Ski Arpa Snowcat Skiing, Chile
Campos de Ahumada s/n
Los Andes, Chile
Phone: 56 2 244 2750 Email: [email protected]
Lifts 0, Snow cats 2, 4000+ acres, 3,500 vertical feet
Avalanche beacon required (rentals available for $5)
Ski Arpa is the only snow cat operation in Chile. Hidden 100 km. north of Santiago in a secluded part of the Andes, Ski Arpa is a “must do” for any snow riders in the area. Lapping these 11,000 to 12,000 foot peaks can be just as incredible as any of the heli operations in the area for a fraction of the cost.
Ski Arpa consist of two valleys. Valle el Arpa and Valle la Honda are huge valleys that climb up over 3,000 vertical feet to some runs that could be classified in the “runs of a lifetime” category. Many of the shots are rated double black diamond, and some of the ridge riding might feel a little exposed, if not used to this environment. However, there are a few intermediate lines down to the bottom that are also spectacular.
On a clear day the views extend for hundreds, and possible over a thousand miles away. From the peak of Punta Guanaco (12,342 feet) the sights of Aconcagua, the highest mountain in South America at 22,968 feet, and the Pacific Ocean are obtainable.
The professional guides take great care of their clients, and know the mountain better then anyone. Weather and snow conditions change by the minute, but the guides will do their best to find the dry, light powder.
When planning a trip to Arpa, it is best to watch the weather and plan a visit accordingly once in Chile. However, if in the area for a week or less, reservations are recommended because the snowcats do fill up at times. The general managers all speak English and are very informative and helpful when planning a trip. After a big storm it may take a day or two to get the road open, so be prepared to change plans if needed. In this case a trip to one of the nearby ski resorts may be a good option until the access is cleared.
There are no restaurants or accommodations at Arpa, so bring a lunch and a preferred beverage to enjoy at the end of the (potentially) “best day ever”. The closest accommodations are about an hour away in the town of Los Andes. Many riders have found out about the goods at Arpa. Some base themselves in Los Andes and ride the snowcats for consecutive days. If interested in this plan, check out the Hotel Plaza ($) (34-421-929).
Getting to Ski Arpa can be a little tricky. From Santiago there are a few transportation services that will make the round trip, for around $60 per person. Swisschile Tours (2-212-4665, www.swissschiletours.com) has comfortable transports that do this trip often. Also check out Santiago Adventures (in the US (802)904-6798, in Chile 2 224 2750, www.santiagoadventures.com)