Chapelco Ski Resort Argentina
Cerro Chapelco near San Martín de los Andes
is a striking destination for a ski vacation. The dramatic views of Volcan Lanin and the turquoise Lake Lácar make a spectacular backdrop.
Chapelco is a modern ski resort with great facilities, including lots of amenities that make it an attractive spot for families.
Cerro Chapelco Ski and Snowboard Terrain
At only 140 hectares of skiable terrain and with 22 trails, Cerro Chapelco isn’t particularly large, yet Chapelco provides 730 metres of vertical drop; more than enough to get the thighs pumping. The modern lift infrastructure (by South American standards) includes a gondola and detachable quad chair lift, so you’ll be able to score plenty of vertical each day.
Chapelco has piste trails for beginners, intermediates, advanced riders and experts, with a split of 25, 25, 30 and 20 percent respectively. For the little kiddies there are really mellow slopes serviced by magic carpets. Chapelco also attempts to cater to freestylers with a small terrain park.
The ski resort sits partially below the tree line within an old growth forest that hasn’t been marred by deforestation, offering mellow tree skiing that can be a bit of fun with the right snow conditions. Amongst the old forest eerie moss (Devil’s Beard) drapes from the Lenga trees, a sure sign that there is not a hint of air pollution. The colour of the hairy trees makes a beautiful yet ethereal contrast against the snowy landscape.
The upper parts of the ski resort are treeless, which is more typical of skiing in South America
. These alpine areas offer off-piste riding amongst large bowls, gullies and rocky outcroppings, so there are some good nooks and crannies to explore. Steep and gnarly terrain can be found in the side-country where there are chutes and bowls.
Where is Cerro Chapelco?
Cerro Chapelco ski resort is located 20km (12 miles) from the town of San Martin de los Andes
in Argentina, a 20 minute trip by car or shuttle bus. Chapelco is located in the southwest corner of the province of Neuquén in the Lakes District. It is situated at the start of Los 7 Lagos
Ruta, a stretch of road that boasts gorgeous scenery.
San Martin de los Andes is 1,565km (973 miles) southwest of Buenos Aires and a 3 hour drive north of San Carlos de Bariloche
, depending on the route taken. Bariloche is a common gateway airport, with flights originating from Buenos Aires
. There is also an airport in San Martin but it’s rather weather plagued.
San Martín de Los Andes
Most visitors to Chapelco stay in San Martín de los Andes
where accommodation includes luxury hotels, more basic hotels and inns, houses to rent, cabins and hostels.
San Martin is embedded as part “of the Andes” and sits on the coast of Lake Lácar between high peaks. With a population of about 25,000 the town is large enough to offer plenty for tourists, yet small enough to retain its alpine charm which is enhanced by the low rise Swiss-style timber architecture. The town has an abundance of arts and craft shops, ski shops, restaurants, and chocolate shops.
San Martin de Los Andes Accommodations Listings
Chapelco Ski Resort Facilities and Activities
Chapelco is a well established ski resort with lots of facilities and services. In addition to a ski and snowboard school, the resort offers equipment rentals, lots of restaurants, and child care. Other activities include snowshoeing, snowmobiling and dog sledding.
More Reasons to Ski or Snowboard at Cerro Chapelco
Chapelco is a family oriented mountain with largely modern infrastructure and terrain that caters to a range of ability levels. Families or intermediates will enjoy a week-long ski vacation in Chapelco and San Martin. More experienced riders will probably want to experience Chapelco as part of a Patagonia ski tour.
Dream Ski Adventures
offer a 14 day guided and hosted tour that incorporates Chapelco, Cerro Bayo, Cerro Catedral, and La Hoya.
The Powderhounds have provided Chapelco with the following “best skiing in South America
How Does Chapelco Compare to Cerro Catedral and Cerro Bayo?
- Overall terrain
- Family oriented
- Lift infrastructure
- Chapelco is a bigger ski resort than Cerro Bayo but significantly smaller than Catedral.
- Chapelco has more variety for intermediates relative to Cerro Bayo.
- Chapelco doesn’t have the same steeps and the tree skiing has a very gentle pitch.
- The views are delightful but they are not a patch on those at Catedral or Bayo.
- Chapelco has better lift infrastructure than Cerro Bayo.
- Chapelco is highly trafficked but it’s not half as busy as Cerro Catedral.
- Chapelco facilities are more developed than those at Cerro Bayo.
- Whilst Catedral and Bayo cater reasonably well to families, Chapelco is much more family oriented.
- An adult lift ticket is more expensive at Chapelco.
- The base of Chapelco is about 200 metres higher than the other two ski resorts, so top to bottom skiing is a higher probability. However the top elevation of Catedral is higher, so the snow quality at the top is generally far superior.
- Unfortunately the slopes at Chapelco are largely north facing so the snow isn’t as ship-shape as Cerro Bayo where many of the trails are south facing.
- Chapelco gets 8.9 metres of snowfall per season on average, versus Bayo and Catedral that only get 6 metres.
- In relation to the associated ski towns, San Martin is similar to Villa la Angostura except that San Martin is larger. Relative to Bariloche, San Martin de los Andes is classier, more modern, and much more relaxed.
For a further comparison of these Patagonia ski resorts, see our powderhounds resort ratings
Tours That May Include Chapelco