Cerro Catedral Ski Resort has the most modern resort base in South America, including a shopping mall and accommodation options with more than 5,000 beds within walking distance to the main lifts. Access is a paved road (not as common as you would think in Argentina) with a variety of easy transportation options both from nearby San Carlos de Bariloche and the Bariloche airport (airport code BRC). Bariloche itself is a fun tourist city with great restaurants, nightlife and once off the busy main avenues, stunning Patagonia scenery.
Depending on the time in the ski season you visit, Cerro Catedral’s ski center can be quite busy as it is one of the most popular resorts in South America. It is known as the place to ski and snowboard in Patagonia. If you want to ski Bariloche, we recommend August and early September.
With over 17 years guiding here, PowderQuest knows how to move around the Bariloche ski areas to avoid the crowds, make the most of the resort on a powder day and navigate the complicated maze of cat tracks. It’s one of our most popular stops on our guided trips due to the fun in-bounds snowboard and ski terrain filled with sweeping open powder bowls and quality groomed runs, plus it is one of the few South American ski resorts with serious tree skiing. Outstanding access to extensive backcountry terrain including a remote hut system for extended overnight trips.
The section of the Andes mountain range surrounding Bariloche is nothing short of stunning. The granite Cathedral spires for which the resort is named (Catedral in spanish) are similar to the mountains around France’s Chamonix; and the views across the National Park Nahuel Huapi, toward 3,554m Mt. Tronador; downtown and across the Andes towards Chile’s lake region, are simply incredible.
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: Get down and boogie with Brazilian and Argentine tourist until 6am but don’t forget to get up early because this beast can get crowded and you’ll need a head start to get away from the savy locals. Refugio Frey is just that, a refuge from the crowds most of the ski season and awesome couloir skiing.
Mo Rasiah: Try and beat the locals to Laguna. If not the finger couloirs are nearby. Watch out for the bamboo or you could be in for a long bushwack! the locals favorites Palmeras and Segunda Lomo are also great runs, you just gotta time them right. The apres scene is not too be missed, as is watching the hoards of school kids learning how to ski in one piece suits from the 1980’s.
Terrain – freestyle
The Catedral terrain park in the Nubes zone is one of the most progressive and established ski and snowboard parks in all of South America. A dedicated lift and a full time staff of both grooming and snow park specialists have helped develop this park into one of the best. There are features and sections for all abilities from those just being introduced to terrain parks all the way to skiers and riders looking to push the limits of the sport.
A full calendar of skiing and snowboarding events assures there is almost always action to watch through both night time contests at the base area to globally recognized series taking place in the park.
Terrain – experts
Experts have a range of off-piste options as well as backcountry chutes and bowls and hikes including Refugio Frey Hut, for backcountry ski touring and splitboarding. The Southern side of the mountain offers excellent hikes to the steep chutes, bowls and cliff bands of Punta Nevada and La Laguna on the resorts backside.
To access the best terrain, be sure to go with a certified ski guide in Bariloche such as one of our PowderQuest adventures or if you are traveling solo, understand the current snowpack and weather, always carrying avalanche safety equipment. Cell phone service is spotty once out of the resort.
Terrain – Intermediates
A large portion of the resort is dedicated to intermediate skiers and snowboarders, and the staff does an average job on their grooming to keep the pistes running throughout the season. Off the piste you can practice your skills in a mix of packed powder and of course fresh pow after a storm.
Suggested trip for intermediates Ski Progression Adventure
Snowboarding Bariloche? A note to those looking to snowboard Catedral. There tends to be quite a bit of traversing involved to get to certain zones on the mountain, so be prepared. The lift operators are strict about using a snowboard leash. No shirt, no shoes, no leash? No dice!
Beginners and non-skiers
There is plenty of playing to be done at this resort. You can take a lesson, rent snowbikes, or go tubing. Aside from that, just take in the amazing views across the lakes and mountain ranges or enjoy yourself in the shopping mall or plaza at the base. Non skiers can also take the tram to have lunch at a refugio up on the mountain to fully experience and enjoy the breathtaking views from high on the mountain. If you prefer to stay downtown, there are endless things to do in Bariloche from shopping, people watching, touring the local cafes and chocolate shops, or taking it easy around the central plazas.
Of all the resorts in South America, Catedral has one of the most international feels. There is a huge variety of après options, packed event schedule filled with unique events like snow polo and fireworks displays, spa options and nightlife both at the base and in the city. July is the busiest month. Bariloche ski season runs from June to October.
Value and ticket prices
One of the more expensive ski resort lift tickets in Argentina however due to the huge amount of terrain that can be accessed, we find it to balance out in comparison to some of the smaller resorts.
Ski Resort Location: 12 miles from San Carlos de Bariloche, Patagonia Argentina
Elevation: 1,050m (3,445ft) to 2,050m (6,725ft)
Ski Resort Vertical Drop: 1,000m (3,280ft)
Ski Resort Inbound Terrain: Close to 1500 skiable acres, with a total of 120 km in runs and cat roads.
Ski Lifts: 38 with a mix of six-packs, cuads, doubles, t-bars, disk surface lifts, a gondola.
Off-Piste and Backcountry Access: Excellent
Annual Snowfall: 300 inches (over 760 cm)
Bariloche Ski Season: You can ski Catedral from June to October
Ski and Snowboard Park: Yes
Night Life: One of the best scenes in South America