Along with Chile, Argentina is one of the two main South American ski destinations. Also like Chile it has a mixture of basic local ski centres and high calibre resort complexes – around 20 in total – initially attracting the local and international jet set, but now widening their scope to pull in dedicated northern-hemisphere skiers from all walks of life who can't face the limitations of glacier skiing for eight months of the year.
Unlike Chile, when you go to ski Argentina you’ll find the country has no major ski centres near to its major cities, although the town of Bariloche, which is closest to Cerro Catedral, has earned the nickname "Ski Town South America". Indeed with more than 40 lifts, more than half of them chairlifts and gondolas, it operates more lifts than any other ski resort on the continent and more chairlifts than any other ski area in the southern hemisphere.
Skiing in Argentina or Chile is the best choice for skiers who can cope with long haul flights but can't cope with a shortage of fresh powder snow. Along with Chile and New Zealand, Argentina ski resorts offer the best powder skiing opportunities in the Southern Hemisphere, with heliskiing available from most of the major resorts.
People began skiing in Argentina's at the first ski centre with lifts which was Catedral – although its first lift, ordered in the late 1930s from Italy, was delayed by World War 2 as the ship carrying it was lost in the Atlantic, a replacement arriving more than 10 years later.
Other ski areas, like Chapelco and Las Leñas are far more recent additions. The former was originally serviced when it opened in 1978 by what was at the time South America's only gondola lift and has worked with Vail Associates from Colorado on its design.
Las Leñas arrived five years later in the early 1980s and now rivals Catedral for the top spot in Argentinian skiing, benefitting from being far closer to capital Buenos Aires, only 120km (75 miles) away. It was the first South American area to offer World Cup ski races only a few years after opening, in 1985, and has built a reputation for high quality on and off the slopes.
Other Argentinian ski resorts of particular interest include Cerro Castor which is the world's most southerly 'proper' ski area since opening in 1999 with three quad chairs, near Argentina's famous southern tip of Tierra del Fuego. It is located 27km (17 miles) from the regional capital of Ushuaia City (South America and the world's most southerly city).
The same year the more basic Batea Mahuida Snow Park opened on the Mahuida Volcano. This is noteworthy as it was a cooperative enterprise by the indigenous Puel Tribe in the hope of maximising their natural assets and stemming the loss of their younger generation from the remote mountainous area. All 250+ members of the tribe have the same surname – Puel.
Good points in skiing or boarding Argentina are that the local people are very friendly and hospitable local communities. You also know you're on the snow when 98% of the world's resorts are shut through "lack of snow" which gives you a delightfully smug feeling inside.
There are world class resort amenities and facilities in the major resorts and also very reasonable prices away from the purpose-built complexes. Slopes are generally uncrowded with modern lift infrastructure at the larger resorts. read more...
Argentina: latest snow conditions round-up
Summary of forecast snowfall and ski conditions for resorts in Argentina. Fresh snow is forecast at 4resorts. Powder is reported at 0 resorts and 0 are reporting good piste conditions.