Some information on this article is based on Miles Clark’s “Why Bariloche is Really Great“.
It’s time to continue our tour all the way south. Our next stop is San Carlos de Bariloche. Home for one of the most famous ski resorts in Argentina and South America -Cerro Catedral Ski Resort-, Bariloche stands next to the cold waters of the Lake Nahuel Huapi. Sorrounded by georgous mountains and forests, this city has a population of about 115.000 people. During the winter, its becomes itself a real ski town.
Stunning views. Sick lines. Amazing forests. Insane powder. Catedral Ski Resort is a couple of minutes drive away from the city of Bariloche. With 38 lifts and 3,000 acres, Cerro Catedral has the largest lift accessed ski terrain in South America, approximately half of which is off-piste terrain. This mega ski resort has 3,510 ft of vertical drop, and 120km of slopes.
Cerro Catedral base holds at an elevation of 3,379 ft over the sea level, and its summit, at an elevation of 6,889 ft over the sea level. There is terrain for every type of skier and ski level, from begginer runs to one of the most complete terrain parks in the country, steep colouirs and powder tree skiing.
Cerro Catedral is characterized by its huge size, modern infrastructure and a great variety of possibilities when skiing the mountain. It is so versatile; it doesn’t matter the way you ski, you will for sure have fun.
Definitely, one of the best things that Catedral offers is its simple side-country access. “You ride lifts up, engage in a bit of hiking, and you’re into some killer terrain. You can opt for a shelfy cliff zone called La Laguna (very similar to some Tahoe terrain) with a quick 15-minute hike”. Also, El Filo and Segundo Lomo are great options.
If you are willing to challenge your limits, hut-ski itineraries are a thing of another world. These “refugees”, hidden up in the mountains provide access to some of the best terrain in the Andes, and are a once in a life experience. Most of them require you to either know the way or go with someone that knows it. There are several expeditions which are really worth it. The most iconic one is the Refugio Frey one. Click here if you want to read more about backcountry skiing in Bariloche.
“In bounds, Catedral’s terrain is very similar to Mammoth ski resort. Long, sloping runs with no trees at all on top, then tree-cut runs at the bottom. The main difference here being the thick swaths of bamboo that cover the forest floors of lower Catedral”.
“The old growth tree skiing in Bariloche is unparalleled. Large Lenga trees shed their leaves in the winter, have no deadly tree wells, few low branches, and have spacing that every skier will admire. Iridescent spanish moss hangs from every branch and adds to these forests’ enchantment. Downed trees create fun pillows to pop off at low snow levels.
That said, Catedral’s only drawback is its elevation. The base is 3,379 feet, the summit is 6,889 feet, and the latitude is only 41 degrees South of the equator (the equivalent of Northern California in northern hemisphere). This translates to some seasons with lots of rain down low. Which isn’t too big a problem, as all the best terrain is up high and it almost always snows up there”.
Cerro Bayo, Villa La Angostura
On the other side of Lake Nahuel Huapi, two hours driving from Bariloche, there is a little town called Villa La Angostura. There, you’ll find a tiny, boutique ski resort of only seven lifts and a few slopes: the Cerro Bayo. Argentinean president, Mauricio Macri, and the royal family of Netherlands, for example, spend their holidays at Villa La Angostura. Views from Cerro Bayo are incredible. If you are looking for a more peaceful, exclusive place, or if you want to escape for a while from Bariloche, Cerro Bayo is a great option.
45-minutes south of the bustle of Bariloche, Argentina, is a special place called Baguales Mountain Reserve. Baguales is a large cat skiing and heli skiing operation with huts, expansive terrain, unique wildlife, and nothing around for miles. The amount and variety of terrain here is impressive. This is the real Patagonia. The Patagonia you read about in books and hear about in stories. Click here if you want to read more about Baguales Mountain Reserve.
Eventhough the city of Barioche is 1,000 miles away from Buenos Aires, it’s probably the easiest one to get to.
LAN and Aerolineas Argentinas offer daily direct flights from and to Buenos Aires. Time of flight is 2:20 hs and prices start in $127 (US dollars). Be careful: Buenos Aires has two main airports: Ezeiza and Aeroparque Jorge Newbery. Both are international airports, but Ezeiza serves longer international flights, while Aeroparque serves most of domestic and border countries flights. Aeroparque Jorge Newbery is much better, as it is just a few minutes away from the center of the city. Ezeiza is one-hour away. Flights information in www.skyscanner.com.
For the same price -or sometimes even more expensive- you can find direct buses from the Retiro Bus Terminal, in Buenos Aires. But I wouldn’t recommend it. It may result very tedious to be 20 hours sitting in your seat… Anyway, you can book bus tickets at www.plataforma10.com.
Where to Sleep
The good thing about Cerro Catedral is that it’s just alongside an important city such as Bariloche. For this reason, there are hundreds of accomodation options, from small hostels down in the city to five-star ski in-out luxury hotels on the base of Cerro Catedral. In this guide we will show the best ones; if you are looking for cheaper options, you might check tripadvisor.com or booking.com. There are infinite possibilities in an incredible range of prices.
Bariloche: Llao Llao Hotel and Resort. President Obama visited Argentina a few weeks ago. And not for any reason he decided to spend an afternoon here. Llao Llao Hotel and Resort is the most exclusive hotel in Bariloche. It is located in the outskirts of the city, next to the majestic Lake Nahuel Huapi. More information here.
Cerro Catedral: Pire Hue. Located at the base of Cerro Catedral, Pire Hue is one of the best options if you’re looking for a ski in-out hotel. More information here.
Villa La Angostura: Correntoso Lake & River Resort. If you decide to visit Villa La Angostura (Cerro Bayo), then you must stay at Correntoso Resort. The picture talks for itself. More information here.
What to Do
When night falls over the lake front, the lights of the most prestigious restaurants in the Avenida Bustillo turn on. A good glass of wine and a table of smoked cheeses are excellent company for stories of an long day. In the city center, microbrews and delicious chocolates are tasted. The music starts playing with proposals for everyone: clubs open until late at night, breweries and Irish bars. In the casino, chance is accompanied by live music. Because in Bariloche, the largest city in the region of the lakes in the Andean Patagonia, all the fun of the day continues overnight.
Pistes: 74 mi
Terrain Parks: 1
Skiable Terrain: 1482 ha
Base elevation: 3,379 ft
Summit elevation: 6,889 ft
Vertical drop: 3,510 ft
For further information, you may visit the official Cerro Catedral website. If you have any doubt, don’t hesitate in contacting me.