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South American Winter Firing On All Cylinders, But There’s a Catch

South American ski resorts from Portillo to Patagonia are seeing one of the best starts in years. Fresh snow is hammering The Andes of Chile and Argentina with 4 to 5 feet of new snow being reported in several areas. Additional accumulation of up to 2 feet is in the forecast over the next week.


Buenos dias from Valle Nevado, Chile. 4 feet and rising.


Portillo, Chile looking to add to their already deep early winter base.

Locally, there is a huge buzz in the air regarding the upcoming ski season. While the snow continues to fall, building bases and shutting down mountain roads, an even larger road block stands in the way. COVID-19.

Will there even be a ski season this year in Chile and Argentina? 

Here is what we know as of Wednesday morning, June 24, 2020:

  • Both Chile's and Argentina's borders remain closed to tourists due to COVID-19
  • Flights to Argentina will not resume until at least September 1, 2020
  • Chile has extended their state of emergency until at least September 14 due to one of the world’s highest rates of per-capita infections
  • Both countries are under strict quarantine measures

Not looking good for international travelers. But what about the locals? Will they get to take advantage of empty slopes and less competition in the backcountry?

Generally on a good snow year like we are seeing in 2020, most ski areas would already be open. South America hosts over 2 dozen ski resorts. To date only 2 have "thrown in the towel"

Las Lenas and La Hoya. Both located in Argentina.

On Monday, Portillo, Chile announced they still hope to open, but their season has been indefinitely postponed:

Most other ski resorts are still working towards operating if given the green light by the local governments. Some resorts are located in national parks or reserves. All parks are currently closed in Chile. If parks and resorts are allowed to open, it will be unlike any ski season we have ever seen. To stay on top of the resort updates from Bariloche, Chillan and more, PowderQuest is busy making frequent updates on their blog.

"For the safety of our trip guests, PowderQuest Tours took the important decision in late April to cancel our 2020 guided season in the Andes due to the global Coronavirus pandemic. We are now focusing on our 2021 Japan ski tours and hoping things improve in South America so our local friends and travel vendors can salvage some sort of ski season, even if it means waiting until late winter, early spring." - David Owen, PowderQuest Founder

For now, all we can do is mind surf with the locals on social media and dream of being able to take advantage of all the snow falling south of the equator. Here are a few images we have collected from this week.

Farellones, Chile with 27.5 new inches in the village (Chile Nieve)


Las Lenas Argentina 4 1/2 feet this week. (Agus Silva)

Buried picnic table in La Parva, Chile

Mallin Alto backcountry 1 hour from Bariloche, Argentina

Cerro Bayo Resort could potentially open on weekends, but to locals only

Nevados de Chillan Chile

*Story Cover Photo courtesy of Dakine

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