On June 5 El Colorado, located 1.5 hours from Santiago, Chile and part of the interconnected 3 Valleys ski area, was the first ski resort to be open this year in South America. Why open so early while the other resorts don't plan to open until June 13? Powder, or here as we call, it nieve onda. With over 3 feet of snow you could not have asked for a better start for conditions on the first day of El Colorado's very special 60th anniversary year last week. This meant a lot of shoveling late May to get the resort ready, but mountain staff were motivated to make it happen and help El Colorado boast to be the first resort open this year. While El Colorado is generally more known for its grooming, terrain park, and race training, it actually has some of the steepest chutes, bowls and couloirs in South America accessed out of bounds down to the road back to Farellones and up to Valle Nevado. This is, however, only advisable with a driver and a guide as two things can go wrong: being easily cliffed out with no exit, or the second waiting over 3 hours in the dark for a ride back close to your accommodation. Both happened to this writer in 2007 and I can assure you it is not a good time and why you came to ski in South America, let alone anywhere. Some companies that offer these guided days are Casa, Powderquest and SouthAmericaSki.com. One of the great new options in 2008 for the solo traveler on more of a budget, and also looking to meet up and ride with other people while staying at the base of El Colorado, is the shared accommodation option offered by 3ValleysChile.com.