Words simply cannot describe some of the ski and snowboard terrain found in Las Lenas, Argentina.
With more skiable terrain than Whistler, Las Leñas ski resort offers fun skiing for beginners to experts with a layout of 14 ski lifts and vast out of bounds. The incredible part is the Marte chairlift, servicing terrain that has become a mecca for extreme skiing and snowboarding. From the steep bowl directly under the Marte chair, to Eduardo’s 48-degree Couloir, and literally hundreds of chutes 40-50 degree plus, some people have said they would give up every chairlift in South America for Marte!
Throw in the snowcat cat skiing tours, and easy backcountry ski touring and splitboarding access, you are in paradise for steep terrain junkies looking for the ultimate Andean buzz thriller.
If you still have legs after a day on the mountain, Argentina’s famous late night bar and disco scene live strong here in the Las Leñas Valley. It is not uncommon to see folks pouring out of the discotheque as you are about to make your first powder turns of the day! This leaves the entire resort crowd free for hours.
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 decade figuring out!
Maxi Artoni: The mythical Las Lenas Marte chair. 3,000 ft runs back to the chairlift. Some of the world best lift accessed skiing…when it is running. Then there is the backcountry. Spicy couloirs, alpine ramps, super spines. The party scene is almost as unforgiving. Many have missed a great ski day. Plan your partying for your down days or you will regret it!
Maxwell Gaal: When I first arrived to snowboard Las Leñas, I quickly realized it has some of the most amazing terrain in Argentina. At this fun and friendly resort one can find everything from steeps and “gnarliness” to park laps and cruisers. Once you have made it up the Marte chair you are rewarded with and incredible 360 degree view of the volcanoes that make up the Andes. Let’s not forget about the incredible ride down for some “panchos con lluvia de papas”. For those with a taste for vino tinto, Las Leñas is also conveniently located just a few hours from Argentina’s famous wine region of Mendoza.
Terrain – freestyle
The Snowpark is located near the TK Minerva lift in the center of the resort. Overall it’s a pretty basic park, designed for beginner to advanced intermediate skiers and snowboarders. The zone host several boxes, rainbows, rails, and a few small to medium size hits to air it out. Opens daily, weather permitting, from 10-3.
Terrain – experts
By now everybody knows that Las Lenas is the sickest resort in the Southern Hemisphere, with enough vertical and lift-serviced terrain to keep you busy for years ‐ Josh Howell
Off-piste options are absolutely huge and advanced riders will find hundreds of chutes and bowls, some of the best lift accessed terrain in the Andes, if not the planet. Many of these lines filter you right back into the resort so running laps on some of the best lines of your life are a true possibility when the conditions are right and you know where to go.
If you do not know where you are going its important to know that several chutes do not have exits. Others cliff out requiring mandatory air or a sketchy hike back out. We cannot express the importance of knowing where you are going and to always ride with avalanche safety equipment; shovel, probe, transceiver, and a partner you can trust. We highly recommend to join a guided tour with certified ski guides or hire a guide through the ski and snowboard school once you are there.
The Marte Chairlift
Most of the best terrain is location off the famous Marte double chair and the runs are long. Some of our favorite steep leg burners are Eduardo’s, Paraiso, El Collar and even the Marte Bowl running under the chair. As mentioned above, the options are world class and if you hit it right, it could be the best skiing or snowboarding of your life with over 15 miles of skiable runs.
It’s important to note Marte does close due to anything from high winds, avalanche danger, unusually cold temperatures or for no apparent reason at all, known as the “A-Factor”. When Marte closes, so does a good amount of the advanced and expert terrain. Other resorts occasionally have lift closure issues as well but do not affect us as much as a Marte closure. When Marte does close, they often open up snowcat accessed terrain for our guests and there are hiking options off the Neptuno chair.
Joining a PowderQuest guided trip to Las Lenas resort you have priority lift line access which is a huge value as the line on Marte can get quite long.
The Backcountry Access
For backcountry terrain, the split boarding and ski touring options are truly endless. Ski bums, film crews, and pro athletes spend seasons here skiing Las Lenas legendary backcountry and exploring the mountains toward Chile. Some living in high end apartments and hotels, others in their cars or snow caves hidden up valley. Maps and guidebooks have been written covering the lines in and out of the extensive ski area.
Leaving the ski area boundary requires you sign a form with the patrol. They will generally ask for your passport number and where you are staying. If you only have a week or two to ski South America, we suggest a guided trip to experience the best terrain and maximize your time enjoying it.
Terrain – Intermediates
While the resort is know internationally for big steep slopes and off-piste, Las Lenas skiing and snowboarding for intermediates is quite good and a popular destination for families of varied abilities. The intermediate runs are nice and wide, with a good pitch. Even the Marte Chair offers long cruisers, and you will be rewarded with amazing views of the Las Lenas Valley and beyond.
The ski and snowboard school has quality multi-lingual instructors many with international experience in Aspen, Vail, and Andora.
Beginners and non-skiers
The base area just off the village has several Poma lifts, a good area for beginners, and the slopes are low angle and wide. The school offers group and private lessons for beginners.
For non-skiers, there is a small shopping section in Piramide to pick up some over priced gifts, a casino, or the Piscis Hotel and Spa to spend the day relaxing. However a week in the Valley would get quite stale for non-skiers. If you have non-skiers in your group, and they are not interested in taking lessons, we would suggest one of the northern Patagonia towns of San Martin, Villa La Angostura or Bariloche to base your vacation. Great non-ski activities and the ski resorts are just a short 20-25 minute transfer from town.
The small village, built in the early 80′s offers a bus line to access the shops in Centro Comercial La Piramide (Higher end shopping can be found in the Hotels Piscis, Virgo and Aires), the casino, restaurants, hotels, and nightlife. Most places are also within walking distance.
For Las Lenas lodging, the Piscis, Escorpio and Aires hotels are the best options. Should you prefer an apartment, there is a small, expensive market to pick up snacks, or to cook in your kitchenette, but most of the Las Lenas hotels have their own restaurants with good food and outstanding red wine options, including Argentina’s popular Malbec.
Hotel Piscis has a high end spa, with a heated pool, Jacuzzi and sauna. Massages are also available upon reservation, with priority given to hotel guests.
The only night skiing in Argentina is in Las Lenas, maybe worth a few runs just to say you went, but it’s located on the beginner terrain so unless you are just getting started, it’s best to save the legs for tomorrow.
Nightlife can be pretty outstanding and runs very late. Some of the bars and discos do not get going until 2 A.M. and do not close until 6:00 A.M., packed with beautiful Argentines and Brazilians dancing and sipping Fernet y Coca-Cola. It’s tough to balance the partying and skiing, but with an afternoon and popular bitter stimulant Yerba Mate (similar to green tea), you can probably find a good balance.
The good news is many of the lifts turn until 5 P.M. and there generally is not a huge rush in the morning to get first chair, unless it’s a bluebird powder day. Even then you need to be patient as the resort can take awhile to get things open after a fresh snowfall.
Resort Stats and Info
Ski Resort Location: 43 miles from airport and town of Malargue, Mendoza Province of Argentina
Elevation: 2,240m (7,349ft) at the base to 3,340m (11,253ft)
Vertical Drop: 1,190m (3,904ft)
Inbound Terrain: 15% Beginner, 45% Intermediate, 35% Advanced, 5% Expert plus endless off piste and backcountry to explore
Ski Lifts: 14
Top lodging options: Piscis Hotel, Escorpio Hotel, Airies Hotel, Virgo Hotel
Off-Piste and Backcountry Access: Excellent
Heli-ski: No, but cat skiing is offered
Ski touring in Las Lenas: endless options from short day trips to overnighters
Annual Snowfall: 250 Inches (635 cms)
Ski Season: June to October
Ski and Snowboard Park: Yes
Night Life: Some of the best in South America