El Colorado Lifts & Terrain

Our Terrain Ratings

Powderhound rating = advanced/expert terrain + powder + freshies + uncrowded

Our Terrain Ratings

Powderhound rating = advanced/expert terrain + powder + freshies + uncrowded
    Open El Colorado Trail Map
  • Vertical (m)
    2,430 – 3,333 (903)
  • Average Snow Fall
      5 metres
  • Lifts (18)
    4 Chairs
  • Ski Hours
    9:00am to 5:00pm
    Mid June to Mid October
  • Terrain Summary
    Runs – 22
    Longest run – 4.3 km
    Advanced - 40%
    Intermediate - 20%
    Beginner - 40%
  • Lift Prices (Day Ticket 2009)
    Adult - CLP$28.000
    Child - CLP$15.000

El Colorado Ski and Snowboard Terrain

Many international racing teams use El Colorado as a training ground, and to some degree this sums up the predominant characteristics of El Colorado skiing and snowboarding terrain.

The main front face (south west face) has perfect fall line groomers and a big vertical drop. This face includes lots of bunny slopes for beginners and intermediates. El Colorado ski area is treeless and the main face is largely devoid of any other terrain features. Combined with the cone- shape of the mountain, there’s very little diversity in the terrain and many of the runs feel the same as the next one.

The ski terrain wraps around the cone to the east with the Cono Este and Valle Olympico area. This southeast face is on the leeward side of the mountain and it tends to capture all the powder. Cono Este has some interesting terrain features and is ideal for advanced riders, whilst Los Pioneros lift services runs suitable for the confident intermediate off-piste rider.

El Colorado - Interconnected With Valle Nevado and La Parva

El Colorado is interconnected with Valle Nevado and La Parva ski resorts for riders of strong intermediate ability and above. The connections between the resorts are not always open if weather or avalanche conditions do not permit certain lifts operating.

Unfortunately the Tres Valles ski resorts don’t work together well to create an appropriately priced all-resort lift ticket, so most visitors don’t ski between the resorts anyhow. The cost for a dual lift ticket costs about the same as buying two separate passes which can be frustrating if you only want to use one lift at El Colorado to get over to Valle Nevado.

See El Colorado travel page for information on getting between the Tres Valles ski resorts by road.

Lifts

El Colorado prides itself on having more lifts than its neighbours, which is rather amusing considering how bad the lift system is. Of the 19 lifts only 4 are chair lifts. These are painfully slow so the racers must find it frustrating to speed down the hill yet go up so slowly. And with lift queues present on the weekends, it must be really frustrating!

The Leon triple chair is poorly designed and dongs you on the head if you don’t remain in a crouch position as it approaches. Many of the lifts on the front face run parallel to each other, so they are a bit superfluous unless it’s a busy weekend. And on weekdays, even when the weather is good they don’t necessarily open all the lifts which limits access to some areas.

Some of the T-bars are perilous to ride. The T-bar up Cono Este is a black run in itself because often it’s very bumpy and commonly on camber. The only grooming under the T-bar line is done by a skier with a small rake behind them!

El Colorado Snow and Weather Conditions

The ski area is very exposed and the many ugly lines of wind fences are an indication of the frequent windy conditions. The wind commonly scours the west face and leaves bare patches.

Like other South American ski resorts, the quality of the snow is incredibly variable. Our experience was that the powder on the front face was heavy and like concrete by the end of the day. Without steep gradients, only the fattest of skis would get some momentum in this “powder”. The powder quality is generally much better on the protected southeast face.

Once the melt-freeze cycle starts, the groomers are the place to play, although the grooming is far from world-class with many shoddy seams evident.

El Colorado only receives 5 metres of snowfall a season and this is supplemented by snowmaking on some of the trails.

For the Beginner

El Colorado is a fantastic mountain for beginners with lots and lots of trails at both Farellones and El Colorado. At El Colorado ski area, most of the green trails are on the lower parts of the mountain.

El Colorado is popular with families because of the abundance of beginner terrain that is close to accommodation. The ski-in ski-out convenience of some of the accommodations is also a bonus.

Intermediate Ski and Board Terrain

Even though only 20 percent of the terrain is officially rated as intermediate, El Colorado is incredibly ideal for intermediates as most of the groomed red runs are also appropriate for intermediates. With consistent pitch and wide groomed runs on perfect fall-line, this is a great place to work on the turns.

Terrain Park

El Colorado has a terrain park that’s reasonably well maintained and because it’s near the base, the T-bars that access the park are rarely closed due to weather. The terrain park has hits for beginner and intermediate shredders including boxes, kickers, and rails, but no pipe. There’s also an urban snowpark that has features such as stairs and wall rides.

Advanced Skiing El Colorado

Forty percent of the terrain is statistically for advanced and expert riders, but the statistic includes the red runs which are really just for confident intermediates. So alas, there’s not much advanced in-bounds terrain with the southeast face being the only good place to play, and on a powder day this is completely ripped up by 10am, even on a weekday.

There are a few rock formations to the skiers’ right of the Cono Este T-bar which keep things a bit interesting. Keep an eye on the line you need to take to get back to one of the T-bars. For mogul lovers, the best bumps are usually found on the runs near the Cornisa lift. Luckily for your knees, anti-inflammatory pharmaceuticals are readily available in Chile!

Expert Riding and Backcountry

Even though the black runs at El Colorado are called expert runs, there really aren’t any expert slopes in-bounds. The real joy for experts is in the backcountry between El Colorado and Valle Nevado.

One very challenging area is between the Farellones Embudo lift and the Falso Embudo (aka False Funnel). The Falso Embudo is marked on the trail map but it’s out of bounds. If there’s inadequate snow cover at this low elevation, stay up near the Cono Este area in the backcountry area that leads down to the Valle Nevado road. There is some amazing snow and terrain in this area, but with many unskiable cliffs, an appropriate line needs to be very carefully scoped out.

The best way to explore this area is with a guide. Base Camp in Farellones can hook you up with a guide and give you the latest on the status of the area. Otherwise you may want to head on a multi-resort ski tour such as the High Andes Adventure that includes backcountry guiding.

Valle Nevado controls much of this Santa Teresa area because an avalanche would compromise their road. Nevertheless extreme avalanche caution needs to be exercised. The other complication of riding down to the road is getting back to either El Colorado or Valle Nevado. Hitchhiking is possible but as the road is sometimes one-way traffic only, you’ll need to get your timing right.

There have been recent reports that riding this Santa Teresa (aka Santa Teresita) area is considered illegal and that the police have been stopping people as they approach the road.