Areas’ Marketing Campaigns Are In Full Swing, But Will The Weather Cooperate?

La Parva, Chile, sunset through the icicles. Credit: Casey Earle

For 2020, the ski season revolved around the multiple ills Chile has been suffering, including the ongoing drought that affected the skiing. This year would seem to be a continuation of those ills, including social and political unrest, economic suffering, and plague. In spite of all that, last year a few ski areas opened late in August, and the skiing was quite good. These were La Parva, El Colorado, and Corralco. Backcountry access was difficult due to covid restrictions.

Up until a few weeks ago, some optimism was brewing. Chile’s vaccination program had taken off strongly, Santiago had avoided a second wave, the elections for the constituents of the constitutional assembly were on for April 11, and rain had come to the central zone in January. Now, it would seem the Brazilian variant is ravaging the country, 90 percent of the inhabitants are in quarantine, hospitals are overflowing, and the elections are being postponed for a month. Riots flare up periodically, and the slow burn insurgency in Araucanía continues. Hard to be optimistic in this environment, but I will try.

Marketing announcing discounts for this season at La Parva. Credit: Casey Earle

The ski areas are certainly running their marketing campaigns like this season will actually happen with a semblance of normalcy.

La Parva touts their continuing commitment to opening the ski area, as they have done with their bike park during the summer.

Other areas are chomping at the bit to get the season going too, like Antillanca.

The dark spot is Valle Nevado, which is in arrears on a wide variety of debts, and recently initiated a chapter 11-type restructure of their obligations through to 2026, with large additional short term injections to keep the lifts turning. They cite the drought and covid as contributing factors to their woes.

In the weather department, the Chilean weather service just published their predictions for the fall (April, May, June).  Click here for details.

In summary, with rising subsurface temps in the central Pacific, the Niña has ended, and a neutral period begun (“La Nada”), but rainfall deficits are still expected. These will be most intense in the central zone, with the far south receiving excess rainfall. A El Niño event could occur late in 2021, if the warmer waters surge through to the southeastern Pacific, but that is highly unpredictable.

What really matters though is what sort of rainfall will happen from June on when most of the snow falls. I would not dare a prediction as drought has been the norm and is most likely to continue, but one (or god permitting, two) atmospheric rivers could change everything, as happened in late June 2020 under lockdown.

If you are thinking about a trip down this winter, it is probably unwise to plan just yet. That said, if the vaccination effort goes well, and those pesky variants calm down, possibilities for August are not out of the question.

Crossing our fingers!

Riding the Roca Jack “Va et Vient” with the US Ski Team. several seasons ago. Credit: Casey Earle

One Comment

  1. Ah…the Va et Vient…many terrified memories of that thing. But LOVED skiing S. America…Chile, Argentina. Incredible times. I knew Mimi Leatherby and stayed with her a couple of times while learning the history of the three resorts (before Valle Nevado was even an idea).

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