Andean ski volcanoes

The caldera of Volcán Puyehue is an amazing experience, but it’s not for the uninitiated. Several other Andean volcanoes offer brilliant skiing and genuine adventure in a more straightforward setting. Here are three popular options in the region.

Volcán Osorno | (2,652 meters)

Credit: Rich Vinglas. Credit: Rich Vinglas.

This beautiful, symmetrical, snow-covered peak lies 1,000 kilometers south of Santiago, just northeast of Puerto Montt, which is the gateway to the Patagonian region. It serves up idyllic skiing with views over the vast glacial lake, Lago Llanquihue.

Mocho-Choshuenco | (2,422 meters and 2,415 meters)

Credit: Rich Vinglas. Credit: Rich Vinglas.

The twin-peaked volcanoes of Mocho and Choshuenco are tucked away in the remote Huilo-Huilo nature preserve. The volcanic origins of this landscape are evident. Layers of basalt have been torn into a ragged chasm, and an explosion crater greets you partway up the climb. Higher up, the topography softens to yield friendly bowls with the occasional cinder cone. Both the climbing and skiing are uncomplicated, making for an enjoyable experience amid rugged surroundings.

Volcán Villarrica | (2,847 meters)

Credit: Rich Vinglas. Credit: Rich Vinglas.

This peak is made especially attractive by the constant plume of steam billowing from its conical summit. Upon completion of the 1,500-meter ascent, skiers and climbers are greeted by the exhilarating experience of peering straight down the throat of the active crater. Once you’ve snapped a few hundred pictures of this remarkable sight, there is nearly a vertical mile of intensely fun skiing to enjoy. Because of its scale and iconic nature, this is one of Chile’s most popular mountains to climb. The nearby city of Pucón offers plentiful options for lodging, food and a bustling dose of Chilean culture.

Karin Kirk

Credit: Donny Roth.

Karin ( is freelance writer and geoscience education consultant, as well as a ski instructor and guide at Bridger Bowl ski area in Bozeman, Mont.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015 - 06:00

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