Las Leñas versus Cerro Catedral

August 21st, 2009 Posted in entertainment, resources, travel

Written by Shanie

Ok, so you have decided to travel to Argentina to ski but just aren’t sure were to go… here is a little beta to help you decide which ski area is best for you.

There are two major ski destinations in Argentina. Though there are smaller resorts in South America, Cerro Catedral in Patagonia and Las Leñas in Mendoza are both excellent destination resorts for their own reasons.

Cerro Catedral

Cerro Catedral is located in our neck of the woods, just outside of the bustling city center of Bariloche. Bariloche has a population of approximately 150,000 people, helping it to offer true Argentine culture.

The ski resort offers thirty nine lifts and the capacity to transport 35,000 skiers per hour at Catedral.

The upper mountain has five different telasillas that gain the summit, allowing for less lift lines. The ski area also has a trick park and two areas of more advanced terrain; Laguna and the Nubes chair lift.

In addition, there are trees on the lower two thirds of the mountain and you can ski during stormy conditions.

Catedral tree skiing_1

Catedral is an excellent destination for the entire family. There are multiple large sledding areas and a shopping mall at the base of the slopes, so non-skiers have activities to do.

There are also sixteen different restaurants on the mountain.

Accommodations can be found either slope-side, in the city or in the surrounding areas.

Las Leñas

Las Leñas is another type of ski area all together. There are no trees and it feels like you are on the moon. It is an isolated place, in that the ski village is located at the end of a snowed-in road, fifty minutes from the nearest town.

The skiing is the reason that this little village in the middle of nowhere was created. There are only a few places in the world that have this caliber of skiing: Alaska, certain locations in Europe, and possibly Greenland. But none of them are accessed as quickly as with the twenty-five year old chair lift, Marte. Though Marte is old and needs to be replaced – something that the corporation says is in the plans – it accesses a plateau that offers a lifetime worth of skiing for the expert skier.

The village consists of various apartments and hotels, with 3,000 beds in the entire village. Dispersed through the area is one grocery store, one gas station (sometimes open), a few dance clubs, multiple restaurants and a lot of bars.

The cultural experience isn’t really met in this snowy wonderland, therefore it is important to check out Buenos Aires, or other “real” Argentine towns, to get a more authentic Argentine feel. The other negative to Las Leñas is that when it snows, there is nothing to do but sleep, eat, drink, party, and hope that the visibility gets better. Without trees there is little visibility and a lot of vertigo with the onset of weather.

For me, Las Leñas is where it is at. I absolutely love the steep, sustained and amazing lines that are available to rip up.

Las Leñas Off Piste_1

With that in mind, Las Leñas is not a place for those faint of heart or with intermediate to barely advanced abilities. This place is serious and with the lack of snow control done by the ski patrol, you better know your snow science and how to use a beacon.

Catedral and Las Leñas are both worthy ski areas to visit. It just depends on what you are looking for.

  1. 7 Responses to “Las Leñas versus Cerro Catedral”

  2. By Richard on May 8, 2010

    I’m looking for a place to move to that is outside of the American sphere of influence. Lived in Columbia, fluent in Spanish. Bariloche seems to be an unbeatable combination of mountain beauty and urban environment while remaining moderately inexpensive. My problem– skiing. I’ve skied at Sun Valley, Jackson, or whistler all my life and can’t resign myself to skiing at a place reported by a steady stream of bloggers to be the worst run ski area in the world. What is your opinion?

    I seem to recall that you had some involvement in an attempt to purchase the ski area at Smithers? Are you moving back to North America because of a ski jones?


  3. By Patagonia on Jun 7, 2010

    Hi Richard,

    Bariloche is a wonderful place to live. The ski area is not very well run, but the views are great.

    Also check out Villa La Angostura and Cerro Bayo.

    Yes, we are the founders of Mountain Rider’s Alliance.

    Cheers, Jamie

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