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8 Reasons to Visit Valle Nevado

November 11, 2015

  • by
  • Drew Zieff

Active Junky’s made the pilgrimage down to Valle Nevado, Chile, every summer for the past 5 years, consistently called back by the resort’s terrain, amenities and hospitality.

This year, the Active Junky crew included four team members who had never been to Valle Nevado: speed flier, pro skier, freeski coach and former U.S. Ski Team member Reed Snyderman; big mountain skier, ski patroller and backcountry guide Eryka Thorley; world-traveling cinematographer Rhett Cutrell and yours truly, assistant editor/gear tester Drew Zieff. 

I speak for all of us when I say that we quickly fell in love with Valle Nevado. If you’ve always dreamed of a yearlong ski season, read on and consider booking the trip of a lifetime to Valle Nevado in the not-so-distant future.

8 Reasons Why You Should Visit Chile’s Valle Nevado:

1)  The Mountains

Looking up from the base of Valle Nevado, the Andes dominate the skyline like the teeth of an upturned saw blade. High above tree line, they’re barren, rocky and overwhelmingly colossal. Though the base of the resort is right around 10,000 feet, hanging glaciers rise in the distance like the icy ramparts of a castle, topping out at over 17,000 feet.

2)  The Skiing

Though you’d be hard-pressed to go tree skiing here, our crew of Valle Nevado newbies couldn’t get enough of the varied terrain, saying, “There’s everything you want to ski, from playful gullies and open groomers to tight couloirs and fun cliffs.”

3)  The Sunsets

Every evening, fatigued from skiing, riding and gear testing, we watched the sun plunge behind the Andes. As the pinkish flash of alpenglow struck west-facing aspects, the sky slowly morphed into striped patterns of purples and oranges like an ever-changing Rothko painting.

4)  The Food

For breakfast, most skiers head to the buffet in the Puerta del Sol Hotel. The buffet includes an omelet bar, fresh fruit and a surprisingly tasty (if not accurate) representation of good old American bacon. Catering to the resort’s international patrons, a row of silver coffee urns hold a bold blend that’s sure to jumpstart your day. Dinner, however, is when Valle Nevado truly shines. “Five stars” is an understatement. Diners pick from several multi-course restaurants – including French and Italian bistros – or head back to the hotel where the omelet bar is replaced by a cook-to-order meat and fish station, stocked with Chilean Sea Bass, fresh tuna steaks and choice filets—among other delicacies. Duck confit, tuna tartar, house-made pastas and classic Chilean dishes made our crew reconsider what ski resort dining can and should be.

5)  The Amenities

Valle Nevado visitors have access to a state-of-the-art gym and spa. Complimentary massages and yoga classes turned our rest day into a relaxing yet practical session to get prepped for another day on the mountain. Given the gym’s huge glass windows, weight training was a trip when blizzards eliminated visibility and we looked out on a swirling expanse of white and gray.

6)  The Novelty

Skiing in the summer. There’s something magical about it. For some, like team member Reed who was coming off back-to-back trips to Mt. Hood and New Zealand, skiing year round is just part of the gig. For others like myself, skiing in the summer usually means tracking down patches of corn snow in Colorado’s high country. Getting a powder day in August? That’s a dream come true.

7)  The People

At Valle Nevado, you meet all sorts of skiers: we crossed paths with pros getting after heli days in the surrounding backcountry, as well as passionate locals and recreationalists from all over the world. Conversations flow freely on the lifts, over beers after a day of skiing or during a dip in the gargantuan hot tub.

8)  The Backcountry

Most locals won’t be exploring the backcountry. You’re almost more likely to run into a professional film crew should you choose to push beyond the reach of the resort. That said, the snow remains untouched for days after a storm and there is serious couloir skiing a hike or a skin away from the upper mountain.

There were thousands of reasons to fall in love Valle Nevado. While we hope that winter hits North America with all of its powdery might, we’ll undoubtedly be heading back down to Valle Nevado this August to get another dose of mid-summer skiing. 

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