A couple of days ago we did and article on summertime in Las Leñas. A wonderful time to go there. But in winter Las Leñas really and truly comes into its own as one of the best resorts in South America. It is no idle boast that “on a clear day you can ski forever!”
Las Lenas is a self-contained Andean village resort, which has a wide selection of restaurants, bars, shops, hotels, and even a casino, but most importantly it is one of the most complete ski centres in South America with its fabulous location right in the centre of a ski valley.
With a vertical slope of 1,225m and its unbeatable snow, Las Leñas is a dream destination, but it’s the back country trails where this resort really comes into its own for our readers. 20,000 acres of endless powder – the best free-riding in South America.
The winter season runs from July to September and so popular is the resort that they are already busy taking bookings.
Although there is a wide variety of intermediate and beginner runs the resort is keen that you are not under the impression that you are coming to an Aspen or a Vail or a Whistler type of resort. The intermediate and beginners trails are not as varied or as well-groomed as the resorts that northern hemisphere skiers are used to, but they are wide and long and a great place to hone your skills. There are 2 or 3 decent steep blue runs off Marte and the Vulcano chairlifts that are more difficult and ensure a decent challenge for intermediate standard.
Las Leñas Ski Resort experts also want you to know that because they are nowhere near as organized as North America and Europe, visitors should deal with someone who actually lives, eats, skis and sleeps in the region. They will make sure you have a truly brilliant holiday and they are prepared to do such barmy things as hang-out at the UFO point till 6a.m! However, when it comes to skiing they will ensure that you have a ski holiday like never before. They know all the biggest lines, all the hidden trails, all the resorts’ secrets.
Inside knowledge has its advantages…
Having issued the warning that for grooming etc they can’t compare with America and Europe’s ski resorts, they can, however, challenge these resorts when it comes to quantity and quality of trails. Las Leñas has more lift-serviced ski terrain than any other ski area in the Western Hemisphere. More than Jackson Hole, more than Whistler/Blackcomb. Combine Vail and Snowbird, remove all the lifts that parallel each other, and you have a fair representation of Las Leñas.
And it certainly has an advantage when it comes to heading out into 20,000 acres of off-piste adventure – the ultimate South American ski experience they say. It has a well deserved “steep and deep” reputation that has made it a magnet for the best extreme skiers in the world.
Off piste skiing at Las Lenas is enough to keep you going for many summer ski vacations without ever skiing over your own tracks. Some of the best advanced and expert terrain in the world is just a traverse off the upper mountain Marte chairlift.
If you are interested in alpine touring there are specific trips for that, but be warned they require more than a one week stay.
The mountain’s only flaw is that inclement weather and extreme avalanche danger often keep the majority of the mountain closed. In addition, only strong, experienced skiers are qualified to ski most of the upper slopes. If you are going off-piste it is advisable to bring your own avalanche transceivers.