Villarica Lifts & Terrain

Our Terrain Ratings

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

Our Terrain Ratings

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

  • Vertical (m)
    1,200 – 2,100 (900)
  • Average Snow Fall
    10.2  metres
  • Lifts (6-7)
  • Ski Hours
    9:00am - 5:00pm
    early July - mid Oct
  • Terrain Summary
    Runs – 17
    Advanced/Expert - 30/20%
    Intermediate - 30%
    Beginner - 20%

Pucon Villarrica Ski and Snowboard Terrain

Like a classic volcano, the terrain is mellow near the base and it increases in pitch further up the mountain. Beyond that, it’s somewhat difficult to describe the terrain of the Pucon Ski Resort. The actual ski resort has the potential to have 6-7 lifts, 17 piste runs, and 900 metres of lift-accessed vertical. However in reality, for most of winter some of the lifts remain closed, caked in ice and snow, looking very unloved. This shrinks the ski resort down to nothing more than a handful of bunny slopes, whilst the upper reaches of the “ski resort” become backcountry terrain, only accessible under human steam. And high above the resort is the lure of the crater of Volcan Villarrica.

Lifts

The official Ski Pucon statistics state that there are 6 lifts, yet there are 7 lifts on the trail map. This starts to give you some idea about the problem with the lifts! Furthermore, the lifts are numbered 1 to 9, although amusingly number 4 and 6 don’t exist anymore and no one had the heart to renumber the lifts. A couple of other lifts should be made defunct because they don’t bother to open them during winter, and are at varying stages of disrepair.

The bottom double chair lift (Juncalillo or number 9) provides access from the base building up to the mid-mountain day lodge, and it also services a long beginner trail. On any given day the resort might also have one to two T-bars open, and on a busy day they might even get around to opening the little double chair lift.

The top lift is very rarely open and is largely for the summer climbing trade, which explains why the resort would consider putting in a chair lift in the upper reaches of a ski area renowned for incredibly windy conditions, instead of surface lifts. Shame really….

Lift Tickets

Lift tickets for adults in high season are somewhat expensive considering the lack of lifts on offer, and surprisingly the kids’ lift tickets are not significantly cheaper. In addition to full day and half day tickets, you can also purchase a one ride ticket on the Juncalillo lift to get up to the day lodge.

Pucon Snow and Weather Conditions

The weather is not kind to the Villarrica Volcano during winter and it’s particularly unfriendly to the ski resort which seems to be situated on the windiest part of the volcano. The ski resort slopes also have a northerly aspect so the sun gets baked by the sun, so whilst Ski Pucon gets large volumes of snow and lovely powder sometimes, the quality of the snow is highly variable. It also rains at the ski resort not infrequently, and if the puelche winds hit (warm easterly winds), the snow becomes cactus!

So between the wind and foggy weather, it’s easy to see why the ski resort is often closed, and of course sometimes it has to close due to a bit of occasional volcano rumbling!

For the Beginner

The slope serviced by the Juncalillo lift is perfect for beginners, and the lower 3/4s is below treeline so it’s protected from the elements. Lifts 1 and 7 also service beginner slopes, and these are wide open, mellow and perfect for learning. Their proximity to the day lodge adds a sense of security and parents can easily watch their little ones on the green slopes from the comfort of the deck.

For the Intermediate

Lifts 2, 3 and 8 provide access to a handful of intermediate groomed runs that are lovely and wide. However check the resort report in the morning to see if these lifts are running before heading up.

Terrain Park

A small terrain park was set up when we visited which included a few small jumps and a series of berms, but it wasn’t groomed or well maintained and it looked more like lumps of snow than a terrain park. Of course if the upper lifts were open, the natural halfpipes and cornices would be far far superior!

Advanced & Expert Skiing Pucon

If all the lifts were open, Ski Pucon would be an amazing ski resort. In between some of the piste runs are large natural halfpipes carved out by the ultimate Pipe Monster, the volcano! The natural features include cornices, lips and mounds to leap off, as well as a few little cliff jumps. If only the lifts were open……

If you’re willing to earn your turns, you’ll have little competition for freshies in this area.

Backcountry

You can happily plan in the upper reaches of the resort, which effectively become the backcountry. When we visited there were a few large cracks in the snow and it didn’t appear that the resort did any avalanche control, so usual precautions with the backcountry apply.

Of course the main attraction of Villarrica is to head to the top. You’ll want a guide to do this because there are some crevasses, there are the usual dangers associated with a very active volcano, and unless you’ve got the right creds and permission to climb solo you may be stopped. You’ll need crampons and an ice axe (and possibly also a gas mask!!) and there’s a control point to check you have the right equipment.

The randonee/skinning ascent of 1,600 metres of elevation gain to the top (depending on whether the chair lift/s are working) takes 3 to 6 hours depending on which lifts are open, your fitness, and how brutal the wind is. Many of the slopes have gradients of 20-25 degrees, and short sections have steep pitches. Only the last part of the ascent is a fraction tricky. The trudge up the hill is very rewarding because the views across the surrounding mountains and down to the lakes is spectacular, but the main drawcard is to peer into crater to check out the lava action.

There are various options for lines on the way down, all of them super long!