Araucania & the Lake District, Chile
Exotic ski mountaineering in the Southern Hemisphere.
Southern Chile is a land of monkey puzzle trees, ancient forests, otherworldly landscapes, and beautiful volcanoes. In the Southern Hemisphere spring, these mountains become perfect ski mountaineering objectives, offering smooth corn and 5,000' descents. On this 11-day mission we set off to ski four volcanoes:
9,400’ / 2,865m
10,253’ / 3,125m
9,341’ / 2,847m
8,701’ / 2,652m
Climb and ski four Andean volcanoes over the course of one trip: Lonquimay, Llaima, Villarrica, and Osorno.
Combine both single and multi-day ascents during the expedition, staying in comfortable Chilean lodges between objectives.
Build your ski mountaineering experience with instruction and practice on fun and challenging terrain.
Experience the beautiful landscapes and welcoming culture of Southern Chile.
Day 1 — TRAVEL
Depart U.S.A. Travel to Temuco, Chile (ZCO) typically takes 18-27 hours from the U.S. depending on your departure city, available connections, and flight times.
Day 2 — TEMUCO
Upon arrival in Temuco, we are picked up at the airport and transferred to our hotel. After checking into the rooms there is time to explore the city or to relax. In the evening we meet in the hotel lobby for introductions and a brief orientation.
Day 3 — CORRALCO
After breakfast we travel to the Corralco Ski Center, a ski area situated at the base of Volcan Lonquimay. We spend the afternoon riding the lifts and skiing some of the backcountry terrain accessed by the ski area; a great opportunity to get our ski legs back under us. At the end of the day we drive down to the town of Malalcahuello where we settle into our accommodations on a beautiful ranch. Overnight in Malalcahuello. B, D
Day 4 — LONQUIMAY SUMMIT DAY
After breakfast we drive to the base of Volcan Lonquimay and begin our ascent. In our daypacks we carry our standard ski mountaineering kit including ice axe, boot crampons, and ski crampons — prepared for all types of snow conditions. With soft snow conditions, it is possible to skin to the top of Lonquimay. With the more typical spring melt-freeze conditions we’ll encounter, crampons and an ice axe become the best tools for the job - especially the last 1,000’ where the angle ramps up to sustained “black diamond” terrain. Climbing Lonquimay typically takes 5-6 hours. The 4,500’ ski descent from the summit goes much faster. Overnight in Malalcahuello. B, D
Day 5 — APPROACH TO LLAIMA
We shift focus to our next objective, Volcan Llaima. Although Llaima is right across the valley from Malalcahuello, it’s about a 2 hour drive to our starting point. With overnight packs packed, we ascend to the top of a small ski area called Las Araucarias Ski Center (Araucarias are Monkey Puzzle trees). From here we cross a broad plateau to the base of the mountain, where we setup camp for the night. B, D
Day 6 — SUMMIT DAY on LLAIMA
With an alpine start, we start our climb on Llaima. Looking up at this mountain from the base, the summit looks close, but it’s an optical illusion. It doesn’t seem to get any closer until we’re finally there - about 6 hours of climbing from our camp. The crater rim of Llaima is covered in ultra sharp lava rock, formed during its 2009 eruption. The ski descent off the top of Llaima is quite steep, requiring careful, controlled turns. A few thousand feet later, we pack up our camp and ski out the rest of the way to the base. Overnight in Malalcahuello. B, D
Day 7 — SKIING in the MALALCAHUELLO VALLEY
The Malalcahuello Valley offers a number of great ski touring options. Depending on weather and snow conditions, this day may include ski touring on two other nearby volcanoes, Sierra Nevada or Tolhuaca, or exploring more of the terrain in the vicinity of Lonquimay. This is also an optional rest day for participants interested in soaking in the termas (hot springs) or other low land activities such as hiking or horseback riding. In the evening we celebrate our last night in Malalcahuello with a traditional Chilean asido (bbq) prepared by our host. B, D
Day 8 — DRIVE to PUCON
We leave Malalcahuello and drive to the resort town of Pucon. This busy little Chilean ski town sits on the shores of the beautiful Lake Villarrica, with Volcan Villarrica towering impressively above the town — our next objective. The afternoon is free for participants to explore Pucon. Overnight in Pucon. B
Day 9 — VILLARRICA SUMMIT DAY
Like other volcanoes, our climb on Villarrica starts from the base of a small ski area — this one called Ski Pucon. Being our third volcano of the trip, by this point we’re starting to get in the groove of these summit days. We skin half to two-thirds of the way to the summit before transitioning to boot crampons. The 5,000’ vertical foot climb to the summit of Villarrica takes about 5 hours. In good conditions, the descent back to the parking lot takes 25 minutes! B
Day 10 — DRIVE to OSORNO HUT
It’s about a 4 hour drive south to Volcan Osorno as we leave Araucania (land of Monkey Puzzle trees) and enter Chile’s beautiful Lakes District. We stay the night at a refugio (hut) at the base of the mountain, overlooking the deep blue waters of Lake Llanquihue. Overnight at Osorno Hut. B, D
Day 11 — OSORNO SUMMIT DAY
Similar in character to Villarrica and Lonquimay, Osorno is about a 5,000’ ascent, and we’re able to skin a for a good portion of this elevation gain. Depending on the season, getting to the summit can involve a couple exciting rope lengths of climbing rime ice, in which case we leave our skis at the base. In other years this becomes snow covered, allowing us to ski from the summit. We high five on top, enjoying 360° views of lakes surrounding the mountain. This is our final big ski run of the trip. We celebrate our last evening in the beautiful village of Puerto Varas. B
DAY 12 — DEPART PUERTO MONTT
From our accommodations in Puerto Varas, it’s about a 30 minute drive to El Tepual International Airport (PMC) in Punta Montt, where we bid farewell for outbound flights. B
DAY 13 — HOME
In Partnership with rmi expeditions
This trip is operated in partnership with RMI Expeditions. Our partnership combines the strengths of our guide services: RMI's decades of experience leading countless successful international expeditions, with Pacific Alpine Guides experience specializing in guided backcountry skiing and remote ski mountaineering around the world.
13 days (11 days in-country)
Sept 30-Oct 12, 2023