Ski areas in Chile, where the 2020 ski season should just be getting underway, have been reporting snowfalls of up to 1.2 metres (four feet) in the past few days. Valle Nevado is pictured top.
With South America currently one of the epicentres of the coronavirus-COVID-19 pandemic however, the governments of both countries have them in full lockdown, which means ski resorts can’t open.
The situation is being seen as ironic by some who note that recent seasons have seen challenging starts in the Andes due to a lack of snow. Now there’s plenty, people can’t ski due to the pandemic.
So far there’s no immediate sign of when the situation might end. The world-famous resort of Portillo, one of those to report four feet of snowfall, initially postponed its planned opening date from this weekend to July 18th, but as the lockdown continued has now said its season start is postponed indefinitely.
In the early stages of the pandemic another of the continent’s leading ski areas, Las Lenas in Argentina, announced that it would not attempt to open this winter even if the lockdown was lifted before the season started.
Its decision was believed to be based on an Argentinian government announcement early on that flights were unlikely to resume until the autumn (spring in the southern hemisphere), the end of the season there. The resort is heavily reliant on air services to bring in its guests.
Ski areas have been warning skiers and boarders to stay off their closed slopes. Chile’s Nevados de Chillan said their slopes were dangerous with no avalanche mitigation measures taken and no ski patrol to rescue anyone who might need help. Argentina’s Catedral said they were blasting to prevent avalanche danger building and that people who ventured on the closed slopes risked injury from the explosions or a triggered avalanche.