Ski Arpa: A Chilean Ski Adventure
If you want to skip the crowds and rip into some of the purest bottomless powder in Chile, you'll want to check out Ski Arpa. The tiny resort consists of the founder Toni Sponar, his son Anton and two guides who will personally take you over 4,000 acres of untracked terrain and adrenaline-pumping steeps in two Pisten Bully Snowcats. Sponar is in his late 70s but still tears it up better than most. He manages to feed his snow addiction by traveling to Aspen for the winter, and coming back down to Chile for the summer. In fact, he has done so much skiing between Chile and Colorado, that he has only had one warm summer season since 1962.
Ski Arpa was born because of a lucky plane flight. Sponar used to fly from Chile to Argentina by way of the Andes for business, and he always looked out the window for good skiing, but he never found any until one day the plane had to reroute because of a storm. Everywhere was bare except for one area that was lush with fresh snow. He ran up to the cockpit (as you could in those days) and asked the location. He went back, bought the land and created Ski Arpa. Sponar has been running it ever since.
While at Ski Arpa our team spent time boot packing, traversing and of course skiing all the great terrain Arpa offers. The secluded resort provided a perfect gear testing venue, as it is extremely exposed and has dramatically variable weather. We had our windiest and coldest day of the trip at Ski Arpa. Our team camped in their bunkhouse, recently constructed to allow guests to spend the night in the secluded rustic resort. The bunkhouse was fit with a wood burning heater, but lacks hot water and electricity. Who needs those luxuries anyway? It was the perfect opportunity to test the gear in the environment it was made for.
To get the inside scoop on the gear we abused, be sure to check out our Adrenaline gear reviews.
Ski Arpa is only 108 km away from Santiago, so it makes a great day trip, which is good if you're looking for luxurious accommodations, because you won't find them here. The resort only has a small bunkhouse, and the closest hotel is in the town of Los Andes about an hour away. With the right gear, you will stay perfectly warm and have a great time hanging out and swapping stories during the freezing cold Chilean night. This may be an experience for the hardened adventurer, but it's not one that you want to miss.
Photos From Ski Arpa:
Through the Adrenaline In The Andes program, Active Junky's gear test team raised $1699.62 for Protect Our Winters' Coal Kills Snow initiative. With a commitment to donate $10 for every 1,000 vertical feet tracked by the team, the team logged a total of 169,962 vertical feet throughout the week.
>> Learn about Protect Our Winters