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Author Topic: September 5 through 23rd - Argentina  (Read 17446 times)
DOD
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September 5 through 23rd - Argentina
« on: 09/25/15, 09:35 AM »

A great couple of weeks skiing in Argentina along Ruta 40 from Bariloche (Cerro Catedral Alta Patagonia) to Mendoza Province (Las Lenas) in the north.

It seems as though we were blessed with a cold and snowy September in Argentina. All the places we visited, we had fresh snow. Our weekly routine was arrive, ski pow in bounds for a few days, then clean up storm snow in the side country and back country. If we stayed long enough, it would get windy, then warm and we would then go for corn snow on North aspects. Then we'd move on to the next destination, where it would snow again, and the cycle would repeat itself. Lucky indeed!

Argentina skiing is kinda broken up into 2 areas. Northern regions (andes) and southern region (Patagonia) Southern ski areas have lower altitudes, but generally cooler weather, whilst the northern regions have a warmer climate but higher altitudes (las lenas base is 7000ft and tops out at 10K) The south is all about the freezing level and the north is all about finding fine weather and good visibility higher in the alpine. The wind is also a dominating factor that determines what terrain and aspects you can ski.
https://www.facebook.com/davidmobile/videos/10153713647334575/?pnref=story

 We started in the Lakes District of Patagonia flying into Bariloche and skiing at Cerro Catedral for the first week. We had no itinerary after this first week as we didn't know whether to go south to La Hoya or north. As it turned out we went north for higher altitude to beat the rising freezing levels during their spring. This strategy paid off for us. We moved north to Caviahue for a week, and then further north to Las Lenas for the final week.

Lots of report time on face shots, great snow, blue bird days, etc but instead I thought I would focus this trip report on the how, where and what, to help if anyone else wanted information on planning a trip south during our summer. Traveling to South America to ski is one of those great pilgrimages of the sport and I would encourage every skier to do it, at least once. There is lots of information online about where to go and where to stay, but some insider tips are often a lot better than the resources available through websites etc.

 Argentina really is first world living on a third world budget with relatively uncrowded ski areas. Particularly in the side and back country areas (at least that was my experience). We skied a combination of lift days and back country days around 60% to 40% to take advantage of some great POW days on the chairs but still keep costs down. We had plans of touring a number of Volcanoes, but as the weather turned out, we spent more time skiing powder inbounds and in adjoining areas of resorts for fresh tracks.

So here is the how, where and what for anyone interested.

Take plenty of U.S Cash with you. You can hawk your greenbacks in Bariloche on the main street for a significantly better exchange rate than the official one. Street value of USD to AR was 15:1 where the official value was 10:1. Usually in bigger town and centers you have a choice of using credit/debit cards etc, but smaller and some medium sized towns accept cash only. The closest gas station 2 hours from Caviahue is cash only for example. The same with alot of the hostels etc. The Argentinians seem to have an ingrained distrust of banks and financial institutions, and generally speaking, cash is king.

Accomodation. what I found was that if it looks spendy, it usually is. If it looks cheap, it usually is. Cheap definately isn't nasty. Los Duendes and Pehuenche were two perfect examples of the cheapest looking places we could find, and turned out to be the best places we could ever have stayed at.
Best places we found to stay and ski:

Lakes District Stay.
Lago Gutierrez Lodge in Bariloche
About 20 minutes drive from Cerro Catedral. Our most expensive accommodation at around $30 USD per room per night, but with breakfast and fabulous views of lake Gutierrez and Cerro Catedral range. This place was a real treat for us. Bariloche has lots of supermercados and is great for loading up on provisions. La Anonima supermercados has the best prices. You can get a litre of beer for around US $2!

Lakes District Ski
We skied at Cerro catedral which kind of reminded me of a Patagonian Crystal mountain. Relatively modern infrastructure, great alpine terrain consisting of open faces and bowls, killer back country and skin access side country. Great destination in mid season through to early September. Freezing levels and snow level go up in early and late season. Good mid season ski area with it's relatively lower altitude from 3400ft to 6700ft. A Little pricey at around $50 USD for a ticket but great ski terrain for the price!

Caviahue Stay
Los Duendes del Volcan Hostel in Caviahue. Hands down the best dirt off the shoulder genuine hospitality I have ever experienced. Our host was a dedicated back country boarder by the name of Fermin. He was gracious enough to take us on a tour to the hot springs in Copahue, and then ski powder on the way home! The food and beer was cheap, and great. Great hostel style accommodation great for meeting and socializing with other skiers. In their low season (ski season) the 4 groups of people there all had an entire dorm to themselves.

Caviahue Ski
Caviahue has a small ski hill on the side of the Copahue Volcano that is rather pedestrian. Tickets go for around $40 USD. This place is an undiscovered gem for back country skiers however, with loads of sick terrain for those interested in the human powered style of the sport.

Las Lenas stay
Pehuenche Hostel in Los Molles
Stay here instead of the unreasonably priced Las Lenas for accommodation. Its only 15km from Las Lenas and significantly cheaper, and better! We ate in here every night for just a few dollars with fantastic home cooked style meals. Beer is served by the Litre!

Las lenas Ski
Las Lenas ski tickets are still cheap. $45 odd USD for shoulder season 'heli style skiing.' Ain't half bad. Impossible to track out the hole resort in a day. Endless back country and side country options for fresh tracks for weeks!! Jaw dropping terrain in bounds. Our favorite ski destination of the trip.

my blog with more info for anyone intersted
https://dodskis.wordpress.com/

some of my favorite images from the trip
https://www.flickr.com/photos/46067654@N00/

more pictures here:
https://www.facebook.com/davidmobile/media_set?set=a.10153726219839575.1073741871.736464574&type=3

video here
https://vimeo.com/144231861

and some pictures of the skiing.


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« Last Edit: 10/31/15, 02:51 PM by DOD » Logged
jtack
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Posts: 652


Re: September 5 through 23rd - Argentina
« Reply #1 on: 09/25/15, 02:32 PM »

Thanks for taking the time to put together this great report, it sounds like a great trip, it is now on my day dream list, thanks.
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rlsg
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Posts: 512


Re: September 5 through 23rd - Argentina
« Reply #2 on: 09/25/15, 05:58 PM »

WOOWhooo...FANTASTIC...thanks for all the beta (and looking forward to any additional).  Gotta get down there...
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k-root
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Posts: 73


Re: September 5 through 23rd - Argentina
« Reply #3 on: 10/10/15, 09:05 PM »

Wow Very Nice.  It's great to read about things outside the PNW.



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DOD
5Member
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Posts: 81


Re: September 5 through 23rd - Argentina
« Reply #4 on: 10/31/15, 02:49 PM »

Finally got around to putting together some video of the trip
https://vimeo.com/144231861
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mikerolfs
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Posts: 774


WWW
Re: September 5 through 23rd - Argentina
« Reply #5 on: 11/01/15, 06:34 PM »

That looked like great skiing.  Thanks for sharing the video.
I like the pigtail shadows.
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