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Friday, August 26, 2005

Cat Skiing in Chile

Snowcat at Ski Arpa in ChileWe've heard from Caimin Roycroft who is a guide at Ski Arpa at Los Andes near Santiago, Chile. It's the first cat skiing operation we've heard of in South America. Caimin is an ex-Kicking Horse Resort skier.

Ski Arpa is three years old and does not yet have accommodation at the ski hill, but something is planned for next year. The road to the area is "basic" and 4x4 is suggested, but not usually necessary. Most clients are Americans who take day-trips from Santiago. It looks as if this is basically a ski hill that uses snowcats for uphill transportation. The terrain size is over 4000 acres (16+ sq km). Weekdayday skiing is by reservation and weekends run on a first come, first serve basis. The company encourages the hiring of guides, but it does not seem to be mandatory. Caimin says there are guides with most groups and, when there is avalanche risk, they just don't operate. He says, "Being a coastal snowpack it is fairly dense and easier to predict".

Sounds like Caimin's working hard to promote the place and to build up the ski and guiding programs. Good luck!

Here's a Globe and Mail article about Ski Arpa.