Catedral Alta Patagonia resort, near Bariloche in Argentina’s Lake District, is South America’s most developed ski resort and the only resort with a full-service base village. Catedral is known for deep powder, excellent tree skiing and easily accessed off-piste terrain. And, although the resort’s location and lower elevation means the base area can be patchy, the resort has invested in snowmaking equipment and added or modernized lifts to the upper limits at 7,000+ feet.
The nearest airport to the ski resort is San Carlos de Bariloche (BRC) in Argentina. It’s about 30 minutes by car between the resort and the airport. The resort is 12 miles from the city of Bariloche. A bus service is available between the bus station at the ski resort, but you will need a smart card to ride the bus, which can be obtained from your hotel. Based on long bus lines, visitors should also consider renting a car.
The terrain is highly varied, and there are 38 lifts, 1 tram and a 4-person gondola (up to 35,000 skiers per hour) to access 120 kilometers (75 miles) of downhill skiing, including the La Laguna that takes skiers to backcountry chutes and bowls. There is a total of 50 marked runs and additional unmarked ones: 17 green runs, 25 blue runs, 19 red runs and 5 black runs (17% novice, 35% intermediate and 48% advanced and expert).
The highest lift is 2,180 meters (7,152 feet), and lowest run is 1,030 meters (3,379 feet). The resort altitude is 1,050 meters, and the max vertical is 1,070 meters. The resort offers 19 kilometers of cross-country skiing and a terrain park as well. The terrain park is broken up by sectors: beginner, intermediate and advanced. The resort is usually open from late June until late September.
The ski school, Escuela de Esqui Alta Patagonia, has classes for skiers and boarders ages 3 and up. There is also a slopeside nursery. The longest descent you can do at Catedral Alta Patagonia is 9 kilometers. The resort has snowmaking with 50 snow cannons on 20 kilometers of its runs.
This is South America’s oldest ski resort, having opened in 1938, and Bariloche is the only true “ski town” in Argentina. The Toronto Star newspaper called this resort the world’s number two ski resort after Aspen, Colorado. Catedral Alta Patagonia also goes by the name Cerro Catedral. The best time to ski in this area is later in the season, especially in August.
Beginner skiers can get access to lower prices, and seniors ages 70 and older can ski for free. Intermediate and advanced skiers will find the best terrain near the back of the resort, including La Laguna. Equipment rental is available. Prices of Catedral Alta Patagonia are typically half that of U.S. ski resorts despite a recent increase in prices. Heliski is also available here.