Yesterday I was dreaming of Alaska, but for all you snow enthusiasts who can’t wait for the northern hemisphere winter and possibly feel that New Zealand and Australia are a bit too far to scratch the itch, well then, have you thought about Argentina? Or Argentina and Chile?
The Andes Mountains are blessed with unparalleled conditions for skiing and snowboarding. Argentina and Chile feature many different ski resorts divided into world class and rustic areas. In addition to classic ski resorts South America offers two snowcat skiing operations as well as four heli-skiing destinations.
Skiing and riding the most challenging terrain in the Andes Mountains – what more could you ask for? Well, perhaps some wine tasting at the same time? and why not!
Las Leñas is a haven for extreme skiers and heli-skiers – thanks to freeski73 for the great video and if you don’t understand the small amounts of French spoken, don’t worry, persevere, it’s a great video! This resort is not only about extreme skiing, it also has a good selection for beginners and intermediates.
RUNS: 28 42 km / 26 miles
It is the highest ski resort in Argentina. The summit is at 3,430m and the base of the resort is at 2,240m which gives skiers a vertical slope of 1,225m. With its unbeatable snow, its trails for all levels of skiers and especially for the world class off-piste descents and cross-country ski, this resort is considered by many to be outstanding. Las Leñas has a slalom stadium and 28 authorized trails with a maximum skiable surface of 7,050m or 46 kms, one of which is one of the longest intermediate trails in the world. There are 13 lifts and if there is not enough fresh snowfall, Las Leñas has a modern system to make artificial snow.
As for the back country trails – it’s hard to beat. Over 20,000 acres of endless powder. The best freeriding in South America. Endless opportunity for adventure.
The season stretches from June 11th to September 24th.
The closest airport is Malargue – 70 kms away.
Close to Las Leñas is Los Penitentes. Established in 1979, Los Penitentes winter resort has at present more than 300 hectares of skiable runs. There are 25 runs of different lengths and something for everyone from beginner to advanced and expert skiers. The snow is generally dry and compact.
And you can take advantage of Portillo across the border in Chile. The snow quality here is fantastic. There is also an enormous amount of unexplored back country potential.
The season runs from mid-June to late August and the closest airport is Mendoza International – 174 km away.
The top of Cerro Catedral is 2,180m and the bottom 1,030m, giving a vertical drop of 1,150 metres. This resort is considered to be the most developed one in South America. In the 600 hectares of skiable area (120 km), the resort is divided into 53 well sign-posted trails of various difficulties: 17% for beginners, 42% for intermediate, 25% advanced and 17% for expert skiers only. There are 38 lifts and good access to back country skiing. The closest airport to this resort is Bariloche International.
With 22 trails of various difficulties and excellent snow quality, Chapelco combines extreme adrenaline and landscape. It has 140 skiable hectares (32 kms) with 31% of trails for beginners, 17% for intermediate skiers, 42% advanced and 10% for expert skiers. There is also a Snowboard Park at the 1,700 m platform where adrenaline seekers can find a half pipe, parallel slalom and big air jumps.
The landscape is magnificent. The impressive view of Lake Lácar, the silence of the lengas forests and the striking presence of the Lanín Volcano breaking the horizon add to the uniqueness of this winter resort. It is open from June 23 to October 14.
The closest airport is Chapelco 19 kms away.
Cerro Bayo is another beautiful resort with magnificent scenery. It is surrounded by forests and has a majestic view of Lake Nahuel Huapi. It offers 200 hectares of pisted slopes, with a 700m vertical drop (maurigar99).
Although suitable for beginners (28% of the resort is ideal), Cerro Bayo appeals to extreme skiers with its good black runs, deep snow in the ravine and matchless off-piste runs that go through untouched forests from the summit to the base. There are 800+ acres of trails with very good back country routes too. The ski season runs from mid June to October.
The closest airport is Bariloche International: 83 km away.
Cerro Castor is truly at the end of the world, way down there in Ushuaia. It is the same distance from the South Pole as Moscow is from the North Pole. It is Argentina’s newest resort and the southern-most ski resort in the world. Although not very high it enjoys very good weather and excellent powder snow. It has one of the longest seasons in South America – from July 09 to October 12.
With a skiable drop of 772m, there are 24 runs with different levels of difficulties and 20 kms of off-piste sectors. It also has wonderful back country trails with circuits that go through lengas forests. Also ideal for snow rackets/shoes.
The closest airport is Ushuaia, 26 kms away.
Caviahue is in the heart of the Andes Mountain Range, Northwest of the Province of Neuquén and on the Argentinian-Chilean border. It lies at the feet of the Copahue Volcano. This mountain village is 1,600 m above sea level and it presents a contrast between its natural environment and the almost lunar landscape of Copahue. The ski resort guarantees the quality of powder snow without long lines at the lift making it an ideal family resort for both downhill and cross-country skiing.
The closest airport is the city of Neuquén – 353 kms away.
La Hoya is the last resort we will cover today which means we will come back to Chile another time… Standing at 1,350m above sea level its geographic location allows visitors to benefit from snow as early as the first few days of June. From the summit (2,050m) to the base there are 60 hectares of pisted slopes, with large runs for all levels although, as with all the Andes resorts, La Hoya prides itself on its selection of off-piste skiing. There are 10 lifts and 24 runs and the resort is proud of its powder snow. However, for years with poor snowfall they do have all the modern amenities to make the artificial stuff.
The name La Hoya comes from the shape of the mountain which is a wide glacier above a circular basin. All the ski runs join at the same point at the base. In the 1930’s, pioneer skiers from the region discovered this attractive natural formation and began to visit the mountain.
The closest airport is Esquel Domestic: 21 km.
And more later…