An hour away from the hustle of Cerro Catedral in Bariloche, the Cerro Bayo Ski Resort is the complete opposite experience – it’s a small ski center, minimal crowds, with 13 lifts, including 2 gondolas and 22 pistes (groomed slopes). With the 2013 opening of the Cumbre Gondola, there has been an expansion of over 200 hectares (500 acres) of off-piste terrain to explore, previously only accessible by hiking or ski touring. It is important to note the gondola does not always operate due to winds, power grid issues or just simply the “Argentine Factor”.
Cerro Bayo was built up as a small, family-run resort by Belgian, Jean Pierre Raemdonck. In 2007, the same year that it hosted the 2nd South American Ski Mountaineering Championship, it was sold to a private investment group.
Now marketed as an upscale “boutique” resort, it has a way to go and still retains the rustic feel that we found 15 winters ago. For years, Cerro Bayo has been talking of a plan of expansion and additional investment, including rumors of a well needed paved access road, a gondola from the town of Villa La Angostura and more lift accessed terrain expanding into the off-piste Provinciales zone. However to date, it all seems to be a lot of false promises.
Currently there are 6 places to eat on the mountain. 2 at the base area and 4 at 1500 meters.
There are runs that take you all the way through the treeline, and a 6 km panoramic trail where you can take in the amazing views of the nearby Nahuel Huapi Lake. The real jewel of Cerro Bayo is the easily accessed backcountry with steep bowls and some of the best tree runs in South America amid spectacular virgin forests.
Here are some insider tips and ideas from our ski guides and locals that know the terrain and resorts like no other.
Important: Many of the areas described involve riding in non controlled avalanche terrain. Know your stuff, carry the right equipment and be smart. If you have any doubts, or even if you don’t, come join us on a PowderQuest guided tour. We will take you to the best skiing available with nothing for you to do but to enjoy what we have spent the last 2 decades figuring out!
Phil Gautier: The new gondola project has opened some steep skiing and bring Cerro Belvedere and Inacayal closer for some real lines in Patagonia. Locally made chocolate and ice cream is best enjoyed after a huge asado at any of the local grills in town.
Mo Rasiah: Some of the greatest views Patagonia has to offer. Provinciales, Inacayal, Cerro Belvedere are all amazing. Alpine lines and Patagonian tree skiing at its best, but heads up for the bamboo!
The village of Villa La Angostura
The ski area is just a 15 minute drive away from the small Argentinean town of Villa La Angostura, which is a quiet touristic village, close to the Chilean border, 1 hour from the Bariloche airport and just 2 hours away from San Martin de Los Andes.
Villa La Angostura has a mix of high end shops to pick up some unique Patagonian gifts. The village also has dozens of hotels and cabins ranging from basic to 5 star. For such a small town the restaurant options are outstanding. Some of Argentina’s top chefs have relocated here, and have opened an impressive series of slow-food style restaurants. For those on a budget, you can find inexpensive pizza, grills, empanadas and sandwich bars offering quality local food at a fair price.
Terrain – freestyle
As well as a nice beginner’s park located on run 18 featuring beginners rails, boxes and airs, the main terrain park for intermediates to experts sits between the trees and has the nice addition of beanbags and sofas for relaxing and listing to fresh tunes.
Terrain – experts
Another gem tucked away in Patagonia. Cerro Bayo’s tree runs and easy to access backcountry bowls are some of the best around when the conditions are right. A short gondola ride (when operating) will get you to the increasing popular off-piste zone, Provinciales.
If you want to get further out and into some true backcountry it is advised to go with a certified ski guide. You won’t be fighting for fresh tracks here and most of the slack country and backcountry runs loop back into the basin of the resort as long as you know the exit.
Terrain – Intermediates
Intermediate skiers and riders will find a trail system and a mix of on and off-piste terrain from wide open slopes to glades and tighter tree runs through the Lenga forest. The Cerro Bayo snowboard and ski schools offer certified local instructors.
Beginners and non-skiers
The ski center has a small zone for beginner skiers and snowboarders located at mid mountain, known as 1500. Based in the trees with outstanding views of the surrounding national parks, its an unforgettable place to learn to slide on snow. Not skiing? As well as snowshoeing, the resort hosts a few unusual activities for spectators such as snow-polo (yes, with horses) and extreme rugby.
Value and ticket prices
Once the term “boutique ski resort” was pegged to the name, the prices shot up to the range of Chapelco and Cerro Catedral.
Ski Resort Location: Outside the town of Villa La Angostura in Patagonia, Argentina
Elevation: 1,050m (3,445 ft) to 1,805m (5,922 ft)
Vertical Drop:: 755 m (2,477 ft)
Inbound Terrain: 25 Runs with 14 km of skiable groomed slopes.
Ski Lifts: 13 chair, surface lifts, and gondolas
Hotels and Lodging: Numerous options in Villa La Angostura
Off-Piste and Backcountry Access: Excellent
Annual Snowfall: 350 inches (890 cms)
Weather: This is Patagonia! 4 seasons/day. Come prepared.
Ski Season: June to October
Ski and Snowboard Park: Yes, 2 parks
Night Life: The city has a decent mix of bars, discos