the upper regions of resorts like Cerro Catedral-Alta Patagonia and Chapelco.
The latest storm cycle to hit the central Andes really made it seem like winter has arrived in Patagonia. While the Chilean side has already opened their doors to skiing, Argentina is just now getting the goods.
Speaking with locals like Inti Fernandez, a Bariloche ski instructor, it is apparent that the new snow is a welcome sight. “All of the seasons are special here, but when we get more snow it allows us to visit new places.” Fernandez has spent his whole life in the Andes and travels frequently to compete on the Freeride World Tour. As we spoke this morning, another storm was at the doorstep and he was excited to return for another dose of cold snow.
Stay tuned for more updates and keep your eyes on our opening dates post. In the meantime, check out this throwback edit from Adria Millan shredding steep lines across South America.
2017 Ski Resort Opening Dates: Argentina and Chile
Skiing and riding is officially underway in the Southern Hemisphere. Resort Openings are happening much earlier than expected this season. The latest series of powerful Pacific snow storms blessed the mountainous regions with a beautiful blanket of white. Skiers and snowboarders , and maybe even snow-bladers, from around the region are excited to break out their gear. This is also when those of us not satiated by the profound winter in the Northern Hemisphere look at scoring a second helping. The time is now to start searching for good flight itineraries and tour packages for your shot at South American ski glory. We at Patagonia Ski Tours are excited to be heading down for our 11th winter of sharing the magic of these incredible places with our clients.
With more storms in the forecast, ticket prices are going up and seats are filling up on trips across the continent. Check out the list of posted opening dates from various resorts. (Subject to change without notice of course; it is South America after all)
Stop wasting away your summers sitting on the porch drooling over Instagram photos. Give us a call today and let us make your dreams a reality. We have something for every budget and our skilled team of guides and logistics superheros will help you plan the perfect trip. Stay tuned to our blog for more travel tips and information as the season progresses. ¡Chau!
It’s snowing in Patagonia! Residents of Neuquen, Rio Negro, and Chubut were greeted with a beautiful blanket of white this morning. Today marks the first significant, widespread snowfall of the 2017 winter for the Northern Patagonian region of Argentina. In the 11 years we have been operating in the area, this has got to be the earliest start to winter that we have ever seen! Vamos todavia!
Our Signature Tours are scheduled to begin in August, so that leaves plenty of time for the snowpack to stack up deep and strong. We also run several Backcountry Skiing programs from July through September, including guided ski touring, backcountry hut trips, and mechanized skiing options.
Here are some photos of the recent snowfall from a few of the places we ski around the region:
We are thrilled and honored to be featured in the latest issue of Ascent Backcountry Snow Journal, Late Winter 2017. For those who are not yet familiar with this publication, Ascent is a magazine that is published three times a year by Utah Adventure Journal in Park City, Utah. Since its inception in 2015, Ascent Backcountry Snow Journal has been delivering the most fun and interesting ski stories and trip reports from around the globe, for skiers by skiers (and snowboarders). For more information, visit their website: http://ascentbackcountry.com/, or follow them on social media.
Patagonia Ski Tours Lead Guide, Sean Zimmerman-Wall, is also an award-winning photojournalist, currently writing for several publications. His latest published work is a story of one of the greatest days of skiing we have had so far in the wilds of Patagonia. The title of the article is ‘Domo Arigato, A Skier’s Journey to Mallin Alto’. No, they don’t speak Japanese in Argentina; domo means ‘dome’ in Spanish, as in the backcountry dome shelters where we spent each night. Aside from some beautiful powder skiing images, the author’s colorful writing style makes for a great read.
We have been taking guests to ski and snowboard out at Mallin Alto for the past three seasons, and it is one of our favorite places in the entire world. Located in a pristine mountain setting in the remote Andes Mountains of Patagonia, Mallin Alto is the brainchild of our good friend, Kao, and his cousin, Lucio. The two of them have been running a successful hunting operation on their old family ranch for about a decade. After the success of their first dome shelter for hunting, Kao had the idea to build a domo up in the alpine, to be used as a winter shelter for backcountry snowmobiling, skiing, and snowboarding.
Not only are the dome shelters cool, but they are comfortable too! The team at Mallin Alto has hauled up a cast iron stove for cooking, a few wood stoves for heat, and a wood-burning water heater for hot showers. They have also built a wood-fired hot tub for soothing sore muscles after a big day in the mountains, sipping cocktails under the stars. With all the creature comforts one could ever hope for in a remote location like this, we have dubbed it ‘winter glamping’. Their crew consists of IFMGA/UIAGM-certified ski guides, experienced snowmobile operators, charming hut keepers, and even a gourmet chef.
This particular adventure to Mallin Alto was one for the ages. On a stormy evening in Bariloche, we made the journey up dirt roads, through rough terrain and river crossings, until we reached the point where wheeled vehicles could no longer continue. Snowmobiles took us the rest of the distance, hauling our equipment on a gear trailer. After reaching the domos, we enjoyed hot food and cold drink as the storm raged on. By the time we awoke the following morning, over a meter of snow had fallen, and we were in the prime location to capitalize on our good fortune. The days that followed provided us with the best powder skiing we have ever had in South America. We skied 11 runs a day for three days straight, all in the blissful solitude of our own private mountain playground. By the end of the trip, we had opened up a few new zones and discovered some new terrain to explore on our next visit.
To read the full article, you’ll have to pick up a copy for yourself. Look for Ascent Backcountry Snow Journal at your local mountain shop, or visit their website to subscribe.
Mallin Alto is based near the town of San Carlos de Bariloche, Argentina, and ski trips run from July through September. We offer a la carte programs that can be added to any of our ski tours, or as a stand-alone trip. One of our most popular offerings is the Andean Backcountry Experience, featuring 3 days/2 nights at Baguales Snowcat Skiing & Ski Touring and 3 days/2 nights at Mallin Alto Snowmobiling & Ski Touring. Summer season trips are available as well: hunting, fishing, horseback riding, mountain biking, hiking, or just enjoying the peace and quiet. Visit our Reservations page to book your own adventure, or Contact Us for more information.
We are pleased to announce the release of our latest video, a highlight reel featuring some of our adventures from the 2016 ski season in Argentina. We traveled far and wide, from the remote Patagonian steppe, through the lush lake district, and up into the remote northern volcano region, in search of the best skiing and the most fun adventures on the South American continent.
Watch in HD and crank up the volume for the full experience. Enjoy!
The 2016 South American ski season is underway and all resorts are open and reporting a 50-80cm base on the upper mountain. It all started when a massive Pacific storm slammed the Andes in early June and piled up over 9 feet (3 meters) of snow at most resorts. This allowed many resorts to open a full month earlier than 2015! Additional snowfall this July has added significant accumulations and ski conditions have been excellent. We offer full-service guided ski tours in and around all of the greatest ski destinations in Argentina and Chile and have seats available for upcoming trips. Check out these photos of some of the action:
Below you will find a listing of all major ski resort opening dates in Argentina & Chile,along with status, current conditions (parte diario), and where each resort is included in our tour options. We hope to see you this summer (winter) in Argentina or Chile! Visit our Reservations page or Contact Us to book your trip today! We will be updating opening dates for the remaining resorts as soon as they become available.
As we reported in our previous post, the annual Santa Rosa storm is set to impact the Andes Mountains of Patagonia, Argentina this week, primarily from the evening of Thursday, August 27th, until the evening of Sunday, August 30th. The latest GFS model weather forecast analysis is predicting a total of 88 mm (~3.5 inches) of water during this 72-hour storm period. At an average of 10% density, that could translate to three feet of snow in three days!
We plan to capitalize on this massive storm, nailing it at its peak ripeness and in the best way possible. The Santa Rosa usually shuts down the ski areas for a couple days, so that’s not really an option. Plus, the heightened levels of anxiety typically associated with a powder frenzy at an Argentine ski resort tend to diminish the experience a bit. We have just put together what we are calling the Santa Rosa Ski Special, a quick-hitter version of our Andean Backcountry Experience, based on the exact weather window for getting prime conditions in the most desirable backcountry ski terrain in the region of Northern Patagonia.
Proposed Dates: August 30 – September 3, 2015 (5 days/4 nights)
August 30: Late afternoon/evening arrival at Bariloche Airport (BRC), private car transfer to lakefront lodging in Bariloche, Welcome Dinner, night in Bariloche August 31: Early morning transfer to Baguales Mountain Reserve for a full day of snowcat skiing in the wilds of Patagonia, aprés ski festivities at the lodge, followed by haute cuisine and a night in the luxurious Refugio La Mesada. September 1: Another full day of snowcat skiing at Baguales, aprés ski festivities at the lodge, then transfer back to lakefront lodging in Bariloche, dinner and night in Bariloche September 2: Early morning transfer to Mallin Alto for a full day of snowmobile ski touring (motoskiing) in the Andean wilderness, aprés ski festivities on the deck, then a gourmet dinner and a night in the backcountry dome shelter, ‘el domo’ September 3: Another full day of motoskiing at Mallin Alto, aprés ski festivities on the deck, then transfer to the Bariloche Airport (BRC) to catch a flight back to Buenos Aires
All local ground transportation, including Bariloche airport transfers
2 nights lakefront lodging in Bariloche (double occupancy)
2 days/1 night snowcat skiing at Baguales Mountain Reserve (private double room)
2 days/1 nights motoskiing at Mallin Alto (backcountry dome accommodations)
All meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner)
$4,195 USD per person (tax included)
Contact us today to take advantage of this unique opportunity to get best days of the 2015 South American ski season!