Skiing in Argentina and Chile

Skiing in Argentina and Chile

Before you go off thinking that all South America has to offer is beautiful beaches, lost civilizations, welcoming people, delicious food, vibrant cultures, and endless excitement, think again. Well, maybe not the endless excitement part, because what you may not know is that South America also some of the best skiing the world. The Patagonia region isn’t just for trekking to the end of the earths, but also for shredding power in the Andes mountains. Not only is skiing in Argentina and Chile possible, but you’ll be dying to go back again and again.

Cerro Catedral

Cerro Catedral (aka Catedral Alta Patagonia) in Argentina is perhaps the very best South America skiing has to offer. Aesthetically, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a more beautiful ski resort than Cerro Catedral. Located in the Lake District of Patagonia, the views of Lake Nahuel Huapi from the slopes make for some of the most breathtaking sites you’ve ever seen. Turn the other way and you’ll see why this mountain was named a cathedral. The granite spires that sit atop the mountain resemble a gothic church, creating the perfect place to have a spiritual, out of body ski session. The resort aspect of Cerro Catedral has undergone major renovations in recent years and is on the high end of South America standards. Getting to Cerro Catedral is very simple as well. Visitors should fly into the San Carlos de Bariloche airport, the town closest to Cerro Catedral at about 20 km away. Flights to Bariloche operate out of Buenos Aires regularly. Once in Bariloche, the resort is a short 20-30 minute drive from the city center.

Nevados de Chillan

For visitors to the neighboring Chile, a ski trip must include a day at Nevados de Chillan ski resort. Located on the slopes of a volcano, this resort’s location rivals Cerro Catedral. The area is also famous for the natural hot springs, a perfect way to cap a long day on the slopes. While the steep vertical of the volcano makes Nevados de Chillan a popular place for race training, the resort has a spread of terrain and runs that accommodate all ability levels from beginners to experts. Backcountry terrain and powder-seekers will be especially happy at Nevados de Chillan as it’s well known for the lack of crowds. While the lift systems are a bit outdated, the deep power and clean lines you’ll be making all day will more than make up for it. Located about 5 hours south of Santiago, it’s easiest to rent a car in Santiago and drive to the resort.

Portillo Ski Resort

The last resort on our list is the world-renowned Portillo Ski Resort in Chile. The incredibly steep slopes at Portillo have contributed to it being first South American resort to host the World Skiing Championships in 1966 and then being the place where the 200km per hour speed barrier was broken in 1978. The history is far from Portillo’s only drawing card, however. Like Cerro Catedral, Portillo runs are blessed with gorgeous views of the emerald lake below. The waters of Laguna del Inca complement the bright white snow in the most magnificent of ways. Portillo lies very close to the Chile/Argentina border. It is most easily reached by car from Santiago, about a 2 hours drive away. Alternatively, shuttles from the Santiago airport can also be arranged through Portillo ski packages.

Photo Credit: demiante

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