Fun place, great people, stunning views
A long long long ways away but worth the trip
Wow, what a view...
My trip to Chapelco was thanks to my affiliation with the Federation Internationale du Ski. As one of their technical delegates I was sent to Chapelco for Argentina National Championship (FIS) races and South American Cup events. Thank you Tom Winters and Stefano Pirola for the opportunity. My transport from Bariloche was thanks to one of the father's of a racer frim Chapelco. We loaded up into his 4X4 and headed north with a caveat...is it ok that I don't haved a driving license? What did I care...it was his country. We took the "shortcut" up the Valle Encantado and over Paso Cordoba. CRAZY? No, just call it adventurous. Worth every time my head hit the window as we bounced up the heavily rutted snow covered road. There is an easier way. Glad we didn't take it. The views were STUNNING.
So, you arrive to San Martin de los Andes by desending past the access road to Chapelo and see this beautiful village settled into the mountains at the end of Lago Lacar. Aspen is not more beautiful. The Chateau Lake Louise is more grandiose but not more inviting. I am thinking somewhere along the lines of one of the Swiss resorts with a lake nearby...anyway absolutely beautiful. The town is very inviting. Plan to stroll the streets, dive into the shops, eat at as many different restaurants as possible during your stay.
Now for the resort review:
Chapelco sits deep in the Andes, a dirt and gravel access road leads to a smallish resort at the base of a huge escarpment. The base area is unpretentious. Just the way I like it. I was being hosted by Club Lacar, one of the ski clubs. My new friend Anibal took me to the top of the mountain right away. More stunning views. We skied a nice pitch about 35-40 degrees off the top and then pulled up at the start of the GS for recording elevations. Then we skied the narrow tree lined runs back to the quad. After a few more runs gathering a sense of the place we stopped at a mid-mountain restaurant. It was JAMMED, and smokey. Oh, I forgot I was in another country. In Oregon we have come to the admission that smoking while skiing just seems sinful...why mess up the effect of clear mountain air. I had to get over it.
Anway, the resort would be a great place to ski if you live nearby. I would be sure to have randonee or AT gear and plan to hike the Escarpment often to increase the variety of lines. When I was there it was bluebird each day but I can only imagine the grins you would get if it was knee deep powder.
Each day since I have been home I have gone back to view my photos. The Chilean volcano Lanin captures my imagination. Anibal hiked and skied it from about 3000 meters. The whole experience just reinforced my motive to develop my expatriot scheme and consider adding San Martin de los Andes as a potential hideout.
Give this place a lick, you will dream of going back.