With 720 meters of vertical drop, the Patagonian resort starts above the treeline and leads into some nice old-growth forest runs. Easy access into the steep backcountry bowls make for unforgettable days in the Southern Andes. You can snowboard and ski Chapelco from June to early October as it gets between 7 and 9 meters of snow a season.
New owners recently installed several new services including a chairlift that increases speed from the base to mid mountain, and the resort has a high-speed quad and gondola. In 2015 a new quad chair is being installed in the Pradera del Puma, Cerro Mocho zone. This infrastructure is reflected in the slightly higher ticket prices than nearby Cerro Bayo. Future expansion looks to push deeper into the back bowl creating more expert lift-accessed terrain currently accessed on our guided trips.
The resort is kid and beginner-friendly too, with magic carpets and gentle slopes for those just starting out. One of the best things about the resort is the nearby town of San Martin, kind of like a tourist’s Swiss ski village in the Argentinean Andes, complete with rows of shops selling handmade chocolates and a great selection of shopping, bars, and of course steak restaurants.
Hotels in San Martin range from budget log cabins to high end superior bed and breakfasts with quality spas.
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!
Maxi Artoni: On stormy days jump out of bounds and ski the trees all the way lookers right, you can reach them from any of the quad chairs. It’s a short pitch but fun. As soon as the sun comes out do a few laps on “El Mallin” chair on Cerro Teta, then take the poma “Del Filo” and jump into “La Pala” if the stability is right as you need to ski through some big terrain traps to get out of there. If the sun baked all the north side skiing and you feel like going for a short walk check out the south side of the mountain, snow there stays good for longer but is also major avalanche terrain.
Phil Gautier: The resort put a cat track in for a quick lap on the south side but beware, this is serious avalanche terrain. In town you’ll find great local cold cuts and you must try the trout, the wild boar and venison.
Terrain – freestyle
Freestylers looking to snowboard and ski San Martin can’t go wrong at the Chapelco SnowPark. Home of the Roxy and Quicksilver Snow Jams, boxes, rails, and kickers are set up for different riding levels and generally good tunes are playing throughout the day. The park is open, weather permitting from 10 to 4 daily.
Terrain – experts
As far as finding steep terrain, with the exception of some tree runs to riders left of the resort, most of the better zones are out of bounds and require avalanche safety equipment and notifying the ski patrol of your plans.
The back bowls are outstanding offering a mix of open bowls where you can see your line from top to bottom to tight gnarly chutes with some mandatory airs. It is paramount that you go with someone that knows the terrain and safe way out. On a good day you can do 6-10 laps back here with each hike out lasting about 20-30 minutes. See the video section on this page to get an idea of how amazing this terrain can be.
Terrain – Intermediates
This might just be the best intermediate ski resort in Argentina. If you are looking to ski and snowboard Chapelco this summer, as an intermediate or advanced skier or snowboarder you have a large amount of slopes and off-piste terrain to explore, including some beautiful tree runs. The trees are nicely spaced out and are not too steep. The resort also has one of the best ski schools in the Andes.
Suggested trip for intermediates Ski Progression Adventure in Argentina
Beginners and non-skiers
There is a well recognized ski school here with level 3 Engish speaking ski and snowboard instructors. Beginner runs are wide and perfect for learning.
For those visiting that do not ski, you can enjoy the views of the stunning Lanin Volcano or go dog sledding with the huskies. In town, you can spend the day shopping, sipping delicious coffees and sampling the chocolates that makes San Martin so popular.
Ski Resort Location:Town of San Martin de Los Andes Northern Patagonia and Lake District of Argentina
Elevation: 1,250m (4,100ft) to 1,970m (6,463ft)
Ski Resort Vertical Drop:: 720m (2,363ft)
Ski Resort Inbound Terrain: : 30 Runs
140% Beginner, 30% Intermediate, 15% Advanced, 15% Expert
Ski Lifts: 12 chair and surface lifts. New Poma quad chair being installed for 2015 in Pradera del Puma y Cerro Mocho.
Hotels and Lodging: Numerous options in San Martin, 20 minutes away Learn more
Off-Piste and Backcountry Access: Excellent Join a guided trip
Annual Snowfall: 350 inches (890 cm)
Ski Season: June to October
Ski and Snowboard Park: Yes
Night Life: The city has a decent mix of bars, discos and a casino