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Resort Scorecard

Snowsure


Beginners


Intermediate


Advanced


Snowboarders


Après Ski


Families


Base elevation: 1,540 metres

Top elevation: 2,505 metres

Number of lifts: 8

Number of runs: 32

Access: 250 miles south of Santiago. Fly to Concepción or train to Chillán and then road transfer up to Las Trances and the resort.

Okay, this gorgeous ski resort demands a bit more effort to get to, being just that bit further away from Santiago. However, it’s our favourite place to ski in Chile - it just has that special …  something. Perhaps it's because Nevados de Chillán is outrageously pretty, sitting as it does on the slopes of the Chillán volcano with the lower trails meandering through the tree line? Or maybe it’s because of the enthralling open tracts higher up, where you’ll find dozens of bowls, chutes and gullies? Then again, it could be the natural hot springs waiting to soothe tired muscles at the end of the day? Or is it because of the remarkable comfort provided by the hotels, where every wish and whim is considered?

The truth is, it’s all of the above and more. Nevados de Chillán really has the ‘extra’ factor for us, making the extra effort involved in getting here absolutely worth it.

‘Nevados de Chillán’ actually refers to three overlapping volcanoes, their slopes combining create some marvelous skiable terrain– the afore mentioned combination of high alpine slopes and lower tree sections. There is adventure to be found wherever you look here, with sweeping isolated off-piste runs around the perimeter of the resort leading to a snow-drenched summer golf course taking you back to the base.

Once off the slopes a huge part of the Nevados de Chillán experience are the natural outdoor thermal pools. The perfect post-ski remedy, then further enhanced by luxurious spas and wonderful food.  All told, this is a fantastic place to combine some pretty serious skiing adventures with similarly earnest relaxation. We like. A lot.

Skiing in Nevados de Chillán

Fact - Nevados de Chillán receives the most snowfall of all the South American resorts. Boom! And with absolute sincerity, we can assure you that the sheer variety of terrain will suit everyone from beginner to the expert. There is so much of it and for those willing to push boundries (literally) there are amazing hikes that will access incredible backcountry lines.

What we particularly like is the mix. You’ll find wide-open terrain with long groomed cruisers as well as alluring off-piste. The volcanic eruptions and rivers of lava have left behind some really interesting mounds, mini bowls, natural half pipes, steep pitches, and drop-offs. Throw in the tree skiing lower down and you’ve got it all! The trail map really does not do it justice – disregard it.

Okay, so we need to talk about lifts…..

They are terrible and the infrastructure in Nevados de Chillán desperately needs fresh investment. The resort is largely made up or tortuous poma lifts (which, on the positive front, tend stay open longer in windy conditions) and then painfully slow and old chair lifts. At least there are no queues - that would add insult to injury.

They’ve recently added a small terrain park and snowcat skiing is now available making it super easy to access the volcano summit. You’ll find the longest run in South America in Nevados de Chillán, the eight-mile Las Tres Marias. Then there is also the longest chair lift, the Don Otto. It takes almost half an hour to get to the top, but unfortunately this says more about the speed of the lift. The saving grace is that the views from all over the resort serve to leave you speechless.

The lower quarter of the mountain, well protected from the bad weather that can often blow through, has the best beginner’s terrain in Chile. Once confidence builds, the pistes which wind down to the hotels and bottom chair are easily negotiated. And hugely enjoyable. These lower areas are generally free from recklessly fast skiers and boarders, leaving you in peace to make your first turns.

You’ll be in your total element with the sheer variety of terrain at your disposal,  with great open spaces in which to play and plenty to tempt you off the sides of the trails. Nevados de Chillán is a fantastic resort for cruising or racing with your ski buddies and the super long Tres Marias trail is an absolute must – top to bottom on a constantly enthralling route. However, you’ll probably only end up doing it once per day, simply because the slow lift required to return you to the top can be too much to bear.

In Nevados de Chillán you’ll find yourself surrounded by beginners and intermediate skiers, but with only a few other experts around. Which is absolutely fine - fresh new tracks are there for the taking on the more interesting sections of the mountain. Seek and you’ll find incredibly enthralling and challenging terrain, with very steep but short pitches, deep bowls and heart-rate increasing gullies. You can also practice your tree skiing on the lower slopes, if snow conditions are just right.

With plenty of opportunity to find powder stashes in-bounds, it’s easy to forget that there also a whole world in the backcountry waiting to be discovered. It’s endless. However, you’ll check with patrol regarding the conditions and take the usual precautions and safety equipment. We insist.

There is also a cat skiing operation available, though this is weather dependent and we were simply not lucky enough when we visited. It’s keenly priced and the terrain it accesses looks promising.

Notwithstanding the over-use of surface lifts on the upper slopes, Nevados de Chillán is as exciting for the boarder as it is for the skier. The recent addition of a terrain park adds to the fun, but we’ll have to rely on recent reviewers to let you know how good it actually is. Not our scene. However, the natural terrain has enough thrills n’spills on offer to keep all-comers happy.

For young children there is Snow Garden, a safe and gentle area.  The Children’s Ski School uses the latest teaching techniques and games to introduce youngsters to skiing and to help them build their skills while having fun. Programs range from one-hour and half-day lessons, to full-day classes with a hearty lunch.

The Gran Hotel is all set for taking care of kids, which is fortunate considering that the restaurants are not particularly child friendly at dinnertime. The nursery opens from 9 o’clock in the morning and doesn’t close until 10 o’clock at night. It gets better – this childcare is courtesy of the hotel. They also offer a range of daily activities for older children.

For those staying up at the resort itself, then world-class spa treatments, soaking in hot springs, top-notch dining, or throwing shapes in the disco are all options available to you. Each hugely enjoyable, in its own way.The Shangri-La Restaurant at the Gran Hotel is considered outstanding by many and the meals here are included as part of the package. 'El Montanes' is another (fine) dining option, popular with well-heeled guests.

Down in Las Trancas there are a wide range of restaurants sprinkled throughout the village. You can get whatever you want, for however much you are willing to pay - it’s all very informal. Indeed, it’s more of a community down here and less of a ‘resort ‘. casino

Bars and pubs create a laid-back party vibe. Back up at the resort proper, The Gran Hotel has a saloon bar that spills out onto a large lounge where you’ll find lots of comfy couches and an enormous fireplace. Up on the slopes there is a brilliant little bar on one of the main runs leading back to the base – this became our regular stop-off each and every late afternoon. They’ll remember us, even if we can’t remember the name of the bar!

The lower quarter of the mountain, well protected from the bad weather that can often blow through, has the best beginner’s terrain in Chile. Once confidence builds, the pistes which wind down to the hotels and bottom chair are easily negotiated. And hugely enjoyable. These lower areas are generally free from recklessly fast skiers and boarders, leaving you in peace to make your first turns.

You’ll be in your total element with the sheer variety of terrain at your disposal,  with great open spaces in which to play and plenty to tempt you off the sides of the trails. Nevados de Chillán is a fantastic resort for cruising or racing with your ski buddies and the super long Tres Marias trail is an absolute must – top to bottom on a constantly enthralling route. However, you’ll probably only end up doing it once per day, simply because the slow lift required to return you to the top can be too much to bear.

In Nevados de Chillán you’ll find yourself surrounded by beginners and intermediate skiers, but with only a few other experts around. Which is absolutely fine - fresh new tracks are there for the taking on the more interesting sections of the mountain. Seek and you’ll find incredibly enthralling and challenging terrain, with very steep but short pitches, deep bowls and heart-rate increasing gullies. You can also practice your tree skiing on the lower slopes, if snow conditions are just right.

With plenty of opportunity to find powder stashes in-bounds, it’s easy to forget that there also a whole world in the backcountry waiting to be discovered. It’s endless. However, you’ll check with patrol regarding the conditions and take the usual precautions and safety equipment. We insist.

There is also a cat skiing operation available, though this is weather dependent and we were simply not lucky enough when we visited. It’s keenly priced and the terrain it accesses looks promising.

Notwithstanding the over-use of surface lifts on the upper slopes, Nevados de Chillán is as exciting for the boarder as it is for the skier. The recent addition of a terrain park adds to the fun, but we’ll have to rely on recent reviewers to let you know how good it actually is. Not our scene. However, the natural terrain has enough thrills n’spills on offer to keep all-comers happy.

For young children there is Snow Garden, a safe and gentle area.  The Children’s Ski School uses the latest teaching techniques and games to introduce youngsters to skiing and to help them build their skills while having fun. Programs range from one-hour and half-day lessons, to full-day classes with a hearty lunch.

The Gran Hotel is all set for taking care of kids, which is fortunate considering that the restaurants are not particularly child friendly at dinnertime. The nursery opens from 9 o’clock in the morning and doesn’t close until 10 o’clock at night. It gets better – this childcare is courtesy of the hotel. They also offer a range of daily activities for older children.

For those staying up at the resort itself, then world-class spa treatments, soaking in hot springs, top-notch dining, or throwing shapes in the disco are all options available to you. Each hugely enjoyable, in its own way.The Shangri-La Restaurant at the Gran Hotel is considered outstanding by many and the meals here are included as part of the package. 'El Montanes' is another (fine) dining option, popular with well-heeled guests.

Down in Las Trancas there are a wide range of restaurants sprinkled throughout the village. You can get whatever you want, for however much you are willing to pay - it’s all very informal. Indeed, it’s more of a community down here and less of a ‘resort ‘. casino

Bars and pubs create a laid-back party vibe. Back up at the resort proper, The Gran Hotel has a saloon bar that spills out onto a large lounge where you’ll find lots of comfy couches and an enormous fireplace. Up on the slopes there is a brilliant little bar on one of the main runs leading back to the base – this became our regular stop-off each and every late afternoon. They’ll remember us, even if we can’t remember the name of the bar!

Getting There

From Santiago three options present themselves. Because Nevados de Chillán is 250 miles south of the capital there’s a journey involved, so take your pick;

A six-hour road journey, taking you through the wine country, with the Andes Mountains shimmering in the background.

Alternatively, it's an equally scenic four-hour train journey from Santiago to Chillán and then a one-hour road transfer up to the resort. This wonderful road connects the city of Chillán with the small village of Las Trancas. From here a well-maintained dirt road access the resort base area.

Most expediently, you could fly the one-hour to Concepción and then it’s a three-hour road transfer. Chillán does actually have an airport, but flights are infrequent and rarely available for us to book.

Mix and match as you see fit – perhaps travelling one way in and another way back?

Resort Scorecard

Snowsure


Beginners


Intermediate


Advanced


Snowboarders


Après Ski


Families


Base elevation: 1,540 metres

Top elevation: 2,505 metres

Number of lifts: 8

Number of runs: 32

Access: 250 miles south of Santiago. Fly to Concepción or train to Chillán and then road transfer up to Las Trances and the resort.