Guide to Chile: Valle Nevado Ski Resort
Valle Nevado opened in 1988 and remains the most sophisticated and modern of the Chilean resorts.
The resort connects through to La Parva and El Colorado to form the 110km 'Tres Valles' complex - the largest skiable area in the southern hemisphere.
The resort of Valle Nevado is only a few kilometers from downtown Santiago. Drive east out of the city and you get to the nicer suburbs then the road starts to head up the hill. Right at the top is the resort.
The views are enormous and the slopes wide and open, all well above the tree line. At night you see the lights of Santiago beneath you.
Valle Nevado is an open playground of snow. 40km of of slopes and runs (22,000 acres) serviced by 11 lifts.
The runs break down as 12% beginner, 70% intermediate/advanced, 18% expert.
The highest elevation of the resort is 3,670m with a vertical drop of nearly 1,000m.
For anyone looking for tuition, there is an excellent ski school. Boarders can enjoy the Snowboard Park with a half-pipe and a border cross.
The snowboard world championships come here most years.
Valle Nevado is also considered to be one of the best, and cheapest places to try heli-skiing.
Slopes and Lifts
High on Andean slopes with views across to the 5,400m El Plomo peak.
Ski-able area: 107km
Slopes: 29 slopes for all skill levels
Lifts: 12 ski lifts
Max altitude: 3,670m
Season: June - September or very early October
Services: Ski classes, ski rental, heli-ski, swimming pool, gym, restaurants, mini-market.
Slopes are connected to those at the resort of La Parva and El Colorado if you buy an extension to your ticket.
The resorts of El Colorado and La Parva have no direct link.
There are three hotels up at Valle Nevado. The five star 'Hotel Valle Nevado', the four star 'Hotel Puerta del Sol' and the three star 'Hotel Tres Puntas'.
The Valle Nevado hotel is small, ski in ski out but really quite expensive, particularly considering that it is more of a four star experience.
The Puerta del Sol hotel is a good bet, and is a decent enough four star, a few metres from the slopes but really very comfortable.
The Tres Puntas tends to be for a slightly younger crowd, though it is still perfectly comfortable and still only just the other side of a small car park from the lifts.
Whichever hotel you choose, you can dine (included) in any one of the nine restaurants on site.
Again, this is all on site - Valle Nevado is really just three hotels set around a car park on top of a mountain.
The bar of each hotel reflects their target market - the Valle Nevado has a comfy bar with large armchairs, perfect for an evening in front of the fire drinking whisky.
The Puerta del Sol wants you to come in with your family and enjoy a quiet, fairly early drink then off to bed.
The Tres Puntas wants you to stay, inflict some karaoke on us and then dance the night away.
There is also a small hot pool where you can soak after a day's skiing or boarding.
From Santiago you drive up to the resort. It is only about an hour from the centre of the city making it a realistic option for a day trip.
The road up is an experience in itself. Once you get past the suburbs, the road rises incredibly quickly up 60 switchbacks lead to the top of the mountain.
The story goes that the workers on the road were paid a bonus on completing the road with as little tarmac as possible.
The story is most likely apocryphal but not unbelievable as those curves are pretty steep and there's no wasted tarmac to get you up there.
Bear in mind that the road is usually open for traffic coming up the hill in the mornings and for traffic heading downhill in the afternoon.