SKI IN PATAGONIA
In winter, Patagonia becomes a compulsory destination for those who want to spend some days of snow and skiing. Ranging from sophisticated highly-equipped centers to small complexes, ideal for beginners, you can find everything in this region of dreamlike landscapes.
Bariloche: Mt Catedral
It is the major complex in South America, with over 70 ski runs and 30 ski-lifts. There are luxurious hotels and restaurants on the same mountain.
San Martín de los Andes: Chapelco
Its singularity lies in the beautiful lenga forests through which run most of the ski tracks, so that skiing becomes a fairy-tale experience. There are 30 ski runs and instructors of recognized level, amongst other characteristics.
Villa la Angostura: Mt Bayo
Another ski center outstanding for its landscapes. Fully-equipped.
Esquel: La Hoya
It has the lowest prices amongst the complexes in Patagonia. Its hollowed shape, as indicated by its name ("hoya"= hole), and location allow skiing up to the third or fourth week in spring and sliding down for 5 kilometers nonstop.
Another place for ski fans who want to keep their skis on until the first days in November. This center is chosen by numerous people who want to learn how to slide, but the more audacious have the possibility, if they wish, of skiing up to the mouth of the volcano. There are beautiful examples of araucarias in the surroundings.
Villa Pehuenia: Batea Mahuida
Run by members of the mapuche community, it is only starting to develop.
The southernmost city in the world is the only place in Patagonia which offers several winter sports centers to choose from: there are 3 within its perimeter and 6 in the outskirts.
Its smooth slopes are only indicated for beginners. Many people from the High Valley of Río Negro use it to ski for the first time.
Wayle Peak, in Chos Malal
Though not very well-known, this ski center is really worth visiting.
It offers ski runs for all levels and at reasonable prices.
Bariloche Adventure Travel & Tours...
During winter, the Cordillera area near Bariloche offers a chance of practicing this sport in traditional places like Complejo Catedral, and also further away where there are no means of elevation and the skier finds himself alone amid the immensity of the high peaks.
Here the skier will feel the indescribable sensation of stepping on virgin snow, traveling through valleys and along cornices, visiting refuges, and enjoying a beautiful and uniquely special place, as the sun shines over the Andes mountains.
MODALITIES OF SKIING
Back Country Skiing
This is the best option for those who want to try skiing for the first time. The first step is learning how to walk on skis. Then, gradually, how to coast. This must always be done with an instructor (very important for beginners) who will choose flat, very slightly sloping ski runs.
In Bariloche, there are ski runs in the surroundings of the Neumeyer Refuge at the bottom of Challhuaco Valley and the hillsides of Mt Otto. The former have the ideal geography for learning and the others, Mt Otto Back Country Skiing Center where annual competitions take place, have very good tracks approved by the International Skiing Federation.
Back Country Skiing is practiced in those countries where it snows as a treatment alternative for people with muscle, joint, heart, lung or obesity conditions. Skiing, swimming and Olympic paddling are the three most complete all-round health sports.
Also known as High Mountain Skiing depending on where it is practiced. It is the perfect way to practice outside the ski runs. Its main attraction is that the skier is completely independent and far from the crowds. You can ascend and descend without the need of climbing slopes.
The skier must first master Alpine Skiing before going on to this kind of skiing, despite the fact that the equipment and techniques are not the same; the same goes for the snowplow and parallel techniques, as on the mountain you may often need to turn or stop suddenly.
In short, the technique used in Traverse Skiing is a mixture of Alpine Skiing and Back Country Skiing techniques. The first one is used when going downhill and the second in the flat areas and when climbing slopes.
Bariloche´s mountains offer different options for practicing Traverse Skiing. Among the best-known ones are the trips to the Frey and San Martin refuges.
It is recommended always to travel in a group, with either a high mountain guide, a ski instructor or some other experienced person.
This sport started in Argentina in the eighties when some European snowboarders left their boards there and some intrepid sportsmen began to practice it in Bariloche.
After 1987, ski instructors who went to work in Europe gained experience and began to give individual lessons. Five years later they made an association to found the first snowboarding school, called Eas.
Snowboarding started off as a fad and today is a fascinating Olympic discipline. Practicing snowboarding becomes a habit very difficult to shake off, and those skiers who try it begin to prefer snowboarding to skiing. It is an exciting sport but, in order to enjoy it completely, it is necessary to bear in mind the advice from the experts.
GUIDE TO SKIING AND WINTER ACTIVITIES
(Bariloche and surrounding area)
Mt Catedral T,A,S,M,C
An important skiing and winter activities center. It has complete infrastructure and elevation means.
Mt Bayo T,A,S,M,C
Mid-sized Back Country Skiing center, near Villa la Angostura. It has good infrastructure.
Mt Otto - Piedras Blancas T, N, C
Back Country Skiing center, with groomed runs and good infrastructure. Traverse Skiing can also be practiced here.
Challahuaco T, N, C
Beautiful valley with a refuge, lenga forests, and ski runs for Back Country Skiing and Traverse Skiing.
Mt López T, S, C
Large snowy "bowl", for Traverse Skiing and Snowboarding, but with the risk of avalanches in some seasons.
Villa Horrible T
Traditional valley and "bowls" for the practice of Traverse Skiing in a beautiful environment. It has an uninhabited refuge.
Large glacier area where High Mountain Traverse Skiing can be practiced.
Puyehue Pass T
Large area with slight slopes. A great place for Traverse Skiing.
Mt Pelado T
Area with forests and slightly sloping hillsides, to the north of Bariloche. It has an uninhabited refuge located on private property.
Perito Moreno A,S,M
Small skiing center near El Bolsón.
SKI AND SNOWBOARD IN SAN MARTIN DE LOS ANDES
San Martin de los Andes Adventure Travel & Tours...
CERRO CHAPELCO SKI RESORT
Chapelco offers special features for skiing. Due to these features (slopes of rock-free grass), in 1946 Federico Graeff chose it as the most suitable place to develop the practicing of winter sports, because its slopes can be enjoyed even when snowfalls are light.
Its gentle slopes make it the ideal place for beginners to skiing, as well as for those reasonably skilful and the real experts. The most popular mode is Alpine skiing. Snowboarding and back-country skiing are also possible in Chapelco, which is the location of many local and international competitions.
This is a prime world-class ski complex, including fast and efficient elevation devices that are accessible through the totally computerized Snow Pass system, it has a family ski center with a Children's Club, a day care center and a nursery, as well as complete restaurant, coffee-house and bar services, etc.
In addition to its famous quality and the maintenance it gets, the advantages of having a base at 1,250 meters above sea level, and a summit at over 2,000 meters above sea level enables a sure supply of snow throughout the winter season.
Chapelco boasts of its abundant and high quality snow during the "peak" months of winter. Annual snowfall at the base is 1.5 meters, and 2.5 at the summit, while average depths are 0.5 m at the base, 1 m at the mid-point and 1.3 m at the summit. Experts can enjoy speed away from the runs, as well as sinking into and floating on the snow.
Ranked among the world's best, this complex is no mere way station - it has a life of its own. At the "Base del Cerro", under the "Telecabina" building, there is a large and ultra-modern shopping sector specially designed for quick and comfortable service, including drugstores, boutiques, ATMs and mobile phone services, among others.
There you can rent Alpine, back-country and traverse skis, parabolics, mono-skis, bigfoots and snowboards. The ski lockers and boot driers are in the same building and the locker rooms are heated. Wardrobe service is available in two places: the "Telecabina" building and Antulauquen. The repair shop is in the same sector, attended by specialized staff from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
We will also find excellent Patagonian food in the different stores.
Over a dozen state of the art last-generation devices with a lifting capacity of up to 12,000 people an hour speed the transport of skiers to the summit, or to the runs of their choice. This enables them to use their time to the full while they are on the mountain.
As free time is very important, Chapelco has a totally computerized access system to the elevation media. Thus, using magnetic cards (Snow Pass) the skier can move around the mountain without undue delay.
The "Telecabina" (Multiple Chairlift)
A first in South America, with its quadruple, triple and double seating arrangements, teleskis and t-bar that transport 11.600 skiers an hour, it eliminates unpleasant delays and lineups.
Its units, seating six skiers each are the symbol of this mountain and enable comfortable access to the 1,600 m platform that is the second base of Chapelco operations.
A multiple chairlift, five chairlifts (two doubles, one triple and two quadruples) as well as five drag lifts amply service the whole area.
In short, the comfortably conditioned "Telecabina" will take you to the 1,600 platform with guaranteed year-round snow in five minutes.
This is the halfway stop to the summit of the mountain's most important elevation device, the "Telecabina".
Chapelco has 29 ski runs at different difficulty levels, giving the center something for every skill level. Chapelco's skiing surface area is 140 hectares, with some runs measuring maximum 5.3 km and a (non-accumulated) elevation difference of 730 meters. It has slopes that start at 20º for beginners and end with challenging 45º slopes on red and black runs with bumps and jumps for the experts.
La Base and Pista 63 are perfect runs for beginners. Between 1,250 and 1,750 m there are gentle, smoothly rounded easy runs. There are areas approaching the summit that offer steeper slopes for the more experienced.
Snowboard nerds, on their side, are avid fans of the Halfpipe located in the canyon left of the Palito, specially designed for competitive runs of different kinds.
FEATURES OF THE COMPLEX
Location: 18 km from San Martín de los Andes, Neuquén.
Winter temperature: -4º to 11º Celsius
Ski modes available
Runs: Chapelco has runs for all skill levels. They are suitable for learning and for top-level competition.
Skiing surface: 140 hectares
Number of runs: 29 marked-out, controlled and guarded runs (some with certification from the FIS).
Maximum skiing distance: From the top of Mallín chairlift to the base: 5.3 km; and from the ridge to the base: 3.4 km.
Maximum uninterrupted descent: 5.3 km.
Maximum and minimum height: 1,250 and 1,980 meters above sea level respectively.
Skiing elevation difference: 730 m (non-cumulative).
Minimum and maximum slopes: 20 and 45° respectively.
Safety on the runs: Chapelco has a 20-man guard patrol service with stretchers, radios, sno-cats, etc.
Elevation media: 12 in operation, including:
* 1 "Telecabina"
* 5 Chairlifts
* 4 Teleskís
* 1 Portable Teleskí
Total transport capacity: 12.000 skiers an hour.
Base exit capacity: 2.700 passengers.
Altitudes: From the base to the top:
- Base: 1,250 m
- Rancho Manolo: 1,500 m
- Antu Lauquen: 1,600 m
- Refugio Graeff: 1,720 m
- Cumbre: 1,980 m
- Slopes: - maximum: 45 % - minimum: 20 %
Mean annual rainfall:
- Base (1,250 m): 1.5 m
- Summit (1,980 m): 2.5 m
Snow depth (average):
- Base: 0.5 m -Intermedia:1 m
- Summit: 1.30 m.
Snow quality (average): Wet/fast
Years of experience bring knowledge, and the staff on the "Cerro" have decades of experience behind them in the fields of maintenance and run safety, guard service, elevation media mechanics, information center management, assisting passengers to board and dismount, and all the services that can make your stay more enjoyable.
SKI IN USHUAIA - TIERRA DEL FUEGO
Ushuaia - Tierra del Fuego Adventure Travel & Tours...
During winter, although temperatures in Tierra del Fuego are not as low as in other places of equal altitude in the northern hemisphere because of its insularity, Ushuaia offers a great variety of activities to enjoy the snow.
The magnificent Fueguian geography allows visitors to practise Alpine-skiing (downhill) as well as cross-country skiing (in flat runs).
There are several winter centers to practise skiing. These tourist resorts not only offer the possibility of skiing along wonderful valleys surrounded by mountains and glaciers, but also the opportunity to enjoy walks on snowshoes, excursions on sleighs pulled by Siberian huskies, walkways on snow cats or cuatriciclos (four-wheeled motorbikes), photographic safaris, ice-skating and excursions on flexmóvil.
All the equipment necessary to practice the different activities is available for rental at the centers. Tourists also have the chance of taking individual and group lessons to learn how to practice the various sports or just improve their skill. Each center is equipped with shelters, tearooms and restaurants which serve typical Fueguian food.
In the area surrounding the southernmost city in the world, there are nine ski centers, among which the farthest is located 36 km away from the city along National Route N°3. This route, which starts in the city, is completely paved and signaled and it has no mountainous stretches, which allows the tourist to visit most of the centers in very little time.
There are two centers which are located farther away from Ushuaia: "Hostería Petrel" 60 km away and "Kawi Shiken", 110 km away.
Most of the centers are open all throughout the year and they all offer equipment to rent, such as boards, ski poles, boots and snowboards, among others. Besides, the variety of centers and the possibility of practicing Andean or Alpine skiing have put an end to the myth that Tierra del Fuego is just for cross-country skiing fans.
The alternatives offered by Tierra del Fuego are infinite. Apart from Nordic or Alpine skiing, tourists can choose snowboarding. In long-established centers, such as "Las Cotorras" (where there is a school) and Martial Glacier, there are runs suitable for the practice of this sport which means that most of the centers already offer specially assigned space for this activity.
The "Del Bosque" chair-lift is an excellent choice to begin the adventure and live a day full of action, in close contact with nature and fresh air. At the top of the chair-lift, right in the heart of the mountain, there are a restaurant overlooking the highest peaks and "Cota 480" tearoom, with a magnificent view of the Great Valley.
This is a magical place in the mountains, where nature blends with the ski runs, where tourists coming from the intermediate and higher areas of the resort arrive and from where they leave to get to the base of the mountain.
On the edge of the mountain, tourists can visit "El Refugio", a shelter that preserves a rustic style which matches the overwhelming surrounding nature. From this shelter, in the highest part of the mountain, one may appreciate the internal side of the southern mountain range in the Patagonian Andes.
The most important ski centers, as mentioned before, are located on National Route N°3, over a 36 km long stretch, heading North.
MAIN SKI CENTERS IN TIERRA DEL FUEGO
Winter Center "Wolfgang Wallner", Andean Club of Ushuaia
Located about 2 miles away from the city center, this center boasts 900 mt skiing surface, with a slope at an average inclination of 30º.
There is a ski lift available, which has capacity for approximately 300 people. There is also a tearoom.
Winter Center "Francisco Jerman" (Cross-Country Skiing)
Located 5 km away from the city, on the way to the well-known Martial Glacier, along National Route N°3, this center, 100 mt above sea level, is ideal for practicing cross-country skiing above the terraces of the Martial Range. There are five skiing circuits of 6.5 km, 5 km and 3 km approximately. The season ends in October.
Winter Sports Center "Glaciar Martial" (Alpine ski)
Situated 7 km away from the city center, it has a 1100 mt run, as well as a double ski lift with capacity for 224 skiers per hour. The "Ushuaia Skiing School" operates in this center. Located at the base of the run, you may rent there all the necessary ski gear.
Winter Center "Altos del Valle" or "Valley of the Huskies" (cross-country skiing)
Located about 12 miles away from the city along National Route N°3, this center offers ski equipment and sleds both for rent or for sale.
It is well-known for its snow-cat (snowmobiles) tours as well as for the excursions on sleds pulled by dogs. Its main attractions are, without doubt, the sledding school and the Siberian and Alaskan Huskies kennels. There are also Nordic or cross-country skiing runs, some of them artificially illuminated.
Winter Center "Tierra Mayor" (cross-country skiing)
Located 13 miles away from the city along National Route N°3, and 200 meters above sea level, this center offers learning and training runs, artificially illuminated runs and snow cats (snowmobiles) excursions. There are runs up to 5.5 km long. The season extends till the end of October. Visitors can practice Nordic or cross-country skiing, go for a ride on snowmobiles or go on an excursion through the Fueguian forests. These may take longer than one day, in which case one may stay at the mountain shelters of Mt Bonete and Mt Nunatak.
Winter Center "Valle Hermoso" (cross-country skiing)
It is located 25 km away from the city center. One of its main attractions is the Canadian beaver in the wild. There is a tearoom and restaurant, where visitors can try typical dishes, such as lamb or trout.
Winter Center "Las Cotorras" (cross-country skiing)
It is located 26 km away from the city along National Route N°3, toward
Río Grande, at an altitude of 250 mt above sea level. You can practice
cross-country skiing and biathlon. There is a skiing and snowboard
training school with instructors, a skating rink and one may also
go on a skiing excursion to see the beavers. It is also possible to
go on very interesting snowmobile tours. The hotel infrastructure
is really good and visitors may enjoy an excellent roasted goat or
the typical Fueguian lamb.
Winter Center "Haruwen" (cross-country skiing)
Located along National Route N°3, 36 km away from the city, it offers 45 km of ski runs, specially built to practice cross-country skiing as well as the necessary equipment and specialized instructors for the practice of that sport. During summer, it is possible to go horse-riding. The resort is open all throughout the year, offering also the possibility of going on troika and snowmobiles tours.
"Altos del Valle"
Along National Route N°3, 17 km away from Ushuaia, this center offers accommodations in bungalows, as well as private parking, tearoom, regular transport and skiing school. At the same time, it boasts the first dog-sledding training school for children and Siberian kennels.
"Solar del Bosque"
Along National Route N°3, 18 km away from Ushuaia, this tourist resort offers a shelter with room for 18 people, dining room for up to 25 people and a camping ground with services. Some of the activities available here are snowmobile tours, ski and snowshoe excursions, snow cats guided tours and photographic safaris. At the center one may find all the necessary equipment to rent as well as instructors specialized in the different disciplines. There are several marked cross-country skiing runs, some of which go round the neighboring area while others connect with "Altos del Valle" and "Valle de los Huskies" winter centers.
Winter Sports Center "Cerro Castor" (Alpine skiing)
Locates 26 km away north-east from the city along National Route N°3, this center is, so far, the biggest Alpine ski center in the Province. It stretches over a surface of 400 skiing hectares, which are divided into 16 runs with modern ski-lifts. Equipment to rent is available in one of the shelters, situated at the base of the mount. Among its many services, the center offers a bar at the base, a restaurant with room for over 300 people at 480 mt and a refuge/bar at 600 mt.
NON-TRADITIONAL SNOW AND ICE SPORTS IN TIERRA DEL FUEGO
Ice-skating in Tierra del Fuego can be traced back to ancient times when the Fueguian aborigines tied animals' bones to their feet so as to be able to slide on the ice and thus go across frozen lakes and rivers during winter. With the passing of time, this peculiar way of sliding over frozen surfaces became a popular attraction for all social classes. "Laguna del Diablo", "Ushuaia Rugby Club", "Tierra Mayor" and "Haruwen" are among the best locations for the practice of this sport involving vertigo and good balance.
Ice-skating rink "Laguna del Diablo"
Located between the Alem, las Lajas, Staiyakin and Costa de la Laguna streets in "Barrio Andino", this ice-skating rink was declared Natural Leisure Reserve in 1991. Admission is free of charge and it is open till 10 pm.
During winter, it is possible to try this ancient walking method over the snow, which consists of attach to your shoes some kind of wide flat frames with a net so that you may walk on the snow without sinking in. Snowshoes allow tourists to get to places which would be otherwise unreachable. Undoubtedly, the snowed forest, deep valleys, pathways and ski runs are the perfect spots to take a walk and get in contact with Nature, so beautiful and peaceful in this area..
Snowmobiles or snow cats (both single- and double-seater) are among the most effective means of transport in snow-covered areas. Whether going downhill, uphill, taking dangerous curves or rushing along straight stretches, riding snow-mobiles is an exhilarating experience.
Although the geographic features needed for the practice of this sport are similar to the ones needed for cross-country skiing, snow cats rides are taken in more varied spaces each time.