Cerro Catedral – Catedral Alta Patagonia
Cerro Catedral was named for the granite spires that sit atop the mountain and resemble a gothic church. Catedral is also a church for skiers and snowboarders who visit this Bariloche ski resort to worship the snow god!
Cerro Catedral (aka Catedral Alta Patagonia) is an incredibly aesthetically pleasing ski resort. The views of “the cathedral” are gorgeous and the vistas across Lake Nahuel Huapi fall into the OMG category.
Cerro Catedral is now a very well developed ski resort (by South American standards). The mountain has undergone a transformation with millions of dollars spent on lifts and infrastructure, and Cerro Catedral is one of just a few South American ski resorts to truly have a village at the base.
Catedral Alta Patagonia Ski and Snowboard Terrain
At 1,200 hectares (3,000 acres) Cerro Catedral has the largest lift accessed ski terrain in South America, approximately half of which is off-piste terrain. This mega ski resort has 1,150 metres (3,773 ft) of vertical drop, and 120km of slopes with a split of 15% beginner, 60% intermediate, 20% advanced and 5% expert.
The Cerro Catedral ski resort is best suited to intermediate and advanced riders, and there’s also adequate terrain for beginners. Catedral is known for the good tree skiing, and experts also have a range of alpine off-piste options as well as backcountry chutes and bowls. And for terrain park junkies there’s a decent park.
Monstrous lift lines have been common place at Catedral, although lift infrastructure modernisation continues in an effort to improve uphill capacity. Of the 37 lifts there is a mix of new high speed lifts, elderly slow double chairs that look like hand-me-downs, and a handful of T-bars. Relative to most other South America ski resorts
, the lifts are considered ultra-modern.
Snow is probably not Catedral’s forte and the powder has a reputation for being rather wet at times. Off-piste skiers should absolutely pack the fat powder skis, but not new ones because the base altitude is low and the cover can be somewhat patchy. However in the upper reaches of the ski area the quality and quantity of the snow is much better (the average annual snowfall is 6 metres).
Where is Cerro Catedral Ski Resort?
Cerro Catedral is the Bariloche ski resort, located 20km from the centre of the town of San Carlos de Bariloche
. Cerro Catedral and Bariloche are situated in the Nahuel Huapi National Park in the Rio Negro Province of Argentina’s Lake District.
Bariloche has its own airport located 11km (7 miles) from downtown, with 2 hour flights originating from Buenos Aires, 1,621 km away.
The road between Bariloche and Cerro Catedral is paved and the drive takes about 25 minutes. If you don’t have a car there are semi-regular buses between town and the ski resort, and if you don’t like being packed in like a sardine, the other options are taxis or chauffeurs.
Villa Cerro Catedral Accommodation
The village at the base of Cerro Catedral has a good selection of accommodation within easy reach of the slopes. The 5,000 beds of Cerro Catedral lodging include hotel and guesthouse accommodation. The village has a good range of restaurants, bars, shops, and ski and snowboard facilities.
Alternatively the city of Bariloche
can sleep about 20,000 guests with accommodations ranging from hostels up to 5 star hotels. Bariloche has a rocking nightlife and all the chocolate shops a choc-a-holic could ever dream of.
Cerro Catedral & Bariloche Accommodations Listings
Cost of a Catedral Ski Vacation
An Argentina ski vacation is pretty cheap for most international travellers considering the typically favourable currency exchange. Cerro Catedral in particular provides good value for money, especially when taking into account the well developed lifts and village, and the inexpensive food. It costs a little more than Villa la Angostura
or La Hoya
/Esquel, but Catedral is remarkably inexpensive compared to the over-priced Las Lenas
. It’s also significantly cheaper than some of the Chile ski resorts
that only have resort owned accommodation and facilities.
And if you stay in Bariloche accommodation
, a Catedral ski holiday can be really inexpensive.
When to Visit
Cerro Catedral is definitely not an undiscovered ski resort. It is always crazy busy, and can be really frantic in the peak holiday season in July. Powderhounds shouldn’t despair though, as most of the riders and snowboarders at Catedral are beginners and intermediates. The best time to visit Catedral is probably from mid August onwards.
Guiding and Tours of Cerro Catedral
Advanced and expert riders will get the most out of Cerro Catedral with a guide. A guide will be particularly valuable for some of the best tree skiing exits to ensure you don’t spend an hour hacking out of the dense shrubbery or end up in the creek. One option is to hire a local English-speaking ski instructor such as Bariloche Ski Class
, although they are unable to guide in the backcountry.
SASS Global Travel
are the Catedral specialists and provide fantastic inexpensive 1-5 week programs that include guiding (in-bounds and in the backcountry), accommodation, meals, and full hosting and support to negotiate the language and culture of Argentina.
Another option for a guided tour is with Powder Quest
who offer a 10 day Patagonia Powder Tour that incorporates Cerro Catedral, Cerro Bayo
and La Hoya
. Alternatively Dream Ski Adventures
offer a 14 day tour that also includes Chapelco
Tours That May Include Cerro Catedral