Cerro Chapelco Lifts & Terrain


Cerro Chapelco Lifts & Terrain

Our Terrain Ratings

Powderhound rating = advanced/expert terrain + powder + freshies + uncrowded

Our Terrain Ratings

Powderhound rating = advanced/expert terrain + powder + freshies + uncrowded
  • Cerro Chapelco Trail Map
  • Vertical (m)
    1,250 – 1,970 (720)
  • Average Snow Fall
    8.9  metres
  • Lifts (12)
    1 gondola
    1 fast quad
  • Ski Season
    mid June - mid Oct
  • Terrain Summary
    Runs – 22
    Longest run – 5.3 km
    Expert - 20%
    Advanced - 30%
    Intermediate - 25%
    Beginner - 25%

Chapelco Ski and Snowboard Terrain

The official statistic of 140 hectares of skiable terrain at Chapelco seems to underestimate the size of the resort. In reality it is a medium sized resort (relative to other South America ski resorts) and one can only assume that Chapelco has just counted the piste runs in the stat.

The ski terrain can loosely be categorised into three vertical parts. The lower part of the resort is serviced by a triple chair and the telecabina (gondola). The terrain is pretty flat and consists of a few groomed intermediate runs and the snaking Camino beginner trail. The base area elevation is 1,250 metres, and even though this is higher than that of Cerro Bayo or Cerro Catedral, the snow conditions in this area can be pretty sketchy.

The gondola unloads at a mid-mountain hub where there are a few restaurants and other facilities such as ski school. The magic carpet serviced novice ski area is located here. This middle section also consists of groomed intermediate trails, as well as very mellow tree skiing that can be rather fun when the snow conditions are prime.

The upper part of the ski resort is above the tree-line and consists of a few groomed runs for intermediates as well as off-piste slopes. The terrain here is a little steeper than the lower parts of the mountain, but there’s nothing that will make experts quiver in their boots. Rock features and little gullies make things a little more interesting, and in low visibility the huge cornices can make things REALLY interesting – keep your eyes peeled! This alpine area has three peaks. Cerro Teta is in the middle and has the steepest in-bounds terrain. Cerro Escalonado is to lookers’ right and has the Filo area (red runs) and the sidecountry La Pala area. Cerro Mocho is to the looker’s left and has some short black runs.

Chapelco Lifts

The Silla Cuadruple Rancho Grande is a super fast detachable chair that flies up the hill. You need to have your neck gaitor on because even when there’s not a breath of wind, the speed of the chair makes it feels like it’s really windy! The up-hill capacity of this lift is very grande, but the resulting problem is the traffic on the associated runs. You’ll need to keep your wits about you (as you do at most Argentina ski resorts!).

Other than the gondola, the rest of the lift infrastructure consists of slow chairs or surface lifts. Lift queues commonly develop, although at the gondola and detachable quad chair, sometimes it’s not a queue for the lift that’s the problem, but rather a bottleneck to get through the ticket gate because the electronic tickets don’t work very well in pockets. It’s quite a sight to watch piles of skiers and snowboarders making love to the gates just to get through! As is typical in Argentina, the queuing can get rather disorderly and the staff don’t facilitate lift loading. There are no singles lines and often there are only two people sitting on a quad chair or in the gondola. Perhaps they are trying to improve romance prospects?!

Lift Tickets

Lift tickets are up there as some of the most expensive in Argentina, but thankfully the currency exchange works favourably for most international visitors. Children are considered to be 6 to 11 years of age, whilst kiddies 0 to 5 years are free. The electronic pass attracts a small refundable fee.

Chapelco accepts credit card payments for lift tickets and like some other Argentina ski resorts, you may need a PIN (ie you can’t just sign), and they may require ID such as a photocopy of your passport. Anyone would think you’re buying a new pair of skis on your credit card?!

Chapelco Snow

As is typical of South America, the Chapelco snow conditions are highly variable, and to further reduce the likelihood of great snow conditions, the slopes are north to northwest facing. One day we visited, the snow cover was marginal at the base, it was mushy in the middle, and the alpine section was icy and wind scoured.

Like other Lakes District ski resorts, the powder tends to be wet. We visited on a big powder day, and the pow was really really heavy. The tree skiing was impossible even with big fat planks on, whilst the alpine areas had just enough pitch to get a little momentum happening. Powder hounds should definitely pack the fat skis or powder board.

Whilst snow quality may not be Chapelco’s forte, the ski resort does well in the quantity stakes with an average of 8.9 metres (350 inches) of snow per season. If Mother Nature is not doing her thing adequately, Chapelco can cheat a little by using their snow-making cannons (they only have a few though, so don’t get too excited!).

For the Beginner

All the beginners’ terrain is below the tree line so it is protected from any inclement weather. The magic carpet serviced novice area is at the mid-mountain hub, so the littlies and first-timers have to upload and download the gondola. The next progression is to hit Camino, a gentle trail that weaves down the mountain through the lenga forest. At 5.3km in length, it is guaranteed to tire the hell out of snow ploughers!

Intermediate Ski and Snowboard Terrain

With 25% blue runs and 30% red runs, intermediates are likely to be adequately entertained for a week long ski vacation at Chapelco. Some of the intermediate runs are serviced by the super fast quad chair, so you’ll get lots of vertical in each day.

Chapelco Terrain Park

Chapelco has a small terrain park within a dedicated area just below the tree line. The terrain park has a few jumps, rails, and boxes, and sometimes a quarter pipe is set up.

Advanced Skiing Chapelco

Confident intermediates and advanced riders can hit the low angle trees in the mid section of the ski resort. The hairy trees are very widely spaced and they have no low branches so they’re really easy to get around, although the bamboo can be a bit of a bitch!

Balcones in the lower part of the resort is generally a bumps run, otherwise the rest of the advanced terrain is up in the alpine. Small areas off Cerro Teta have some steeps, but largely it’s pretty tame (unless crap snow conditions make it really gnarly!). The other limitation is that the alpine lifts are commonly closed in inclement weather or after a snowfall.

Expert Ski and Snowboard Terrain

The in-bounds area has a few cheeky expert-only terrain features such as little chutes, gullies, rocks, and pesky cornices that sneak up on you in low vis. However the terrain is limited and Chapelco may only entertain experts for a couple of days, and only when the alpine areas are open and snow conditions are good. Experts will want to head into the side-country when conditions permit.

Chapelco has future plans to expand the resort over into the back bowls, which will create more lift accessed terrain for experts. Currently Chapelco runs a Mickey Mouse over-priced cat skiing operation out here, or touring is also possible.


The top of the Filo poma lift provides access to La Pala. This area is marked on the trail map but it’s not patrolled or actively controlled for avalanches, so it should definitely be treated as the backcountry. La Pala can be accessed via a traverse or a 5 minute hike up to get more vertical. This sidecountry zone has some chutes and bowls, and it feeds down into trees before a traverse back into the resort. The return traverse can be a little tricky to find, so head out with a guide from ski school or wait until the track is clearly set by other riders.