Reports from Argentina indicate that the country’s largest ski area – by uplift – Catedral near Bariloche (pictured above last October), will begin running its ski lifts again next week, with a target opening date of Tuesday 21st July.

If this happens as planned it is believed this will be the first resort in South America to open its runs for winter 2020, about a month after the usual season-start in the country.

But it’s important to stress that the skiing will only be open to local people.  Argentina has been easing its lockdown by region, with first the ski area of Cerro Castor in the south of the country opening a week ago for people living nearby.  It however has so far opened is base restaurant, ice rink and cross-country ski trails, but not it’s downhill runs and ski lifts.

The Andes have been receiving bumper snowfalls through winter so far with the deepest snow for several years, causing some frustration for skiers and resort operators whilst the sensible advice of stay home and stay safe has remained the message.

(Corralco in Chile last week)

Resorts have been warning would-be back country skiers that the huge snowfalls have left the avalanche danger at maximum with no ski patrol in place to help anyone who goes out against advice and gets in to difficulties.

Chile has been harder hit than Argentina and has extended its lockdown further, whilst Argentina has been carefully easing its lockdown by region. Chile has over 300,000 recorded cases and over 7000 deaths, compared to nearer 100,000 cases and 2,000 deaths in Argentina.

Yesterday Catedral teased skiers with an announcement on social media that they had “good news” but did not elaborate.

According to local media reports however the local municipal government and the ski lift operator has reached an outline agreement to begin running the lift next week with a target date of Tuesday the 21st July.

Details to be agreed include how much of the mountain will operate, how much lift passes will cost and how they will be purchased.

It is unclear as yet whether other ski areas in Argentina will be able to open. One of the country’s other big areas, Las Lenas, already said early on in the COVID-19 crisis that it would no open this winter regardless; and international travel, as well as most internal and international flights, are not expected to resume until at least the spring when the ski season is winding down anyway.