Article for the Ski Club, view here.
La Parva is the Three Valley’s smallest resort, but don’t let that dishearten you. With 40 slopes and 15 ski lifts, most of which are intermediate, the resort also caters for beginners, although Farellones is the best. However, it is just as appealing to experts as this does not include the expansive off-piste terrain and the park.
The park is a little smaller than that of Valle Nevado, but it has a mixture of features, primarily rails and during peak season they also have an airbag where you can practise new tricks safely. There is also a boarder cross opposite the park, which is good fun if you’d rather get some speed rather than height!
You can purchase a three valleys lift pass, which is not advertised online, usually you can book it through your hotel or the list pass office. Unfortunately, it is usually quite expensive as you have to buy a lift pass for each resort.
In addition, La Parva boasts ski nocturno (night skiing) on the beginner and intermediate runs; La Paloma, Manzanito and Golondrinas, which is obviously a great added extra for the guests staying in La Parva, especially as the slopes won’t be busy as most Santiaguinos only travel up for the day on the weekends.
Unlike Valle Nevado, the accommodation here isn’t particularly glam, but you can rent ski in, ski out self catered apartments that vary in size from 5 people to 10 people, which tends to tick the mid-range price box. These apartments are usually rented for the week, but in some cases, such as at apartamento privados you can rent it for 3 nights, either at the beginning of the week or the end of the week. As it is a more Chilean family based resort, there isn’t much going on in the evenings, but there are a handful of restaurants in the town.
La Marmita is a must for refuelling at lunchtime, with the option of going full Chileno, with an asado (bbqued meat) or choripan (chrorizo hot dog) or full gringo with a cheese fondue. It’s unlikely that it will be quite as good as elsewhere as Chilean cheese is nowhere near as good as the French. Both Alfonsina and Restaurant 3100 are on the mountain and have terraces perfect for catching the afternoon sun and improving your goggle tan! At the end of a long day shredding, head to either St Tropez or Café Olimpica’s terrace for a dreamy pisco sour and an empanada.
And finally, what you really want to know… Where can I find the best powder?
To access the Valle de Fabres in La Parva, you take the Fabres chairlift and then from there, you can enjoy the expansive and interesting free ride terrain, which has some great riding, with steep chutes and long powder runs. Or you can jump on the Las Aguillas lift and with just a short hike you can check out where you want to ride and pick your line. However, this is obviously weather dependant, when it’s good its great, but when it’s not, it turns more into a windy, icey, rocky hellhole! Although the season is short, the weather is usually relatively reliable, with powder lasting up to 3 days after a big dump, and supposedly 80% days of sunshine!
If you’re an absolute powder hound then the 2 hour hike up to the summit of Cerro La Parva won’t daunt you and you will definitely earn your turns. This terrain has great couloirs, bowls and cliffs and notably La Falsa Parva, Mckonkeys (named after Shane McKonkey), La Cara, a steep wall, and La Chimenea, which has an steep drop in into a tight and long couloir.
If you’re not a keen hiker, then you can still access the Manatiales powder haven, just ensure the snow quality is good beforehand, otherwise it may not be enjoyable cruising over crusty snow.
Overall, La Parva is an underrated resort, the Chileans like to keep it to themselves because it has a lot of great spots. It has both challenging off-piste and good snow cover, which therefore deemed La Parva appropriate for the 2009 Free ride Championships in 2009. They also used to host the Eye of the Condor competition for short films, celebrating skiing and mountain culture in Chile. The Andean Condor is a largist vulture, a bird of prey, that is very endangered, here are some of the best videos:
Team Discrete, 2011
Teton Gravity taking Eye of the Condor III home as well as featuring La Chimenea!