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Best Skiing South of The Equator

Best Skiing South of The Equator
© Termas de Chillán
Termas de Chillán, Chile

What is Termas de Chillán's main attraction? Is it the 3,600 feet of vertical terrain? Is it the excellent snow conditions? The world-class service? The vistas of ancient South American forests? Or perhaps it's the termas themselves? Termas mean "thermals," or hot springs. The area supplies a number of the steaming pools, some unmodified in the wilderness and others sheltered in spa facilities—all with prized relaxation and rehabilitation qualities. Chillán is Chile's most complete ski and spa center with 30 groomers and a decent amount of challenging off-piste terrain for the skier and a full pampering experience for the travel partner who prefers to stay out of the cold.

For more information: Termas de Chillán

Best Skiing South of The Equator
© Ski Portillo Chile
Portillo, Chile

Ski Portillo Chile (simply known as Portillo) attracts well-heeled skiers, snowboarders and their entourages from around the world. Just a two-hour drive from Santiago, it sits completely above the tree line and offers wide-open views from its expansive terrain. One of the largest ski areas in South America, its ski season typically runs from the middle of June to the beginning of October. Portillo landed on the international radar when it first hosted the alpine World Championships in 1966 and has since become one of the most sought after spots for off-season skiing and ski race training for aficionados and professional skiers alike.

For more information: Portillo

Best Skiing South of The Equator
© Valle Nevado
Valle Nevado, Chile

There is a good reason why K2 Skis heads down to Valle Nevado to demo their next year's line of equipment prior to the North American and European ski seasons. Valle Nevado is modern, well developed, endlessly skiable and surprisingly accessible to Santiago. As you can ski from Valle Nevado to the adjacent mountains of La Parva and El Colorado, the whole area is considered the most extensive ski resort in all of Latin America. There is a developed snow park and half pipe for all of the stuntmen out there as well as affordable access to heli-skiing. Look out for the U.S. Ski Team, as they are known to train in these parts.

For more information: Valle Nevado

Best Skiing South of The Equator
© Las Leñas 2007
Las Leñas, Argentina

Considered by some to be the most challenging skiing south of the Equator and by others to be one of the best ski areas in the world—north or south, Las Leñas is indisputably the top place to ski in Argentina. Known from its couloirs and steep pitches, it also showcases dry, fluffy powder and a good number of sunny days. There is a huge amount of accessible terrain that rivals its neighbor, Valle Nevado, on the other side of the Andes. The skiing season lasts from mid June to mid October. There are no towns nearby, which helps to limit crowds but does not give much diversity in terms of accommodations.

For more information: Las Leñas

Best Skiing South of The Equator
© Catedral Alta Patagonia
Cerro Catedral (Bariloche), Argentina

Cerro Catedral, often just referred to as Bariloche after the neighboring town, is about 12 miles from San Carlos de Bariloche inside the Nahuel Huapí National Park. Similar to Lake Tahoe ski resorts in California, Cerro Catedral offers up spectacular views of a deep, azure lake as you ski down the mountainside. The area is not as challenging as Las Leñas to the north, but wins point for its pleasant demeanor and the convivial scene in Bariloche. The area is the access point to a bevy of other outdoor sports and draws travelers and skiers from around the globe.

For more information: Cerro Catedral

Best Skiing South of The Equator
© Mt. Hotham
Mt. Hotham, Australia

Mt. Hotham is recognized not only for its large skiable area, but for its steep terrain—by Australian standards anyhow. The runs are skewed towards intermediate and advanced with fewer offerings for beginners. The "ski field" as it is known Down Under, is in Victoria province, about 148 miles from Melbourne. Visitors stay in Mount Hotham Village, which sits just below the peak and gives access to the yawning valley that constitutes most of the resort. Mt. Hotham also claims to receive one of the highest annual snowfall of any resort in this part of Australia, which is a boon considering the continuing drought.

For more information: Mt. Hotham

Best Skiing South of The Equator
© Perisher Blue Ski Resort
Perisher Blue, Australia

Perisher Blue is Australia's largest and most developed ski resort. It is located in the Australian Snowy Mountains in the southeastern corner of New South Wales, 373 miles from Sydney, close to Canberra. It is primarily an intermediate and family mountain and doesn't offer the adrenaline pumping steeps of Hotham. But, it is actually a combination of Perisher, Blue Cow, Guthega and Smiggins Holes ski fields and has a mind-blowing 49 lifts and an underground railway to access the resort without concern for road conditions. The official season runs from the second weekend in June to the beginning of October depending on the longevity of the snow pack.

For more information: Perisher Blue

Best Skiing South of The Equator
© Treble Cone
Treble Cone, New Zealand

New Zealand's South Island ski field Treble Cone has brilliant views over Lake Wanaka and Mt. Aspiring. It has well-groomed terrain for beginners and intermediates. Even a great café. But forget all of that. Treble Cone is considered to be one of the best in New Zealand for its unbeatable vertical drop and steep, challenging runs that have given it a dedicated international following of serious skiers and snowboarders who come to push their limits. They take the Saddle quad chair to the top of Tim's Table and then hike the remaining distance to the top of the Treble Cone for some fresh tracks down the untouched face.

For more information: Treble Cone

Best Skiing South of The Equator
© Southern Alpine Recreation Ltd.
Mount Hutt, New Zealand

Just 90 minutes from the city of Christchurch, Mt. Hutt's slopes cater to all levels of skiers and snowboarders from May or June through October. The mountain gets storms that bring in light, dry powder, but also, unfortunately, block off the access road at times. The large area is wide-open, above-the-tree-line skiing with long curving bowls that form the tops of the lift accessible area. From the top, the views look out across the green plains below. Mt. Hutt was able to significantly update and invest in infrastructure in the last years while maintaining its welcoming, laidback vibe.

For more information: Mount Hutt

Best Skiing South of The Equator
© Ruapehu Alpine Lifts Ltd.
Turoa, New Zealand
Reached by a mountain road from the town of Ohakune, Turoa is the ski field on the southwestern side of Mount Ruapehu, the highest peak in the North Island of New Zealand. Ruapehu is an active volcano in Tongariro National Park and is also home to Whakapapa ski field. Together, the Whakapapa and Turoa constitute a massive amount of skiable acreage. Turoa edges its neighbor for its varied terrain including everything from easy rollers for the beginners up to some steep pitches and twisting gullies for advanced skiers. Although the South Island is generally considered to have superior mountains, Turoa holds its own and is still within a reasonable distance from the international airport in Auckland.
For more information: Mt. Ruapehu

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