Chile July 2019
take the bus to Valle Nevado for the day, great backcountry
or take the Heli from the top of W hotel and go heli skiing
Portillo is another option but a little further away. it's one of the most beautiful resorts that i have ever been to. The Super-C couloir is EPIC!
I'd bring a split. I never made it to Valle Nevado but had some friends there and they loved it. La Parva is right there too, and I think they have cat skiing. Farellones is the little town there (check out BASE CAMP Farellones) on facebook.
Portillo is amazing, its just kinda hard to stay there and figure out the packages- and its expensive. the last day there- we never paid for tickets and rode all day without being hassled, haha, but things may be different now.
Oops - missed this thread.
In case of use to anyone else:
Valle Nevado is good - lots of terrain, not busy, reasonable snow - but expensive. Lift pass was comparable to EU/US. At least when I was there (2016), you could only buy day passes and there were no discounts for 5 days, 10 days etc. The bus journey from the city to the resort quickly gets boring if you're there for an extended period but staying at the resort is pricey and you have limited options for dining, so that's the trade-off. Definitely some backcountry accessible from the resort, but I didn't do any while there so can't tell you where to go for avy forecasts.
Heli-skiing in Chile is very expensive - just not that many machines in South America. I think it was ~US$2000/day which is ~3x the price of New Zealand, so if you're intent on going heli-boarding in the Southern Hemisphere, you might want to consider NZ. There's also cat skiing/boarding at Ski Arpa (webpage).
If you're in Santiago, I recommend checking out El Colorado and La Parva. I think El Colorado is Manuel Diaz's home resort.
Portillo is indeed beautiful. Resort itself is pretty small and you could probably ride everything in a day. Still, it was a lot of fun, and there's plenty of backcountry accessible from the resort (IIRC there's a path around the lake which takes you to some of it). Crappy iPhone photos below.
I didn't go south to ride but if/when I go back, that would be what I'd choose. There are several resorts and many companies offering guided touring on the volcanoes.
when I went Heli Skiing at Portillo- it wasnt insanely expensive- I walked into the Mountain Managers office the day before a storm and asked if there were any spots available for the next day and he said there was and it would be $200 per line, we were going to make 3 lines and at the end of those, our group decided to do one more so it was a total of $800 and they dropped us off from the heli at Tio Bobs bar at. ahhh, that was a good day.
Thank you both!
So I went to Portillo and it was beautiful, glad we checked it out.
But there was very little snow when I was there, many of the runs were closed so we rode everything very quickly. I got into some untracked off the runs and even this wasn't good, pretty shallow + breakable crust. Hit a hidden rock at speed for a quality cartwheel. They were making artificial snow, and the snow on the runs was pretty hard. $200 per line sounds good to me, maybe next time, especially if conditions are better. Still great to be riding around with daughter and niece on a beautiful day.