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Late Season Storm Sets Up Fantastic Andes FWQ finale

The mountain rises from the soft, rolling volcanic hills below. A snow-capped beast that is alluring and dangerous and beautiful and – on the right day – generous and kind. The road takes you closer and closer, though sudden valleys with streams and lakes and fields with horses. As you get closer, the landscape changes, becoming more raw, complex and interesting, and above you, always, the mountain. Waiting, watching, omnipresent.

Corralco sits at the end of the road. Small, with the kind of intimacy that’s sadly lacking at most ski areas in North America, it’s a welcoming sight at the end of the journey, the lodge surrounded by an Araucaria forest, the ancient trees wonderful and beautiful and prehistoric.

Photo: The road to Corralco takes travelers through scenic rural landscapes, with Lonquimay volcano always beckoning skiers and snowboards with its snow-covered landscape.

The mountain, Lonquimay, is a ancient volcano. It’s been here long before men and women slide down its velvety slopes and it will remain long after civilization cashes in the chips. Time is measured here in hundreds of years, the Araucaria trees thousands of years old and the mountain even older. It’s why, perhaps, that at Corralco time slows for humans as well, and it becomes easier to connect with both friends and nature, to move at a slower pace, awaking with the sun and savoring the rhythms of the planet.

Because of its size, Lonquimay catches storms. Snowfall can be sudden and unexpected here, and accumulations are often measured in meters. And it was one of these weather events that hit the mountain hard at the end of September, forcing the postponement of the scheduled 2* Freeride World Qualifying event to October 13.

Photo: Corralco ski area sits on the flanks of Lonquimay, and features plenty of wide-open powder fields for freeriding in powder.

Whether you think that the postponement is a problem depends, of course, on your point of view. For some, it’s an inconvenience, a hassle, a screwed up situation. And, if you march to the rhythms of the city, with the predictable traffic of rush hour and the pre-determined hours of mandated cubicle occupancy and all the other wonderful trappings of  “civilization”, then perhaps freeriding and Corralco are not for you.

But for those who understand that Nature will do as she wishes, and that the moods and whims of the planet are something to be celebrated and adapted to, then this storm was a blessing. Fortunately most skiers and snowboarders – particularly freeriders – understand this.

Photo: Ancient Araucaria forests surround Corralco and Lonquimay. The landscapes are unique to this part of the Andes and provide everlasting memories for those who are lucky enough to visit this part of the world

That’s why the massive storm that hit Corralco at the end of September was a beautiful thing. The mountain, now whiter than ever, awaits the revised October date. The event crew at Freeride Chile has proven flexible and professional, and the rescheduled event now has the potential for interesting new venues thanks to all that snow. And the vibe is, like always at Corralco, positive.

We always like to run events as scheduled due to athlete travel plans and other logistics,” admits Freeride Chile’s Fernando Ochagavia. “But sometimes you just have to let the mountain and the weather do its thing. We are really excited about the new October dates, we’ve lowered the inscription cost and we’re going to throw a really good party.”

Photo: As always, FWQ events are more than just a chance to earn points to compete on the Freeride World Tour.
Lifetime friendships and special memories are perhaps the most important part of every event.

New venues, new snow and a big party at one of the most spectacular spots in the Andes? That’s a beautiful thing.

What you need to know:

Entry fees for the last Andes FWQ competition of the year have been reduced to $80 (all FWQ athletes will need a single or season-long athlete license to compete). New event dates are October 13 to 15.