Chillan ski resort is about 4 hours south of Santiago. Set in on the slopes of two dominating volcanoes it has some great freeride terrain. We were fortunate to visit on two occasions about 5 weeks apart and both times it had about 15cm of fresh powder. The first visit we skinned from the resort base to the summit of Volcan Chillan about 1700m of vertical height gain. We were given a fair bit of abuse from ski patrol for skinning up on edge of the piste. This annoyed me so we ignored them.
The skin track up is easy but route finding in the various combs of old lava flows can be confusing. We had a blue bird powder day which gave us spectacular views and amzing snow to ski down. We climbed the bare rock of the ‘new’ cone. It is clear of snow due to the heat in the rock which is warm to the touch.
The next day we bought lift passes and rode some of the fun terrain from the slow rickety chair lift. Lots of wide half pipe shaped valleys and plenty of cornice drops to jump. There was also a few sneaky tree runs which were super fun. In Chile the snowline is generally above the trees so this was about the only time we skied in trees. There are also subtle reminders that this is a volcanoe, with the smell of sulphur and hot steam rising at random spots. Skiing amoung steam vents and parrots is a little unusual!
The next day we used the lifts and then traversed over to the neighbouring valley, called Aguas Caliente. As the name translate it has various hot water streams converging in steaming deep snow canyons. We hiked up to the highest point to get a run down into the valley through deep untouched powder. It really was the most sunning snowboard I have experienced, as we reached the vally bottom we picked some snow bridges to get to a spot in the stream were we stopped, stripped and jumped into hot water for a soak. Getting out and clothed again was harder. There was also a 400m vertical climb to get out the valley and back down to the resort. We were tired by the end and got little stuck above a waterfall on the way back to resort, all good fun!
On our next visit to the area we were again greeted by fresh overnight powder and rode the resort lifts staying in the campervan parked up in the carpark.