Mallin Alto

Overall Rating

Mallin Alto

Mallin Alto4.8/57
Mallin Alto4.8 out of 5 based on 7 reviews
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Mallin Alto Snowmobile Skiing in Argentina
Mallin Alto Snowmobile Skiing in Argentina
The refugio is deep in the mountains of Patagonia
The refugio is deep in the mountains of Patagonia
One of the guest rooms at Mallin Alto
One of the guest rooms at Mallin Alto
Fantastic views from a guest room
Fantastic views from a guest room
An ATV is also used for uphill transport
An ATV is also used for uphill transport
Sled-accessed snowboarding
Sled-accessed snowboarding
Getting there is half the fun
Getting there is half the fun
The lovely downstairs communal area
The lovely downstairs communal area
Homemade bread with lunch
Homemade bread with lunch
Mallin Alto produces its own meats
Mallin Alto produces its own meats
Downstairs dining area
Downstairs dining area
The Mallin Alto refugio
The Mallin Alto refugio
The lodge has various fireplaces
The lodge has various fireplaces
Plenty of fresh lines
Plenty of fresh lines
Mallin Alto Patagonia
Mallin Alto Patagonia
Sunrise views from the bedroom
Sunrise views from the bedroom
A wood fired hot tub sits on the deck
A wood fired hot tub sits on the deck
Plenty of great food
Plenty of great food
Kao ensures everyone has a great time
Kao ensures everyone has a great time
Mallin Alto Argentina
Mallin Alto Argentina

Mallin Alto

Overall Rating

Mallin Alto4.8/57
Mallin Alto4.8 out of 5 based on 7 reviews

Mallin Alto Sled Skiing & Riding

Mallin Alto near Bariloche in Patagonia Argentina offers backcountry sled skiing in a beautiful setting. Mallin Alto provides a wildly unique ski or snowboard adventure, fresh tracks, and an opportunity to get far far away from the hubbub of Bariloche and Cerro Catedral. Despite its proximity to Bariloche, you’ll feel like you couldn’t be further away from it all.

The staff ride the snowmobile or ATV whilst guests are the passenger, and it’s a fun and fast way to get up the mountain. And with plenty of virgin backcountry lines on offer, going down the mountain via skiing or snowboarding is also fun – obviously!

Staying deep in the Patagonian mountains in the refugio is a large part of the appeal of trips to Mallin Alto. The lodge sits up at 1,650 metres elevation and when it’s not snowing, the views it offers are spectacular. The refugio itself is also beautiful. It’s not a glitzy luxury hotel. Instead it’s a rustic lodge that’s been lovingly hand crafted, is heated via wood fires, and has lots of indulgent comforts. This includes gourmet chef-prepared food that’s cooked on wood-fired stoves or on the open fire, asado style, accompanied by plenty of Argentine wine. See more on the lodging and cuisine here including a video which gives you a tour of the lodge.

Service levels are very attentive, with high staff to guest ratios, and some of the staff speak English (including the guides).

Snowmobile skiing/riding packages are a minimum of 2 days and 2 nights, or you can stay for a week. Packages include guided sled skiing, lodging, full board with alcoholic beverages, and transportation to/from Bariloche. Here are some details on the Mallin Alto packages.

If you have any questions or want to check availability, you can submit a booking request here.

Where is Mallin Alto?

Mallin Alto is on a family owned cattle ranch, complete with gauchos, where the land for grazing the cows extends well into the mountains. The base of the mountain is located only 23 km south from San Carlos de Bariloche (which is home to Cerro Catedral Ski Resort) in Patagonia Argentina, yet the lodge feels a world away! The refugio enjoys a remote location deep in the mountains up at 1,650 metres of elevation. It can only be accessed via a heavy duty 4WD vehicle and then snowmobile or oversnow vehicle.

Flights

Bariloche has a major airport, with lots of flights originating from Buenos Aires, either the Ezeiza Airport (EZE) or the Jorge Newbery Airport aka Aeroparque (AEP). You can look at Skyscanner for flight routes to Buenos Aires and onto Bariloche. Where possible, try to fly in and out of the same Buenos Aires airport, because the transfer across the city between the two airports can be painful.

Bariloche also receives direct flights from Santiago de Chile a couple of times a week and direct flights from São Paulo/Guarulhos.

Travel From Bariloche to Mallin Alto

The staff will pick you up from the Bariloche airport or your Bariloche hotel. The initial part of the trip is in a 4WD vehicle. After passing the land owner’s little shack the real adventure begins as the vehicle heads over rugged tracks, river crossings, and plenty of other fun bumpy 4WDing challenges. The staff drive to the snowline and then you’ll be transported up to the top of the mountain to the refugio via an oversnow vehicle, which is usually a covered UTV (utility terrain vehicle) that has a little heating.

The trip from Bariloche to Mallin Alto takes about 3 hours depending on conditions.

Mallin Alto Snow & Terrain

Terrain

The Mallin Alto tenure has more than 6,000 hectares (15,000 acres) of grazing land for the cows, although only about 30 percent of the area has been well explored for skiing and snowboarding. The terrain is mostly in the alpine or sub-alpine and ranges from elevations of about 1,500m to 2,000m. Sometimes when a big cold storm hits the area, tree skiing amongst the old growth forest is also a possibility.

The runs are mostly open bowls or wide faces with pitches of 25-35 degrees, so it’s well suited to advanced riders as well as strong intermediate riders who have experience with off-piste snow conditions. Runs are often approximately 200 to 250 metres of vertical, and 15 to 20 descents may be made each day. Typically the skiing/snowboarding may go for half a day, and the amount of vertical covered is approximately 3,500 to 4,000 metres, and is dependent on weather and snow conditions, and the ability, speed and preference of the group.

Sled Skiing & Riding

Unlike snowcat skiing, you’ll get up the hill quickly. Mostly the ascents are done with snowmobiles, and depending on guest preference this can be done with the guest sitting on the seat, or by riding half-standing next to the driver. An ATV may also be used depending on snow conditions, weights and preferences, and it offers a slightly slower less adrenaline-fuelled ascent.

Snow

Like anywhere in South America, the quality and quantity of the snow is somewhat variable and can range from sublime to OK. Mallin Alto sometimes gets big cold dumps, whilst at the other end of the spectrum it also gets dry and/or warm spells.

The top elevations are similar to that of Cerro Catedral, yet it’s location in a dry steppe transition area leads to it being a little colder than in Bariloche.

The terrain has plenty of different aspects so the guides can play with wind loaded slopes, shady aspects or solar aspects depending on the conditions.

Season

Snowstorms tend to start in mid May and the Mallin Alto season commences in early June and continues until late October. Cold powder conditions are best from mid-June through to August, whilst September brings a combination of powder and spring skiing, and October brings mild temperatures, longer skiing days and the potential for corn snow.

Mallin Alto Booking Terms & Conditions

Deposit and full payment

  • Deposit is 50% of the cost of the trip
  • The remaining balance is due one month prior to departure
  • Payments can be made via direct bank transfer to a USA account or via Visa Card, Master Card or American Express
  • Credit card payments attract a surcharge of 5%

Cancellation Policy

  • 30% cancellation fee for cancellations made more than 3 months before the start of the trip
  • 50% cancellation fee for cancellations made between 1-3 months prior to trip departure
  • There is no refund for cancellations made less than one month prior to departure. 

Cancellation by Mallin Alto
In these 6 years we never cancelled a program due to bad weather or complications with the route....however in the unforeseeable circumstance that a trip had to be cancelled, Mallin Alto would provide a full refund for the cost of the tour; however, Mallin Alto is not responsible for any additional expenses incurred in preparing for the tour (i.e., airline tickets, equipment purchase or rental, hotel reservations).

Mallin Alto Sled Skiing

Mallin Alto is a magical experience. It’s the complete antithesis of the Cerro Catedral Ski Resort, with its busy slopes and frenzied lift lines. At Mallin Alto you can completely disconnect from it all, time doesn’t really matter, and there’s no competition for fresh lines.

Pros
  • Staying way up deep in the mountains is pretty special. The views are phenomenal and the refugio very charming.
  • The food and beverage offerings are delightful, especially when you consider the remote location and that everything is cooked with a wood stove. Some meals include ranch produced meats cooked the Argentine way, which adds to the cultural experience.
  • Mallin Alto is a boutique experience that only caters to a small number of guests. With a large staff to guest ratio, the service is attentive, and the team have a beautiful enthusiasm for what they do.
  • Heading up the hill on a snowmobile is fast and plenty of fun and a great way to get fresh tracks.
  • The snow conditions tend to be better than those at Cerro Catedral, and obviously you don’t have to share the powder with thousands of people, just a handful.
Pro or Con Depending on Your Perspective
  • The ascents are fast and you can get in plenty of runs. The skiing and snowboarding may only go for a half day, leaving plenty of time for relaxation and enjoying the lodge. If you want to chase an abundance of vertical all day or shred the extreme gnar, you may not feel adequately satisfied.
  • Whilst the experience now includes lots of pampered elements, the trip is still suited to those with an adventurous spirit. For example, getting there is a fun adventure with the bumpy drive, slippery tracks and river crossings, yet princesses may not enjoy it.
  • The experience doesn’t come cheaply, but considering it’s a boutique experience where often there are more staff than guests, and you realise the logistics of the remote mountain location, plus all those fresh lines of snow, you see the value in it.
  • The program for each day is very relaxed and you’ll have to get into the Argentina culture and go with the flow.

 

August 2023
We rate Mallin Alto as being one of our top 10 skiing experiences, so it must have been pretty special! Staying way up in a remote part of the mountains, in unique lodging with beautiful food, phenomenal views, great skiing, and delightful people was truly magnificent and a definite highlight of our ski trip to South America! It was amazing and a special way to disconnect from the world.

Mallin Alto has evolved so much in the 7 years since we last visited. It used to be a wild trip that was high on the adventure spectrum and included a bit of roughing it. Now it still has enough adventure, a little bit of wild, and lots of luxuries thrown in.

Back then, the machine wasn’t too well oiled and the refugio was like glamping. There was one stand-alone dome tent with plastic windows, other guests slept in the mezzanine level above the kitchen, the dining area was tiny, and there was one communal bathroom. Now the handmade lodge has expanded a lot and it’s become rather glam but remained very rustic. It has been a labour of love for Kao and plenty of love has gone into it. The dome tents have large glass windows and are fully integrated with the main building, so they’re not really “tents” anymore and the guest rooms have ensuite bathrooms that have views. The upstairs dining area was somewhat new and the large downstairs dining area and bar were brand new. The views from both were impressive and we have no idea how they got those large windows up there (they didn’t use a helicopter). The food and beverage offerings used to be good and now they’re really impressive. Miguel the chef (who looks just like George Clooney) created masterpieces and entertained the guests with his showmanship, whilst Kao the owner was truly in charge of making sure everyone had a fun time. Overall, the lodging was superb!

Whilst the 4WD drive to get to the snowline was still a bumpy adventure, the on-snow transport has become very comfortable. Rather than sitting on the back of a snowmobile, they now have a UTV with a heater and covered sides.

We’d come from Cerro Catedral where it had been raining and we were worried that the snow at Mallin Alto would be naff considering that both areas are reasonably close and at a similar elevation. However it had been snowing up at Mallin Alto, which apparently is quite common because its location deeper into the mountains provides a bit of a fridge effect. It got colder over the next couple of days and we had a reset each night, mostly from fresh snow plus some wind to provide some extra powder. It wasn’t knee deep powder, but we felt pretty lucky to have lovely boot-deep fresh lines on every run. Most of the terrain consisted of fun open bowls of about 30-35 degrees that usually mellowed out before the snowmobile pick-up.

The guiding was good without being exceptional. Generally the guide +/- the owner on a sled would cut a slope initially, and then on subsequent runs on the same slope the guide would stay at the top and observe from above which seemed appropriate. In addition to slope testing, a snow pit was dug on a couple of occasions but otherwise the focus on safety wasn’t always evident to guests. We didn’t receive a safety briefing and on half the days beacons were not checked in the morning.

The snowcat rating doesn’t apply but the snowmobiles were great and an efficient way to get up the hill that provided adrenaline for those that sought it, or the ATV was a comfortable ascent.

On the face of it, the sled skiing may seem a little expensive. However once there we could see the value associated with it, especially considering how special and remote the setting was, and the high staff to guest ratio. The value became more apparent too after staying at Cerro Catedral where a hotel stay with meh accommodation, lift passes, and food prices had sky rocketed. Mallin Alto costs about the equivalent of cat skiing in Canada and is significantly cheaper than heli skiing in South America. It costs about the same as nearby Baguales cat skiing, and you probably get more skiing with Mallin Alto in about half the time, and Mallin is a boutique experience. It’s pretty special!

An Absolute Bucket List Experience

09/09/2023

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  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • Rider Type
    Skier
  • Rider Ability
    Expert
  • Admin Rating
    5

An Absolute Bucket List Experience

09/09/2023
Beautiful views from the bedrooms
Lots of great food
The new downstairs area
Going up the hill was as fun as down
The new downstairs area
We rate Mallin Alto as being one of our top 10 skiing experiences, so it must have been pretty special!

Staying way up in a remote part of the mountains, in unique lodging with beautiful food, phenomenal views, great skiing, and delightful people was truly magnificent and a definite highlight of our ski trip to South America! It was amazing and a special way to disconnect from the world.

Mallin Alto has evolved so much in the 7 years since we last visited. It used to be a wild trip that was high on the adventure spectrum and included a bit of roughing it. Now it still has enough adventure, a little bit of wild, and lots of luxuries thrown in.
Back then, the machine wasn’t too well oiled and the refugio was like glamping. There was one stand-alone dome tent with plastic windows, other guests slept in the mezzanine level above the kitchen, the dining area was tiny, and there was one communal bathroom. Now the handmade lodge has expanded a lot and it’s become rather glam but remained very rustic. It has been a labour of love for Kao and plenty of love has gone into it. The dome tents have large glass windows and are fully integrated with the main building, so they’re not really “tents” anymore and the guest rooms have ensuite bathrooms that have views. The upstairs dining area was somewhat new and the large downstairs dining area and bar were brand new. The views from both were impressive and we have no idea how they got those large windows up there (they didn’t use a helicopter). The food and beverage offerings used to be good and now they’re really impressive. Miguel the chef (who looks just like George Clooney) created masterpieces and entertained the guests with his showmanship, whilst Kao the owner was truly in charge of making sure everyone had a fun time. Overall, the lodging was superb!

Whilst the 4WD drive to get to the snowline was still a bumpy adventure, the on-snow transport has become very comfortable. Rather than sitting on the back of a snowmobile, they now have a UTV with a heater and covered sides.

We’d come from Cerro Catedral where it had been raining and we were worried that the snow at Mallin Alto would be naff considering that both areas are reasonably close and at a similar elevation. However it had been snowing up at Mallin Alto, which apparently is quite common because its location deeper into the mountains provides a bit of a fridge effect. It got colder over the next couple of days and we had a reset each night, mostly from fresh snow plus some wind to provide some extra powder. It wasn’t knee deep powder, but we felt pretty lucky to have lovely boot-deep fresh lines on every run. Most of the terrain consisted of fun open bowls of about 30-35 degrees that usually mellowed out before the snowmobile pick-up.

The guiding was good without being exceptional. Generally the guide +/- the owner on a sled would cut a slope initially, and then on subsequent runs on the same slope the guide would stay at the top and observe from above which seemed appropriate. In addition to slope testing, a snow pit was dug on a couple of occasions but otherwise the focus on safety wasn’t always evident to guests. We didn’t receive a safety briefing and on half the days beacons were not checked in the morning.

The snowcat rating doesn’t apply but the snowmobiles were great and an efficient way to get up the hill that provided adrenaline for those that sought it, or the ATV was a comfortable ascent.
On the face of it, the sled skiing may seem a little expensive. However once there we could see the value associated with it, especially considering how special and remote the setting was, and the high staff to guest ratio. The value became more apparent too after staying at Cerro Catedral where a hotel stay with meh accommodation, lift passes, and food prices had sky rocketed. Mallin Alto costs about the equivalent of cat skiing in Canada and is significantly cheaper than heli skiing in South America. It costs about the same as nearby Baguales cat skiing, and you probably get more skiing with Mallin Alto in about half the time, and Mallin is a boutique experience. It’s pretty special!

You can also see our thoughts on the pros and cons of Mallin Alto.
See our video here

Mallin Alto, Patagonia - it WILL change your life

Darren Read
06/12/2020
  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • Rider Type
    Snowboarder
  • Rider Age
    36-50
  • Rider Ability
    Strong Intermediate
  • Country
    England
  • Admin Rating
    4

Mallin Alto, Patagonia - it WILL change your life

Darren Read
06/12/2020
I don't say these words lightly - this experience will change your life. I was snowboarding around Chile, Argentina/Patagonia July to September 2019. I have snowboard across Europe, USA, Canada, Japan - and now South America. This IS the place to be each and every year, and Mallin Alto IS the best place to be on the planet. If you do one 1 trip in your season, then make it here.

It is raw, it is luxury, it is incredible, it is being part of a family, it really is. I was collect at my hotel in Bariloche from the owner Kao and his partner. As soon as you meet Kao, he has that vibe in his face, the vibe where you know how knows how to live. It is easy to connect with him. We took a 3 hour drive across their land across bumpy roads and through streams, no mobile phone access, just an emergency radio. We stopped to say hi to his Dad and have a cup of tea, so cool. We swapped to a snow buggy for the last part of the trip and up to the igloos where we were greeted by the staff, although it does not have that feel, it feels like you have just made more friends. Inside, fire on, make more friends, no TV, no music, no phones, it was talking, board games, swapping your travel story’s, and all like minded laid back easy to get on with people, this is not a ‘show off’ place for ‘show off’ people.

Great food by a lovely wonderful cook, then under your 4 duvets and in to bed as the generator goes off overnight - this is proper backcountry. Wake up, generator on, fire on, food, assess the snow, leave when everyone is ready….no stress, no clock. Ride inside your comfort zone, be safe, no waivers like the USA as there is an unspoken rule that you respect the mountain and you respect the crew. It works - this is a long established successful business.

Jump on the side of ski doo - hold on! Then as you go across the top of the first peak, you will shake with adrenaline, you can ride whereever you want!!! (once the snow pack has been assessed). Bowls, chutes, steeps, trees, trees, trees and trees!!! Large open faces! And you can ride all day. The ski doo service is quick, easy, logistically impressive. Give me a Cat, give me a Heli - no way, just get me to Mallin Alto.

I live in London, England, yet each year I will head here, it is that simple. As I said…it WILL change your life, and I love my new friends.
See our video here

Hard to forget and I hope to do it again

Irene Co
16/08/2019
  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • Rider Type
    Skier
  • Rider Age
    36-50
  • Rider Ability
    Advanced
  • Country
    United States
  • Admin Rating
    4

Hard to forget and I hope to do it again

Irene Co
16/08/2019
I went to MA as a part of guided tour. It was the greatest skiing ever... The entire mountain was just for a few of us. Riding snowmobiles was great fun. I would not recommend it to people with abilities below Strong Intermediate/Advanced. The place is relatively far from the nearest town, so you want to make sure you can ski big mountains and not hurt yourself. If you're going for more than one day, it also would help if you go with people you like, but even going alone could be a blast! I hope I can ski/ride these mountains again.
See our video here

Coolest Trip I’ve ever done!!

Elizabeth
07/08/2019
  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • Rider Type
    Snowboarder
  • Rider Age
    18-35
  • Rider Ability
    Strong Intermediate
  • Country
    Australia
  • Admin Rating
    4

Coolest Trip I’ve ever done!!

Elizabeth
07/08/2019
This is probably the coolest thing I’ve ever done. I had the best time. The skiing and the views were amazing (the runs were super long and I got more vertical per day then I would riding the lifts at a resort, and all on fresh powder). Riding the snowmobiles with the crew there was maybe ever more fun than the skiing and they did an amazing job while we were going down to go scope out new locations and fresh powder stashes for us to ride, we ended up so far out there in the middle of mountains, it was a humbling experience to see how wild and vast it is out there.

The hut is in a beautiful location, it is warm and clean on the inside, I stayed in one of the private rooms and it had a comfy bed, a nice bathroom, a fireplace and amazing views. The food was delicious with hot meals 3 times a day and there is local home brew beer on tap and a wine cellar. Everyone working there was friendly and helpful. I loved it!
See our video here

Unique Solo Ski Experience

24/08/2018

Sadaf Ayub

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Sadaf Ayub

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  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • Rider Type
    Skier
  • Rider Age
    18-35
  • Rider Ability
    Advanced
  • Country
    USA
  • Admin Rating
    5

Unique Solo Ski Experience

24/08/2018
I decided very last minute (only two days in advance) to hop over from Chile to Argentina alone to attend this trip. As a female solo traveler (who doesn't speak Spanish) in Argentina for the first time, I had no idea what I was getting into, but this ended up being one of the best ski experiences of my life. Kao (the owner) did everything possible to make my stay as comfortable and awesome as possible, including finding me an English speaking guide to translate for me on mountain and in the lodge.

There was another small group of 5 people at the lodge for part of my stay that I spent time skiing and socializing with, but I also very much enjoyed skiing alone with the guide and relaxing in the quiet dome once the group had left.

Snow/Terrain -- I visited during an unusually low snow season and there had not been any recent snowfall on the region. Somehow we were still able to find some stashes of untouched or wind blown powder with the help of Kao's expert knowledge of the mountain. Given the circumstances, I can't think of a better place to have been skiing in the region, and can only imagine how amazing this place is after a fresh snowfall. This place is massive, like a ski resort to yourself, with plenty of variety of terrain. I did not grow tired of the options, I never had to ski over anyone else's tracks, and got to ski everything from long wide-open cruisers to rocky steep faces. I was able to ski a new zone of the area each of my 3 days.

Snowmobiles -- The most efficient way to ski! It was really quick loading back up the mountain to do a lot of long runs (15-20 in just a few hours) and explore new terrain options in different areas of the mountain. Much faster than a snowcat or ski lift, but a lot more exciting! I felt safe and comfortable riding on the snowmobiles with our guides.

Transportation -- Super timely and an adventure on its own. I got a call as soon as my flight arrived in Bariloche and the driver was waiting for me outside the airport. The off-road journey to Mallin Alto is definitely a part of the rugged experience that I enjoyed.

Lodging/Meals -- The hut itself is unexpectedly luxurious for how remote it is. Safe drinkable water, adequate warmth from the wood stoves, and comfortable beds. I slept two nights upstairs in the dome which is the warmest room in the lodge (but without any view.) The third night I switched rooms to sleep in the smaller dome that had an incredible view of the stars at night and sunrise in the morning. The meals were a major highlight of the experience! Breakfasts, lunches, and dinners featured delicious local cuisine and wine carefully prepared by the chefs.

I will definitely be visiting again!
See our video here

Fantastic backcountry skiing - without the hike!

Deane
24/08/2017
  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • Rider Type
    Skier
  • Rider Age
    12-17
  • Rider Ability
    Advanced
  • Country
    United States
  • Admin Rating
    5

Fantastic backcountry skiing - without the hike!

Deane
24/08/2017
Wood fired heater in our room
Great tree skiing
Backcountry access without the hiking!
Not quite powder-8's, but great untracked lines
My son (age12) and I just returned from a fantastic 2 day, 2 night stay at Mallin Alto. We highly recommend this adventure.

Getting to the Dome
Our adventure began during the insertion to Mallin Alto. Carlos picked us up at our hotel in Bariloche around 5pm. We drove for about a hour out of town until the road ended at a remote ranch owned by Kao’s great uncle (age 86!). They called this “stage1”. During “stage2” we were soon fording rivers that were up to the floor boards of the car. At points we were driving straight up the stream bed itself. “Stage3” started at the snow line where we transferred to a tracked vehicle that took us up to the domes which are perched in a remote alpine setting. It was snowing so hard that we had to wait another full day before we could see the amazing views. Living in the dome was very relaxed and quite comfortable. The food was excellent and the wood burning stove/heaters made for a great atmosphere. However, we would not recommend Mallin Alto for those who have “high maintenance” standards.

Skiing
There are seemingly endless lines with great terrain at Mallin Alto. We had great snow during our visit to Mallin Alto. High winds, snow and clouds on the first day kept us skiing mostly in the trees with a few late-afternoon runs higher on an open ridge. Second day after the wind died, we enjoyed repeated laps on wide-open lines in untracked, light powder. Amazing! In our opinion, a skier who is comfortable skiing black diamond runs at a resort in a full range of snow conditions (powder, crud, wind slab, hard pack, trees) will get the most out of a visit to Mallin Alto. We also found that wide skis were a definite advantage in Mallin Alto’s snow conditions.

Snowmobiles
Kao and his team are master snowmobile drivers which allows them to summit steep terrain and maneuver between tight trees. As other reviewers have said, riding a snowmobile is a thrilling, demanding and active process. You don’t get the same rest between runs as you do on a lift or cat skiing. Our max was 14 runs on the second day for a vertical of 12,000 feet.

Overall
Kao and his extended family/team are excellent hosts. Memories from our Mallin Alto adventure will last a lifetime.
See our video here

An Amazing Adventure

06/09/2016

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  • Would Revisit
  • Rider Type
    Skier
  • Rider Age
    36-50
  • Rider Ability
    Expert
  • Admin Rating
    5

An Amazing Adventure

06/09/2016
The refugio / hut
The view from bed
Hard not to have a good time out in the backcountry
Hot tub action
Morning skiing
Whilst the snow quality wasn’t particularly favourable to bucket list powder skiing, the overall experience at Mallin Alto was definitely the highlight of our ski trip to South America. It was amazing! Staying way up in a remote part of the mountains, in unique lodging with beautiful food, phenomenal views, and delightful people was truly magnificent.

The trip definitely would not have suited princesses or the unadventurous. Some funny things happened whilst we were away – keep your mind open!

Travel
It took a mighty long time to get there but this was part of the adventure! We travelled in an old 4WD car and stopped along the way at the land owners shack, an amusing legendary old man who lives with the gauchos and tries to make something of the land. They were cooking some sort of armadillo looking creature in a pot, and it smelled disgusting so it was time to get out of there!

The trail became super bumpy as we crossed creeks and rocks. When we reached the snow line we transferred to snowmobiles and an ATV 4-wheeler (thank god we’d packed reasonably lightly!). Sure we got bogged along the way which now provides an adventurous tale or two, but we arrived safely at the warm hut at the top of the mountain to be greeted with snacks and a bevvie.

Lodging:
The main hut was like a cubby house with dome tents (like yurts) attached to it – Kao’s little creation that he keeps adding parts to. This whole experience was uber rustic yet the lodging had more than enough creature comforts to keep us very happy. We stayed in the private “honeymoon suite” (the separate dome tent) which felt somewhat luxurious with its wood fired heater. A definite highlight was the big window that afforded the most amazing views across the mountain. At night time there was a small glow of the snow capped mountains and as the sun started to rise it was difficult to continue sleeping because I just wanted to gawk at the views.

The hot tub added to the whole relaxing experience. It was wood fired and sitting on the corner of the deck, it also afforded spectacular views.

The food was pretty amazing. Our chef (we called him the Argentine George Clooney) was a bit of a marvel at creating lovely food, especially considering the location we were in.

Sled Skiing:
Obviously the snowcat rating isn’t applicable.
We missed the most amazing skiing by a couple of days. A big dump of snow had hit the Bariloche area but then the temps had warmed a little, so the snow quality was far from optimal. As there’s only a little bit of tree skiing at Mallin Alto, most of the snow is unprotected from the sun and elements, although there are some good aspects that are shady.

Not having done sled skiing before, I was a little surprised at how much energy it took to ride up on the sled on the side (and more so when occasionally I was towed behind). Super fun of course, but more tiring than snowcat or heli skiing.

Whilst you could easily do 2000-5000 metres of vertical each day, we chose to keep the skiing to just the morning (when the snow was soft but nice) and then hit the deck for some R&R, hot tubbing, wine and more food!

Value:
On the face of it, the sled skiing may seem a little expensive, particularly considering it’s not luxurious accommodation. However once we got there we could definitely see the value associated with it, especially considering how special the setting was. Firstly there’s just the logistics of getting guests, gear, food and drinks up to the hut. High staff to guest ratios are also required to manage the logistics once up at the hut, whether it be lighting the fire for the shower or the hot tub, or the amazing food. The service levels were very high, and the staff ever so friendly.

Overall:
It was a bit of a shame that we didn’t hit Mallin Alto with primo conditions, but it seemed that skiing or snowboarding is really only one small part of the experience. Being out in the remote backcountry and living it up was pretty special!
See our video here
Mallin Alto Packages
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Sled Access Backcountry Skiing DETAILS

SLED ACCESS BACKCOUNTRY SKIING & RIDING
Bariloche Argentina

Book before 1st March for 20% off advertised price
Location: South America | Tour Focus: Guided | Terrain Focus: Backcountry
Ability: Strong Intermediate to Expert
Price p/p From price based on 3 night plus 3 ski day package for 2024
Base/invoice currency is in USD inc taxes.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
USD 3,600
Backcountry snowmobile skiing and snowboarding. Full Argentine adventure experience & stay in a rustic mountain refugio that offers magnificent views. 3-7 day packages that include guided sled skiing, lodging, gourmet cuisine, drinks, and transport. More
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Custom Booking Period: Jun 01 - Oct 15, 2024
Min Days: From 3
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Availability: Available
Future rates & dates are currently not yet available for this operator. Click here to enquire.
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