The winter ski season in Chamonix starts on the 14th of November 2020.
From November 14th 2020 to December 4th 2020 : partial opening on weekends depending on snow conditions
From December 5th to December 18th 2020 : partial opening everyday depending on snow conditions
From December 19th 2020 to May 2nd 2021 : open everyday
Professional private Ski lessons in Chamonix & Megève ski areas from December until end of April. Learn from the Swiss Ex-world cup ski racer Ella Alpiger and her team.
Chamonix ski lessons
Everything about Chamonix ski resort is big. In the shadow of Mont Blanc, the deep valley has more skiable slopes than seems reasonable. With several ski areas distributed across the huge mountain ranges to north and south, a thriving town in the centre and smaller, charming mountain villages in the valley, there’s something for everyone.
Megève ski lessons
With the Mont Blanc as its backdrop, Megève ski area is in a lovely sunny setting and the village has a beautifully preserved, partly medieval centre. It’s the capital of the mountain way of life, an authentic village in the Savoy Alps that is covered by a carpet of snow every winter.
Teaching for beginners and experts
Many different slopes in all different colors and challenging Offpiste runs are waiting for you to be discovered. Beginners and Experts are welcome to join the lessons!
We will analyze your skiing on video cameras. Fast technical progress and more enjoyable ski days are the result of that.
Prices for private ski lessons in Chamonix valley:
Daily Ski and Telemark lessons, Off – piste days and Ski touring intro courses:
Half day (3hrs): 220.00€
09:00-12:00 / 13:00 – 16:00
All day (7hrs): 400.00€
09:00 – 16:00 (with 1 hour lunch break)
Included in the price: Teaching, Video of your progress, pick up at your Hotel
Ski areas within the Chamonix Valley
The Chamonix Valley offers 4 different, big ski areas. There is a multitude of slopes for all levels, each ski area having its own merit. Sometimes it’s not easy to choose where to go. Let us help you with this decision.
Brévent – Flégère the ski area out of Chamonix town
A south-facing ski area for skiers of every level, with superb gullies, on the edge of the nature reserve Aiguilles Rouges. An unrivalled panorama of the ‘roof’ of Europe and its surrounding summits. Access Brévent from the center of Chamonix or Flégère from Chamonix Les Praz (3km from Chamonix). At the bottom of the Brévent ski area there is a beginners area: the Savoy which can be accessed on foot from the resort center.
Grand Montets out of Argentière
The north facing ski area for expert skiers. Grand Montets ski area offers long, steep runs and a great off piste ski bowl. It’s the spot after a snow storm and for skiers that like moguls.
Balme – Vallorcine out of Le Tour or Vallorcine
The perfect family ski where to enjoy wide open gentle slopes overlooking the entire Chamonix Valley. There is some fantastic tree-skiing and tree-lined pistes on the Vallorcine ski bordering with Switzerland. In Le Tour at the bottom of the ski area there is La Vormaine, a very good beginner area.
Great for families and intermediate skiers. The ski area of Les Houches / Saint Gervais extends from an altitude of 950m to 1900m. From the summit one has a spectacular 360° view of the Mont-Blanc massive. And with 55 km of slopes meandering through the forests, you will discover the real pleasures of skiing. With the Kandahar slope Les Houches also offers a black slope where Men’s World Cup races are hold.
Unlimited skiing in and around Chamonix
With the Chamonix Unlimited Skipass (more than 3 days) we can also enjoy skiing in Courmayeur (ITA) 15 Min., Verbier (CH) 40 Min. and Evasion Mont Blanc (Megève, St.Gervais, Les Contamines) (FR) 20 Min. by car from Chamonix.
Why not try Ski touring?
Chamonix also offers great ski touring options not only for Experts.
Let us introduce you to our favourite sport with a Ski touring Intro. Learn all about safety, snow and technique with an UIAGM Mountain Guide. Bring your skiing to the next level!
Sign in for our Off piste, powder courses
Explore the snow on the other side of the groomed run! If you have mastered the pistes and want to learn how to ski all trains off piste, come and sign up for our Off piste courses. We will teach you on all different slopes and terrains. Let’s train to get you fit to take a ski trip down the Valle Blanche!
We proudly ski with K2 Skis, they offer a great range of skis and boots for all different kind of availabilities and snow conditions. Not sure which material to buy or rent? We are happy to recommend the perfect ski for you.
There are plenty of shops in Chamonix that rent high quality skiing equipment.
Accommodation for ski lessons in Chamonix
Do you want to sleep in down town Chamonix or rather a bit outside in the quite or maybe ski in and ski out? Chamonix has it all, let us find the perfect place for you!
Chamonix skiing, what it’s all about
A must by all ski enthusiasts! The Chamonix Valley is consistently rated as one of the top ten ski areas in the world. The legendary skiing caters for every taste and ability. 90% of the ski area is above 2000m with an excellent snow record and a long season from December to May. It is the home of the legendary 23 kilometre Vallee Blanche and the Kandahar World Cup downhill runs. The lift pass which, covers 750km of groomed skiing includes the elegant resort of Courmayeur in Italy, Verbier in Switzerland, and Evasion Mont Blanc ski area. The Chamonix Valley is approximately 20 kilometres long with the Aiguilles Rouges mountain range on the north side, and the Mont-Blanc mountain range on the south side.
Chamonix is an ancient mountain town with a stylish atmosphere and a blend of French charm, varied skiing and modern facilities that few other alpine resorts can match. Our guests return time after time and always discover something new.
The town of Chamonix with its pedestrianised cobbled streets and squares, beautiful buildings has an excellent choice of quality shops, cafes, bars, restaurants, and a Saturday market that should not be missed. Chamonix has an attractive, bustling old town centre. The smaller, quieter ski villages of Argentiere, Les Houches and Vallorcine offer a different style of resort life.
Aiguille du Midi, 3842m
The top station of the Aiguille du Midi cablecar has a spectacular panorama of Chamonix, the Mont Blanc and the Mer De Glace glacier. It’s the access point to high elevation glacier skiing the world famous Vallée Blanche. Majestic Mont-Blanc, one of the world’s natural wonders dominates the area.
How skiing came to France; did you know?
Skiing had come to Italy via Switzerland since about 1895. The natural thing for France would have been to copy the neighboring Italians. They went to the source instead, they wanted a missionary from Norway and in November 1902 one such providentially dropped in. A junior Norwegian army lieutenant called Herman Schultz that wanted to visit France as a ski instructor in order to get out into the wider world an learn French. Later two more officers where sent to France and they started a ski school to teach the French soldiers. Those soldiers showed a legendary marching ability and could accomplish to march up to 50 or 60 km a day on skis without really being worn out. They sometimes started at 4a.m. and didn’t return until 8p.m.
The ski school was so exhausting, both for teachers and the taught, that it only ran from Monday to Thursday, with the rest of the week free; for the French soldiery at any rate. On Friday and Saturday, the Norwegians were expected to teach the officers and on Sundays, their wives. The Colonel’s lady was particularly keen. The two instructors would support her on each side and she was wearing a hat and veil! …”Suddenly her skis broke trough the crust, and we ran on, but in confusion. It was not a dignified regimental commander’s wife who got her feet, covered in blood, with hat awry and tattered veil. Afternoon tea with her was cancelled. We didn’t see her for 14 days.”
Dates for Chamonix ski touring : Mid. November – May
Would you like to discover the Chamonix ski touring or explore some new routes with us?
Patagoniatiptop’s UIAGM qualified mountain guides will make sure to find the best snow conditions in the area for your Chamonix ski touring weekend. There are plenty of routes to choose from to suit all possibilities!
Embark on a great adventure in the French Alps. It’s a sporty and original way to explore these snow-covered, wild and wonderful landscapes. These 2-day, weekend programs are designed to make the most of the region and get to know the Alps in depth, while improving your skiing skills.
It’s the perfect opportunity to take a break from your busy daily life and get some fresh air in this natural environment. Get lots of advice and tips to improve your ski touring level. The guide will adapt the tour to your pace and level so you can enjoy and admire the breathtaking landscapes. There are many different routes, allowing mountain lovers of any level to participate in this activity.
Please contact us for groups with more than 4 skiers. Accommodation, ski pass and meals are not included. Let us know if we can organize the perfect accommodation for you.
Activity requirements for Chamonix ski touring
This activity requires a regular physical activity. You can be a beginner in ski touring but you must be a good skier, and comfortable on all kind of slopes.
How to get to Chamonix
Geneva (GVA) is the closest air port to fly in. From there you can take a minibus and will be in Chamonix in a bit more than an hour. We’re happy to help you organise your transfer from Geneva into Chamonix.
(Please ask us for private dates, also for mixed groups)
3 days ski teaching and skitouring in the Chamonix valley
3 nights at a traditional Chalet in Vallorcine
Learn all about ski touring and back country skiing
Ski touring basics, including gear usage, uphill techniques, pacing, layering, and route selection
Avalanche awareness including terrain management and basic companion rescue strategies
Learn off piste skiing and ski touring with us!
Three days of world-class skiing with top, women-specific instructions from Ex-World Cup ski racer and certified ski instructor Ella Alpiger. This Women’s ski touring camp features the latest ski and ski-touring teaching techniques, avalanche safety informations and some hidden Off-piste runs.
“It’s all about learning off piste skiing technique, backcountry skills, mountain safety, and most importantly, having fun in the outdoors!”
We will base out of the beautiful village of Vallorcine for 3 days of adventure skiing. Our goal is to ski the best hidden places for the given conditions, and provide you with coaching and instruction in big mountain skiing.
“It’s a unique ski program that makes it easier, faster and more fun to learn.”
Women’s ski touring camp Itinerary
We welcome you at the Chalet in Vallorcine for a first get together. Come enjoy a typical Savoyard dinner with some fine wine from the chalet owners vinery. Night at Chalet in Valloricne
Day 1: Off piste skiing work shop and avalanche rescuing
Off piste work shop in the ski area of Vallorcine / Balme which lies very near the Chalet. We ski where we find the nicest snow. Get tips on your skiing skills and technique to help you improve in a variety of ski conditions and terrain. Work on technique and mental preparedness that will improve your skiing in the backcountry, in steeps, trees, narrow chutes and crud. Learn how to search with your avalanche transceiver in the afternoon. An important skill you have to know! Night and dinner at the Chalet in Vallorcine.
Day 2: Ski touring intro Les Marecottes, Switzerland
A short train ride brings us to our Offpiste work shop in the morning in the quiet ski area of Les Marecottes. Les Marecottes is a secret spot for powder lovers and offers also some great tree skiing just over the boarder in Switzerland. Practice the tips you have learned yesterday. Now we are ready to bring our back country skiing to the next level. We start with a short ski tour in the afternoon where you learn all about ascending with skins on your skis, ski touring itineraries and snow safety information. Night and dinner at the Chalet in Vallorcine, enjoy a glas of wine at the fire place and check out today’s skiing videos.
Day 3: Ski tour
With a picknick and all necessary things in our backpack we skin up into the mountains. We use and try all our new learned skills and enjoy a day in the peaceful mountains. The course finishes at 3pm in Vallorcine.
Changes to the itinerary:
The programme is given as an indication only. Changes and adaptation may be made to suit current technical criteria, safety requirements and weather conditions.
What you will learn in this Women’s ski touring camp:
This course makes it possible for intermediate and advanced skiers to move to the next level of expertise in the shortest time possible. Get confident with the avalanche safety skills and make your first ski touring experiences. All in a group session designed to foster camaraderie. A truly elevated experience. Do you already have some ski touring experience? This course will still help you to improve and make sure,
If you feel confident on red and black slopes and have some off-piste experience, you’re ready to join this camp. Please contact us if you’re not sure about your level.
The last or first village in the Chamonix valley, Vallorcine is a peaceful mountain village. Hidden behind the col des Montets, at the foot of the Aiguilles Rouges, La vallée des Ours (the valley of bears) has retained all the charm of a traditional mountain village. Vallorcine is made up of several hamlets on the foothills of the surrounding mountains stretching to the Swiss border. Here, the mountains never cease to inspire your curiosity and sense of adventure.
How to get to Vallorcine:
We can organize a transfers to and from Geneva airport with guaranteed flexibility to match your flight times allowing you to fly from your local airport at a time that suits you. If you’re traveling by train from Switzerland, you can reach Vallorcine via Martigny. We will pick you up at the train station.
We’ll stay in a traditional chalet in a very quiet and peaceful location.
This comfortable, traditional chalet offers breathtaking views of the mountains. Guests can relax in front of the fireplace with a glass of wine or enjoy the cozy, tastefully furnished rooms and common spaces.
Champagne and canapés upon arrival at the chalet
Typical Savoyard dinners – including special menus for those with dietary needs, prepared by an experienced chef
Excellent quality complimentary wine
Full breakfast every morning: hot and cold option including eggs, bacon, fresh bread, pastries, fruit platter and cereals
Afternoon tea – home baked cakes, fresh bread and jams with tea and coffee
(*Min. 3 skiers: accommodation/half board, ski pass and transport not included in the skiing only program)
Included: Professional teaching and organisation, 2 ski passes in Vallorcine/Balme and Les Marecottes, 3 nights in a traditional Chalet with half board in a privat double room, lots of information about ski touring and avalanche rescuing, mental training tips, train ride to Les Marecottes and back, entrance avalanche rescue park
Not included: Transportation to and back from Vallorcine, lunches, drinks, personal insurance, personal equipment (let us know if you need ski touring and avalanche safety equipment, it can be rented).
What material should you choose for our women’s ski touring camp?
We proudly ski on K2 Skis! They offer great backcountry skiing equipment especially for Women! Let us know if we can recommend a ski for you.
March – May, please choose your date for privat tours
From the French to the Swiss historical alpine capital
This seven day Ski tour on glaciers for the most part, offers exceptional beauty of the landscapes. It traverses the crest of the Western Alps and passes through some of the most stunning mountain scenery in Europe. We start in Chamonix, at the foot of Mont Blanc and ski across the Wallis glaciers of Switzerland. The tour ends with a unique ski descent on the foot of the Matterhorn down to Zermatt.
This spectacular tour can be done in many different ways. Adding more peaks or changing tour route with other huts. Please contact us for more informations.
2 Skiers: 3’234.00€ per Skier
4 Skiers: 2’078.00€ per Skier
6 Skiers: 1’647.00€ per Skier
Included in the price: Organisation, 7 days IFMGA mountain guiding, Private Transport Champex – Verbier on Day 2, 6 nights at huts with half board Not included in the price: Lunch & Drinks, Lift tickets, personal insurance*, personal equipment
*We strongly recommend the purchase of a cancellation, accident, travel insurance.
This trip is for experienced ski tourers who have already done at least one hut-to-hut tour or a multi-day ski tour. You should be able to skin up to 5 hours with up to 1100m vertical gain per day, at a good steady pace. Efficiency in your skinning technique and confident moving over a steep and exposed terrain should be no problem. You are expected to be comfortable and safe doing kick turns on slopes of over 35 degrees. Are you an excellent off piste skier, confident and efficient in skiing in all snow conditions without losing control over your skis? Skiing on slopes of 40 degrees is not a problem of you? You should be physically fit, ready to hike and ski for up to 8 hours per day without being too tired the next day. You have to be able to move reasonably fast (climb 400m/h).
Haute Route Mont Blanc Extension
Why not benefit from your fitness and acclimatization and climb Mont Blanc with skis following your completion of the Haute Route? Take a look at our program!
Dates: March until beginning of June Ski tour Mont Blanc:
“A challenging dream came true for me! I always wanted to ski that mountain and my mountain guide was fabulous!”
Ski touring up to the summit of Mont Blanc can be done from end of march until may and is a great spring 2-day adventure!
Itinerary Ski tour Mont Blanc:
Day 1 : Chamonix – Grand Mulets hut 3051m Afternoon ride with the first part of the Aiguille du Midi – cablecar up to Plan de l’Aiguille (2310m). Skitour up to the Grand Mulets hut. + 800m, Night at Grand Mulets hut (3051m)
Day 2 : Grand Mulets Hut – Summit – Chamonix We start early today with a technical ascent of the north face of Dôme du Goûter cramponning, slopes up to 40º to reach the normal route, than continuing over to Bivouac Vallot to the great summit of Mont Blanc (4810m). Ski down to Plan d’Aiguille or Chamonix. + 1700m / – 2600m or -3500m
1’300.00€ / Ratio 1:1 (Included in the price: Organisation, IFMGA-mountain guide) (Not included: Overnight stay at mountain hut, Lift ticket, Food & drinks, Guide expenses, personal insurance)
This programme is meant as a guide only. Depending on the conditions in the mountains and the abilities of the guest, your mountain guide may alter the route.
Personal Requirements to Ski tour Mont Blanc:
Very good physical fitness, expert skiing skills and to be well acclimatized to altitude are needed to do this tour. If you have a solid experience in ice climbing and ski touring, you’re ready to let the dream come true.
Grands Mulets Hut 3051m
The Grands Mulets hut is placed on a rocky island surrounded by glaciers in a real alpine environment. It’s an exceptional place and perfectly situated for our Skitour to Mont Blanc.
How it all began, the Mont Blanc first ascent:
1786: The Frenchmen Michael Gabriel Packard and Jacques Palma were the first to reach the top of Mont Blanc.
After hundreds of failed attempts by dozens of aspiring mountaineers, Paccard and Balmat made history when they became the first climbers to reach the summit of Mont Blanc, the highest mountain in the Alps. The mountain rises 4810m/15’711feet above sea level and is ranked No. 11 in the world in topographic prominence. The two Chamonix local ascended the summit on August 8th, starting the climb from the Chamonix valley.
The accomplishment was, and still is, considered historic. Eric Shipton, a British Himalayan mountaineer, described the feat, writing in his book Mountain Conquest:
“Theirs was an astounding achievement of courage and determination, one of the greatest in the annals of mountaineering. It was accomplished by men who were not only on unexplored ground but on a route that all the guides believed to be impossible.”
The first female climber
1808: The former maidservant Marie Paradis, in 1808 became the first woman to climb Mont Blanc, joined by guide Jacques Balmat. For Paradis it was not an easy ascent. She was in such poor condition by the time the climbing party reached the summit that she actually had difficulty speaking and, reportedly, could not see the view from the peak. Her self designed outfit that she was wearing weighed just over 14 pounds.
7-14 days programs available. Tailor made for you.
When the days start to get shorter in the northern hemisphere, spring is slowly waking up in Patagonia. For the ski touring fans this means corn and sometimes powder snow skiing under the south american sun. Some experts speak about the best spring skiing in the world.
All our ski touring goals between Bariloche and Temuco are between 2000 and 3000 meters high and no long acclimatization is necessary.
Our skiing adventure starts in Bariloche Argentina or in Temuco Chile airport and ends in either of both, depending on the itinerary you choose. We can offer a round trip or also a point to point trip. Bariloche is situated in the northern part of Argentina’s Patagonia in the Nahuel Huapi National Park. There are great ski touring options around the so called “Switzerland of south America” in the Patagonian Lake District. The incredible views down to the huge lakes and rainforests are stunning.
After the amazing volcano-skiing in Chiles “small south” where we ski volcanos like Casablanca, Osorno and Villarica we cross the boarder into Argentinas lake basin.
We choose those volcanos and mountains with the best conditions at the moment we are there. (There are about 10 volcanos to choose from).
To relax between the tours, we take you to some of the worlds best hot springs in hidden valleys and eat great seafood as well as Argentine beef. Come join us on this exotic skiing adventure!
At a glance:
14 days / 13 nights in Chile & Argentina
3 hot springs
Day to day itinerary, a program option that we like:
Day 1: Meet at Temuco airport – drive to Malalcahuello Your mountain guide picks you up at the airport and drives you to the foot of the volcano Lonquimay.
Night in Hotel Malalcahuello
Day 2: Skitour volcano Lonquimay 2865m Our first volcano, Lonquimay is surrounded by very old Araucaria trees and is perfect for a start into the Volcano-tour.
Night in Hotel in Malalcahuello
Day 3: Skitour volcano Llaima 3125m Llaima is one of the biggest volcanos in this area and stands in the Conguillio National park. It’s name means “the reawakened” in Mapuche language, the language of the local people.
Night in Hotel Malalcahuello
Day 4: Travel to Pucon and hot springs „Los Pozones“ We use this day to relax and reload our batteries. The Pozones hot springs is the perfect spot to relax and enjoy nature. Pucon is one of Chiles favorite outdoor destination, a small vibrant town on the foot of Villarica vulcano. We spend the evening and night here.
Night in Hotel in Pucon
Day 5: Skitour volcano Villarica 2847m A short drive up into the Villarica national park. Today we will climb the 2847m high volcano Villarica. The long ascend is very much worth it: a view in to the bubbling Magma in the crater and a great downhill run on the slopes up to 35° back down to the car.
Night in Hotel Pucon
Hidden hot springs and more volcanos
Day 6: Hidden Hot Springs in the woods – Huilo Huilo Natural Reserve A magical relax day! This natural hot springs have an idyllic setting between the mountains. There are several pools with varying temperature for personal selection. The setting is very natural and quiet. After soaking our muscles we continue the drive into the Huilo Huilo natural reserve where we can discover the Valdivian rainforest.
Night in Hotel in the Huilo Huilo Nature Reserve
Day 7: Skitour volcano Choshuenco 2300m, travel south to Llanquihue lake The Mocho-Choshuenco volcano lies directly behind our Hotel, we cross the Huilo Huilo river with it’s clear blue water and skin up trough the rain forest to the top of this twin volcano.
After the tour we drive down south into Chiles Lake District and to the beautiful Llanquihue.
Night in Hotel in Puerto Varas
Day 8: Skitour volcano Osorno 2650m – Antillanca hot springs Maybe the most perfect conical shaped volcano on the tour. We reach it after a short drive around Llanquihue lake, Chiles biggest sweet water lake. From the top we will be able to overlook the whole lake basin and all the way to the Fjords near Puerto Montt. A short drive brings us to Antillanca and it’s hot springs near the Argentine boarder.
Night in Hotel in Antillanca
Volcanos Casablanca and Puyehue
Day 9: Volcano Casablanca 2050m Casablanca or the whit house is our last volcano in Chile. Easy to reach from the Antillanca ski area.
In the afternoon we drive over the Samore pass and the boarder line into Argentina down to the Nahuel Heap National Park
Night in Hotel in Puyehue
Day 10: Refugio Puyehue, 1450m We walk up to Refugio Puyehue trough thick Valdivian rainforest.
Night at Refugio Puyehue
Day 11: Volcano Puyehue, 2240m Skitour up to Volcano Puyehue where we’ll be able to overlook the huge crater. Ski back down.
Night in Hotel in Puyehue
Day 12: Travel day to Bariloche, Argentina We drive over the boarder into Argentina today and enjoy a relaxing afternoon in Bariloche.
Night in Bariloche
Day 13: Skitour Refugio Meiling, 2000m We hike up to Refugio Meiling from the hamlet of Pampa Linda. It takes a 1.5hr drive from Bariloche trough the Nahuel Huapi National Park and along the pale blue Gutierrez and Mascardi lakes. We first hike trough a forest and skin up reaching the hut at the foot of the glacier.
Night at Refugio Meiling, 2000m
Day 14: Skitour Cerro Tronador 3200m, Back to Bariloche We start early this morning after a breakfast at the hut. We skin up over big, wide glaciers to the Blanco Pass. The last part to the summit gets a bit steeper, but no climbing techniques are required. Ready for an unforgettable ski run down?
Night and farewell dinner in Bariloche
(Itinerary will be adapted to weather and snow conditions if needed.)
Price per skier in Swiss Francs:
With 2 skiers: 5690.- CHF
With 3 skiers: 5184.- CHF
With 4 skiers: 4161.- CHF
Included in the price:
Organisation, UIAGM – IFMGA mountain guide, private ground transportation, 11 accommodations in hotels in double rooms, 2 nights at mountain huts, breakfasts, dinners, lunches
Not included in the price:
Personal insurances (accident, cancelation, travel etc.), thermal bath entries, drinks, flights, personal equipment
Please contact us for programs and prices tailored to your wishes!
How to get to to Bariloche, Argentina
Take a 2 hours flight from Buenos Aires, the capital of Argentina.
How to get to Temuco, Chile
Take a 2 hours flight from Santiago de Chile, the capital of Chile.
Map with all the volcanos and our route
Geography and History of Patagonia
Patagonia is the scene of the world’s great adventures. Even if you know little of the place, the name itself inhabits our subconscious, whispering of an unknown finger of the earth, el fin del mundo. You picture large silent spaces and windblown solitude.
The first Europeans to lay eyes on this landscape were led by Ferdinand Magellan, who pioneered passage trough the treacherous strait that now bears his name. His expedition named the mainland “Tierra de los Patagones” unwittingly spawning the myth of a race of Patagonian giants.
To the east of the Patagonian Andes, the pampa is an immense desert, by some accounts among the five largest deserts in the world. West of the Andes is another world. Here both the Central Valley and the Coast Range have sunk into the Pacific; what were once glacial valleys are now fjords, and what were once mountaintops ar now islands. Hotsprings lay revealed by coastal erosion while great glaciers further fragment the landscape, necessitating maritime or air travel. Great forests cloak the Andes from the Pacific shoreline to the continental divide, bisected by surging emerald rivers carrying glacial silt to the sea and providing habitat for fearless trout and salmon.
A ski trip to the Lake District of Chile & Argentina “Snow-white perfect volcanoes… strung together like a string of pearls.”
The firehouses of the Mapuche Indians – The ring of fire
Volcanoes have always fascinated me. If they are also suitable for skiing and produce hot thermal water, they offer a perfect experience. In the Chilean-Argentine Lake District there are about twenty volcanoes that form part of the Pacific Ring of Fire. The snow-white volcanoes, perfectly conical in shape, are a string of pearls. They tower high above the green meadows, primeval forests and crystal-clear rivers.
The lolak Mapuche Indians called them Pillan or “firehouses”. Pillan is the name for a powerful, extraordinary, powerful and sinister appearance. Even today they still try to conjure up the spirits in the volcanoes with the help of ancient rituals.
The Mapuche are considered to be the worst-humoured, proudest Indians in South America. In December 1553, at the Battle of Tucapel, they brought a first terrible defeat to the conquistadors who were accustomed to victory. The greedy Spanish governor of Chile, Pedro de Valdivia, is said to have been in battle. Rumour has it that the Mapuche poured glowing liquid gold into his throat. Also in the following time the Indians successfully prevented a further colonization of Chile. The ongoing resistance of the indigenous people was so successful that in 1641 the Spanish had to recognise the Mapuche nation as an independent territory in a treaty, a unique process in the history of South America. So the persistently bad mood for the Mapuche paid off. Unlike most Indian peoples, they survived colonization.
In Temuco, where volcanic forces have created fascinating lunar landscapes over thousands of years, where remote mountain lakes glow and thermal springs gush, where thousand-year-old primeval forests with araucaria and southern beeches have been preserved – this is where our ski tours begin.
Volcano Lonquimay, 2865M
At the foot of the Lonquimay volcano we spend the night in a quiet lodge. The next morning we drive to the ski resort of Corralco, and put the skins on our skis. The Lonquimay with its 2865m is the perfect entry mountain into our ski adventure. After an ascent of 1362m we stand on its ridge and enjoy the wonderful view of the surrounding volcanoes. We can already have a look at the volcano Llaima, our summit destination tomorrow. In the afternoon we enjoy the warm spring sun in the garden of our lodge. The neighbours invite us for a typical dinner. We can try the yellow Llao Llao mushrooms, which grow on the native Andean beeches, pasta from the nuts of the Araucaria and fresh trout from the river.
Volcano Llaima, 3125M
The next morning we drive into the Conguigilo National Park on a bumpy natural road, freshly strengthened. The snow line is exactly at our starting point and so we can start with the skins from the car. Through the lively araucaria trees we go up to the steeper slopes of the Llaimas. It is one of the highest and most active volcanoes in the area. We deposit the skis 300m below the summit and climb the last meters with crampons. Again and again it steams from holes filled with avalanche stones. A bizarre contrast to the frozen snow through which we find our way to the summit. Also on the summit there is a mixture of ice and warm, steaming avalanche stones in all colours. A great descent brings us back down to our pick-up. A cold beer which we put in the lagoon tastes very good.
Drive to Pucon
We drive around the Llaima and after a three-hour drive in the south through forests, small villages and green meadows we reach the big Villarica lake. On its southern shore lies the volcano Villarica which proudly watches over the area. We spend the night in the small town of Pucon, the Chilean outdoor Mecca par excellence. A paradise for hiking, rafting, biking. There is a lot going on in the main street with all the restaurants and cafes. We enjoy a nice dinner with Sopa y Pilla, the typical salty pastry as Appetizer and Carmenére wine from a winery near Santiago de Chile.
If in Pucon then you have to treat yourself to a day in one of the surrounding thermal baths. We drive on the east side of the Villarica to the Geometricas baths. These are beautifully located, hidden in a small valley. Red wooden walkways lead to the numerous pools with water temperatures between freezing cold and 39C. Large, green Nalcabättern, a kind of wild rhubarb decorate the slopes and slowly but surely the tired muscles recover.
Villarica Volcano, 2847M
A layer of fog covers the valley floor around Pucon. All the more we are drawn up into the sky. Also the Bandurria birds (Ibis) with their loud screeching help us to exchange the bed for the ski touring skis. As hoped, we quickly get out of the fog. A huge sea of fog lies below us. Pucon also has a small ski area from which the tour to the volcano can be started. The Villarica offers a very special spectacle. Already on its steep summit flank a wave of stinking eggs rises from time to time in the nose. We’ll soon find out where these smells come from. A huge crater opens and we can even observe the red, bubbling Lawa in its throat. The descent from 1400m offers some ice above, then hard powder and beautiful spring snow below.
A legend explains why volcano Lanin is extinct: The god of the volcanoes Pillan, sign of the evil has become angry, because the boys Huaiquimil Indians Huemules, Andes stags would have hunted. He made the volcano Lawa spit ashes and stones over the landscape. The volcano could only be reassured when Huilefun, the prisoner’s pretty daughter, was sacrificed to it. So they brought the Indians to a sacrificial stone where they were immediately recited by a large condor and thrown into the crater. From this moment on the volcano has calmed down, its fires are extinguished and Huemules may not be hunted any more…
Argentina, Volcano Tronador 3187m
When rain is announced in Chile, it is often worthwhile to change to the Argentinean sides of the Andes. So also this time. Through dry steppe landscape we drive into the so-called Switzerland of Argentina, to Bariloche. The little town is situated at the big Nahuel Huapi Lake and is very popular with tourists and athletes from all over the world thanks to its beautiful landscape. To really dive into the Gaucho world we test ourselves the next day on horseback on a ride on an estancia. We are invited by the Estancieros to a fine Asado with delicious beef, Empanadas and Malbec wine. An extensive siesta and we are ready for tomorrow’s ascent to Refugio Meiling at Cerro Tronador.
Ascent to Pampa Linda
In the Pampa Linda, the beautiful Pampa, our ascent begins through an impressive forest with huge Coihues trees. In about 4 hours we arrive at the Refugio. Lorena has already heated up and brewed coffee. She cooks a delicious lentil stew while it blows and snows outside. The strong winds shake the hut all night long. It only remains to hope that tomorrow it will be calmer. We almost overslept, no sound can be heard and the sun slowly rises in the distance. A splendid day without clouds and wind!
To the top
Federico, our local IVBV mountain guide from Patagoniatiptop, will take you up to the pass between the Pico Argentino and the Pico Internacional. The extinct volcano has 3 peaks. Our destination is Argentina, the Pico Chilene in Chile and the International, as the name suggests, right on the border. From the pass it goes steeply up with a short, easy climbing tour in the second degree at the very end. It’s great to be up here. If our guests had more time, we could add some more volcanoes to the program. We see the volcanoes Osorno, Puntiagudo, Puyehue which erupted in 2011 and Casablanca. All are great ski touring mountains.
After the descent and a short descent we drive through the Nahuel Huapi National Park back to Bariloche. Our guests from Switzerland fly back home in the morning.
The tour can be made as a round trip from/to Bariloche or as an Andes traverse from Temuco, Chile to Bariloche, Argentina or vice versa. The airport of Temuco can be reached with a domestic flight from Santiago de Chile, that of Bariloche with a two-hour flight from Buenos Aires.
Best time to go ski touring:
Early September to mid October are ideal for ski tours on the volcanoes. The days are longer and the climate is comparable to March/April in the northern hemisphere. Down in the valleys it is already pleasantly warm and often the slopes of the volcanoes offer perfect firn conditions. As in the Alps, it can snow in spring. The volcanoes often surprise you with powder snow.
Flexibility is the magic word for a good ski tour program in this area. Depending on the weather, it can be very valuable to switch quickly from one side of the Andes to the other. Weather and conditions can vary greatly. We like to keep our programs flexible so that our guests can enjoy the best descents.
Daily ascents from 1200-1800m should be mastered. On some volcanoes you have to climb the top with crampons. Experience is required. Downhill runs in all kinds of snow with up to 40 degrees should not be a problem.
Ella Alpiger, Swiss hiking guide and snow sports teacher, owner Patagoniatiptop GmbH. For over 10 years I have been travelling back and forth between Patagonia and the Alps and have been able to turn my dream into my profession.
Ski touring around Refugio Frey in Bariloche is a must on a ski trip down to Argentina!
The hut is legendary and the ambiance is great! Not to talk about the many skiing options between Granite towers and mountain lagoons. Come enjoy a couple great Bariloche skiing days with us in Northern Patagonia.
Ski touring Itinerary
1st day: Cerro Catedral – Refugio Frey We pick you up at your hotel in Bariloche and drive to the Cerro Cathedral ski area. A few lifts bring us to the top of the mountain where our ski touring trip starts. We will reach the Frey hut after a first nice run down to Vantitter valley and a short ascend up to the hut. There will be plenty of couloirs with fresh snow to be discovered this afternoon. Night and dinner at the cosy Frey hut
2nd day: Refugio Frey Ski touring All day skiing around Refugio Frey today. We will discover mountain lagoons, ski between Granit towers and make sure you try a good Mate – Tee at the end of the day. Enjoy a dinner and night at Frey hut
3rd day: Refugio Frey – Bariloche There is lots to ski still today before heading back down to Bariloche.
Included in the price: Organisation, local IVBV-IFMGA mountain guide, Transport from/to your Hotel in Bariloche, Ski pass 1st day, 2 nights at mountain hut with full board
Not included in the price: Hotel in Bariloche, personal insurance (accident, annulation, travel etc.), drinks
Located on the shores of Toncek lagoon, with turquoise cold waters, at the foot of Frey peak in Mount Catedral. Named after Engineer Emilio Frey, a member of the Border Committee presided by Perito Moreno since 1895. He was the park administrator of the Nahuel Huapi National Park and one of the founders of Club Andino Bariloche.
How to get to Bariloche
Flights: Air transport is more comfortable and most widely chosen to travel from Buenos Aires to Bariloche (BRC). Flights are offered by LATAM and Aerolíneas Argentinas airlines. Flight time is about 2hrs.
Bus: There is a large offering of buses in Argentina, and most offer services from and to Bariloche. You can choose from among basic services, seats partially convertible into beds, fully convertible into beds or executive bed service. They all offer comfortable seats, onboard movies, drinks, breakfast, lunch or dinner during the trip. Find your bus here.
Coming from Chile: There are buses from Puerto Montt or Osorno. This is a good website to find your bus connections.
Packing list for Refugio Frey ski touring
There are no showers in the huts but you will find running water and toilets to clean yourself.
Ski touring Skis with skins (Ski around 80mm under foot, max 90mm)
Ski touring boots
Avalanche probe, shovel and beacon
Backpack 30-40 Lts
Sleeping bag (thin, for the hut)
Pocket knife or Leatherman
Waterbottle / Thermosbottle
Crocs or light weight sandals
2 pairs of skiing socks
Warm skiing underwear
Water proof Goretex jacket
Water proof Goretex pants
Water proof Goretex gloves with insulation or similar
Buff or similar
Sunglasses with UV filter + Goggles
Sun screen and lipstick
Tooth brush and paste
Personal toiletries and medicaments
Bag to keep things waterproof in your backpack
Valid passport/visa (with/photo copy carried separately. Also leave a copy with someone at home)
Cash in U.S. dollars (not smaller than 50US for a better change)
Bring cash in pesos (or change in US$) up to the huts for beers/wine
Change of plan
Anyone familiar with the backcountry knows to expect the unexpected and the weather is unpredictable. Be prepared for a potential Plan B if the conditions/ weather change.
Located in Argentina’s Río Negro province, Bariloche is a city surrounded by thousand-year-old forests, mountains covered in snow and crystal clear lakes. It’s quintessentially Patagonian and located within the Nahuel Huapi National Park. A city that is home to excellence and surrounded by some of the country’s most beautiful natural spots.
Patagoniatiptop guides a large variety of trips to the Alps and the Andes and teaches you skills to improve your outdoor abilities. As a small company, we are able to provide highly personalised services and set the highest quality standard for your trip.
All of our mountain guides are certified UIAGM-IFMGA and our mountain leaders are certified UIMLA. We encourage you to explore our site and to contact us with any questions or thoughts about our guiding and teaching services.