Skiing in Patagonia. It sounds so exotic, so much more daring than “We’re off skiing in Aspen or Whistler”…. For centuries the name Patagonia has evoked a sense of mystery and adventure. A lost world at the bottom of the planet. Since the first chronicles from Magellan’s 1520 expedition reached Europe, the notion that big footed giants roamed the end of the world have tantalised imaginations. Now we know that Patagonia is one of the last pristine wildernesses we have left. Superlatives are simply not enough to describe the magnificence of the views.
Before detailing the skiing options in the region, first we must define the geographical area that is Patagonia today. With a surface area of approximately 800.000 square kilometers, Patagonia extends south of the Colorado river from 37° latitude south in Argentina; and from the city of Puerto Montt 42° south in Chile. About 70% of the population live in 20% of the territory making it one of the most sparsely populated regions on the planet. In order to completely quench your wanderlust thirst of our world, a visit to Patagonia simply cannot be omitted.
As for skiing and snowboarding Patagonia, what makes this area such a great option? Well, the weather lends itself to pretty awesome snow falls, and the dry climate in Argentina to the east of the Andes means the season is pretty long too. Adventurous skiing pioneers wandered the land in search of the perfect powder, which prompted the creation of some of the most developed ski resorts in South America. Winter in Patagonia runs from June to September, with ski season extending well into October.
Our top choices of ski resorts in Patagonia Argentina
Located in the North East of Patagonia in the province of Neuquén, Chapelco is just 20 km from the modern tourist hub of San Martin de Los Andes. The infrastructure is impressively modern and the service quality of a high standard.
The longest run is 5.3 km and the slope gradient ranges between 20 and 45. 22 trails cover more than 140 hectares (345 acres) which are fed by 10 chair and surface lifts. With a vertical drop of 720m and a max height of 1970 masl, the views from Chapelco are outstanding.
Designed with both beginners and budding pros in mind, the Freestyle snowpark is well kitted out. High quality English speaking instructors make the ski school one of the best. For intermediates and experts the off piste options at Chapelco are nothing short of outstanding. As for non-skiers, the views enjoyed over locally made chocolate slowly dissolving in hot milk after a husky dog sled ride are unmissable.
BEST TIP: for intermediate skiers this is possibly the best option in Argentina with its groomed slopes, exciting off-piste terrain and unbeatable tree runs. It also boasts the first snow based Crossfit sessions in Argentina this season! Learn more about Chapelco
Having begun life as a family run affair, Cerro Bayo is now enjoying investment from its commercial owners. A true off-the-beaten track option which offers deep dry powder and seemingly endless runs, despite being dubbed “an upscale boutique resort”, you will not find crowds here.
Located just 15 minutes from Villa La Angostura in the Neuquén province of Argentina, accommodation and eatery options in the town stand out for their quality and innovation. As do the spectacular views of Nahuel Huapi Lake.
25 runs dissect the 500 hectares (1235 acre) of the ski resort, the longest of which is a cool 6 km. 13 lifts include 2 gondolas, one of which reaches the top of the mountain, provide easy access to the pistes. The vertical drop is 755m and max height is 1805 masl.
Well-developed back country routes make it a pure playground for experts, while snow tubing is a popular alternative to skiing for those who are in search of something different.
BEST TIP: Cerro Bayo is the only ski resort in Patagonia, Argentina with off-piste signage. The easy access backcountry makes it a dream for budding pros, and the freestyle park is equipped with sofas and beanbags just urging you to take a break and enjoy the views! Learn more about Cerro Bayo
When you think of skiing Patagonia, this is generally the first resort to come to mind. Due to an impressive 6 million dollar investment over the last 2 years, Cerro Catedral just 12 miles from the picturesque tourist city of Bariloche is developing fast and meeting the needs of all snow lovers. With 7000 beds at the base of the ski resort, plus another 28000 in Bariloche itself, finding somewhere to sleep is not a problem. Finding the energy to run all the runs may prove more challenging!
The longest run is a whopping 9 km. There are 120 km of pistes covering the 600 hectare (1485 acre) park which is serviced by 38 ski lifts made up of six-packs, quads, doubles, t-bars, disk surface lifts and gondolas. Cerro Catedral is tremendously accessible thanks to their local airport which also means it is popular and bustling. The highest piste reaches a startling 2100 masl and the max vertical drop is 1000m.
Freestylers will love the well-established ski and snowboard park which also offers plenty of options for beginners such as lessons, snowbikes and tubing. Most of the park is dedicated to intermediates however, leaving the remote back country for the experts. Non skiers have the 360° views and the shopping mall located at the base resort to keep them entertained.
BEST TIP: All-encompassing spectacular views of the surrounding granite peaks, Nahuel Huapi National Park, the towering 3554 m high Tronador mountain, and across the Andes into Chile. Some serious tree skiing includes an impressively remote hut system which covers vast back country terrain. Learn more about Cerro Catedral
Located near the frontier town of Esquel in the province of Chubut, La Hoya is named after the wide glacier on which it is balanced over a circular basin. Discovered for its skiing potential by brave pioneers in the 1930s, by the 1950s the resort had been created. In comparison with Cerro Catedral, the slopes are relatively uncrowded, due in most part to the off-the-beaten track location.
With the longest run just over 5 km, there are 22 km of pistes covering the 60 hectare (148 acre) park. The 24 runs are fed by 10 chair and surface lifts. The max height is 1850 masl with a vertical drop of 500m.
Experts will find the off piste and backcountry simply amazing, intermediates will find a great trail system of on and off piste terrain, and beginners can take lessons in the ski school leaving non-skiers to enjoy snow shoe tours or the stunning views of the Los Alerces National Park.
BEST TIP: This has to be the unbeatable off piste skiing, as well as the Flypark which is said to be the most complete in South America. Also, the true frontier feel of town surprises as it offers some really decent accommodation options. Learn more about La Hoya
So, there we go with our run down and top tips for the coolest Patagonian ski resorts. With accessible air fares and a season that slots neatly in between that of northern hemisphere resorts, you will hardly have time to take breath before the snow begins to fall on the pistes in Aspen. For more information, vacation package availability, and Patagonia ski tours contact PowderQuest today here.