Ski Mountaineering in Argentina
We've divided this page into the following areas listed in geographical order from North to South .
The southern Andes have some great ski touring and mountaineering terrain. From accessible day trips near some fine downhill resorts to committing expedition skiing on the Patagonian ice-caps. In between are some very quiet and scenic mountain areas with excellent ski-mountaineering and ski-touring terrain. For some brief details of ski-mountaineering ascents see the guidebook written by John Biggar - The Andes, A Guide for Climbers.
Puna & Agua Negra
In general there is insufficient snow on the peaks of the Puna de Atacama in the north of Chile and Argentina to give good skiing, although the larger glacier on the third highest Andean summit - Pissis - might be worthwhile.
A very snowy view of Ojos del Salado, 6893m, taken in January 2010. This is the most snow I've ever seen on this peak and makes it just about skiable at least on the upper sections. However looking at the rocks I would take an old pair of skis.! This picture does show that with the right conditions, the high Puna peaks could be a viable high altitude ski destination.
Of course if it is too hot and not snowy enough to ski you can always take up sandboarding... good fun and you don't get cold hands.!
Skiing at over 4500m at the Paso del Agua Negra... the peaks in the background are over 6000m high. Skiing was a bit thin by the road here but we set off on a good short tour up a small glacier just the next day.
There is some great ski-touring around Mendoza, at heights of 2500-4000m, all accessible within a two or three hour drive of Mendoza. The city has relaxing hotels, great food and wine and is usually pretty warm in the ski season.!
Skiing down the closed off pistes at Vallecitos, by mid-October there wasn't so much snow left in the Cordon del Plata, but this was a lean year.
Skiing at 4000m in the Quebrada Matienzo, near Aconcagua, Argentina, October 2009.
Heading in to the mountains and the Quebrada Matienzo. The big peak is the 4900m high Matienzo. We skied from the smaller peak on the ridge running towards the camera (c. 4200m).
Las Leņas & Sosneado Area
Near the small ski resort of Las Leņas is some very accessible and normally great ski touring, at altitudes of up to 4000m. Recommended are tours to El Soldado and Cerro Deshecho, also the peaks of La Horqueta and Las Hoyadas near Los Molles. the next valley north is the very remote Atuel river, there are one or two good tours up here as well and it is worth visiting just for the remote and idyllic scenery.
Skinning up towards the rock pinnacle of El Soldado, above Las Leņas, on a hot afternoon in late September.... and below, climbing in the early morning past Volcan Sosneado, the most southerly 5000m peak in the Andes.
Chris skiing down from the Mirador del Sosneado.
Big smiles after what was our best (and fastest) descent, just a ten minute walk back to the mountain hut for a brew now.!
Often labelled as the highest peak in Patagonia Volcan Domuyo lies entirely in Argentina north of the town of Chos Malal. There are some large and steep glaciers on the mountains south and eastern side. it makes a good ski objective on its own, taking 3 or 4 days to climb and descend, and there are several other good peaks in the area.
Volcan Domuyo from the southwest in winter. The route is more or less up the right hand side of the photo.
Skiing down from the summit of Domuyo, October 2006. High camp was in the centre of the picture.
Andean Lake District
One of the best places to go are the volcanoes of the Andean Lake district in central-southern Chile and Argentina. We have skied to the summits of Copahue and several smaller peaks around the city of Bariloche. Several other peaks, notably Lanin and maybe Tronador will also make good ascents. All these ascents are featured in the guidebook written by John Biggar - The Andes, A Guide for Climbers.
Skiing Volcan Lanin, Chile-Argentina border.
San Lorenzo, the highest peak in this area which lies on the Chile-Argentina border, can make a good ski ascent too.
The Patagonian ice-caps provide some superb skiing terrain, though the weather is not always great. I have been on three trips to this area including partial crossings of both the north and south Patagonian ice-caps. Twice with stunning good weather, once with atrocious weather.... The picture above was taken on a ski ascent of Volcan Lautaro 3580m, a remote volcano in the centre of the southern ice-cap.
Two shots of icebergs in Laguna San Rafael, This is one of the main starting points for access to the North Patagonian icecap.
Pictured below dragging sledges towards San Valentin, the highest mountain in Patagonia, located on the eastern fringes of the Hielo Patagoina Norte.
A beautiful and tranquil sunset at the Paso Marconi camp, South Patagonian ice-cap........... ........and digging out the tents in a blizzard 36 hours later
Tierra del Fuego
There are a few fairly accessible ski options on the Argentine side of Tierra del Fuego island. A number of good short ski peaks can be done form Paso Garibladi to the east of Ushuaia, and nearer the town the small ski fields at Cerro Castor and Glaciar Martial have short backcountry options as well. However in many places access to the snow is a bit difficult due to the impenetrable forests.
Skiing near Paso Garibaldi, Tierra del Fuego.
Skining up a peak in the Darwin range, Tierra del Fuego.