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Cerro Catedral

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 
Decided I couldn't wait until next year and booked a week in Argentina in August. Has anyone been to this location that has any helpful info. I've never skied outside of US.

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post #2 of 6

As is often the case, the search function on the usual sites, including this one,  will be your friend.


In short: Argentina is not the USA. Bariloche is a long way away. Cerro Catedral is not run like Vail. It is fun. Some things to think about:


Leave lots of margin for everything. I found Argentina interesting in that nothing seems to work right, but the important stuff always gets sorted out. Eventually. This is likely true of transit. It can be true on the mountain (leading to some funny and/or maddening lift situations). Just go with it,


If you are routing through BA, the international airport is not the same as the domestic one. If you need to make the switch between them, allow for getting luggage, clearing customs, getting from one airport to the other, etc. If you have not been to Argentina, there is a fee for an entry stamp for your passport (cash only IIRC - but good for subsequent visits). Per the paragraph above, this can be quick and easy, or it can be a half hour PITA  (probably easier with fluent Spanish).


Lots of eateries in and near Bariloche. IMO, two notable ones are the Italian place down by Llao Llao, and Butterfly hidden in town (if it is still there). The tasting menu at Butterfly was truly notable at a foodie level - but not cheap per se. There are some more local joints, but my friend who lives there told me I would die if I mentioned them as he thinks most places are touristy these days. If you find the last of the local places, they are cheap and offer good food. While everyone goes down there looking for cheap fist sized steaks, my impression is that milanesa is a locals' favorite.  


The mountain is big and scenic and IMO pretty nice. Note though that the lifts should have started 500 feet higher on the mountain --things can get sketchy down low. The top is often windswept. Which is good and bad. As you explore the mountain, pay attention to what the wind is doing. All the snow scraped from one place ends up in another...


The scenery in the area is spectacular. Some sweet short hikes if you need a day off from skiing or the mountain is closed for whatever reason.


Practice at least a few words of Spanish (with the Argentine double L thing). Or go with someone who speaks Spanish. At least as of a few years ago, most of the folks in the area (staff or guests) did not speak much in the way of English.


Never use the word "Falklands" wink.gif Do not laugh if you run into the Argentine army's winter warfare division training on the mountain using K2 Fours or even more primitive skis.


If you have time, check out BA for a day or two. Very interesting city.

Edited by spindrift - 6/30/13 at 7:24pm
post #3 of 6

Here are a few threads that may help you

And the product page


Sure sounds like a great way to escape the heat of summer.  Don't forget to post a TR when you're back home. 


post #4 of 6
Thread Starter 
Thank you both for the help and replies. I'm pretty nervous about the trip for a number of reasons. I just started skiing again in the past few years but caught the bug pretty bad. I'm nervous about not speaking Spanish and trying to negotiate a new ski resort in a different country! Even here in the US it takes me a day or so to find my bearings at a new mountain so I'm sure this will be an adventure.

I'm staying at Llao Llao so ill try and hit those eateries Spin thanks.

I'll be sure to take a lot of pics and do a TR when I get back.

Praying for snow!!
post #5 of 6

I suspect you will have a fun time. Especially if you look at it as a bit of travel adventure or a novel experience that hopefully delivers some good skiing. In light of your comments, and since I have some time to kill, a few more observations (ok, a short novel...):




- The culture is late to bed, late to rise. Most places do not even start dinner service until 8:30, give or take. And it is "families with kids" time until around 10:00. Getting up early is atypical.

- Given your stated command of Spanish  - just apply the words of one of my kids who has traveled some crazy places: being nice, smiling, nodding and pointing can get you by almost anywhere. 

- Do some googling and see if it worth having a few spare dollars in cash. I know there have been some crazy exchange rate things going on and I'd guess that if you hire guides or instructors, that tips or even pay in dollars might play well. Worth some investigation. Likewise, there may be safe ways of optimizing the exchange rate in your favor.

- As I mentioned before, lots of things go a bit sideways down there. Go with it. While you do not want to get played for a sucker, a little friendliness and humility go a very long way. Staff most places seemed to try pretty hard to make things work in a system that does not always make it easy for them.

- Watch your stuff. Not an issue at Llao Llao - but in general, things can walk away quickly in Argentina. Wallets, phones, purses, cameras, packs - even if on a table in front of you, can go AWOL in the blink of an eye. This stuff is well known & you can read up on it. I never felt my personal safety was threatened, but unwatched/unanchored stuff is at risk of walking away. 


Llao Llao: Not the core way to do it but you get some benefits from staying at the fanciest resort in town. My friend down there feels that it is the easiest way to get your bearings on a first trip and sort out if you'd be interested in a different gig next time (as long as you are not firmly committed to doing it on the cheap or being in town to start with).  Not the cheapest way to go, but it is efficient in several dimensions.


- Key staff - notably concierge - are fluent or competent in English.

- The concierge/bell closet sort of across from the front the front desk makes for handy ski storage.

- Daily shuttle to and from the mountain. Yes you can drive, but IMO it is a PITA. The shuttle schedule is good enough. If you book first shuttle, you will likely collide with the "late to rise" culture. But they will deal - especially if you offer up a sincere thank you or two for the service. And by taking the shuttle, you avoid the parking hell that fires up on busy days.

- The refugio at the mountain - Llao Llao has a private setup at the base of the mountain. Lockers, meals, hot chocolate, rentals, lessons, lift tickets (depending) can be had right there. Although once we had the hang of things, we found it more efficient to buy our tickets directly at the ticket office. Food service is not always fast, but it is tasty enough and the setup is super convenient and reasonably enough priced (by US resort standards anyway). I'd explore some other food too (some fun stuff up on the hill), but the refugio is super handy - especially if everything else is crowded or the weather goes to crap. Shuttle pickups meet there.

- There is a rental car operation at the Llao Llao (Hertz I think). No need to rent a car for the whole stay unless you just want it. For my .02, between the shuttle and reasonably priced cabs (including to/from the airport), you generally come out ahead skipping the rental car. Both in terms of money and hassle.

- Breakfast at Llao Llao is excellent. It seemed to me to be a rare exception to both time of day norms and efficiency norms (although if you want anything custom cooked, allow a little time). Load up before hopping the shuttle. Dinner options are good enough that if you don't feel like heading into town, life is still good and convenient. The Italian place is literally 2 minutes by shuttle from LLao Llao.

- A couple amazing day hikes with incredible views are right out the door & around the golf course & up....

- High tea rocks. Not free (IIRC), but it'll hold you until dinner at 10:00 give or take. Or you can really fill up and call it an early dinner. Very nice. Tasty. Relaxing form of apres. Lots of folks dress up, but if you are just rolling back from the hill, they deal well with Goretex. biggrin.gif

- Afternoon/evening Tango lessons offer a social change of pace. I'm not a dance type - but IIRC they are free for guests and well regarded.

- The big downside: It is not the most convenient location with respect to the mountain or the main part of town. You are sort of ensconced in a bit of a castle. Gotta do some work if you want to just hang in town, catch the dirtbag scene, etc.. OTOH, if you want a good night's sleep vs all night partying, it works well. When we booked a cab to the locals' place our buddy pointed us to in town, the concierge sort of gasped and asked how we'd even heard of it. I think we were their first guests ever to go there (a big tasty milenesa, salad, wine or beer, desert, and coffee for less than a beer in Norway).  My interpretation of this was that if you connect with the concierge a bit, they can in fact point you to less touristy places that are cool to check out - if you are so inclined and they actually believe you. OTOH, the higher end places were  totally on their radar. You get the idea...


The hill:


- Ski the upper mountain to the extent weather allows. Better snow and cool views from the ridge. The lower mountain is more of a maze of cat tracks with bits of groomers or tree skiing (which I know is there, but I failed to find).

- Lift ops can be spotty and constantly changing. Odds are even that you'll get dead ended half way up one side of the mountain - or be one of the first 5 chairs on a lift that was not expected to open (both happened to me).  Accept all that and go with it. If you want to ski nicer off piste snow, do not be afraid to traverse a bit up high. The place is full of people who are not adept skiers and they cluster on the beginner and  intermediate pistes. A hundred yards of traversing to escape the crowds and get a slightly tweaked aspect can deliver a whole lot of vertical of nice powder - all in plain sight (obviously depending on the day). Be aware of wind scrubbed places though.

- If they are downloading off the lower mountain, it is usually wise to take the ride. That is unless you prefer to ski mud and rocks - or do a several hundred foot mud glissade on your butt. 

- For us, the weather was incredibly variable - hour to hour and day to day. And it seems to have that reputation in general. You guessed it, just go with it...


FWIW, I just tripped into this post





FYI Argentina changed the 90 day visa on arrival rule 

ENTRY / EXIT REQUIREMENTS FOR U.S. CITIZENS: A valid passport is required for U.S. citizens to enter Argentina. U.S. citizens do not need a visa for visits of up to 90 days for tourism or business. As a result of a recent change in Argentine law, prior to arrival in Argentina at any entry point, U.S. citizen tourist and business travelers must pay a $160 reciprocity fee by credit card online at the Provincia Pagos website . Once paid, you must print out the receipt and present it to the Argentine immigration officer at the time of entry.The fee is valid for ten years from the date of payment and multiple entries. Until June 30, 2013, passengers on cruise lines entering the country are exempt from paying the fee. The fee applies only to bearers of tourist passports. Travelers bearing diplomatic or official passports are required to get visas prior to arrival in Argentina but are not charged the reciprocity fee, nor are travelers transiting and not entering Argentina.



over on the TGR 2013 SA thread. A bit of a change from when I was there and it was handled directly on entry. A moment's googling will reveal the official page. I had been unaware of this change to the Argentine reciprocity fee stuff. Worth knowing the details.

post #6 of 6
Kardinal, as an argetinean, I would say that spindrift gave you a very good summary of Catedral. Not much to add.
As he said, bring a lot of cash and do not use the credit card. The official fx rate is something like AR$ 5,3 per 1 U$. That is what will be charge in your credit card or the exchange rate if you go to a bank. If you exchange your U$ in the black market, you will receive something like AR$ 8 per dollar. You have to know that it is ilegal, but nobody cares much down here (very argentine). For sure, the concierge at the Llao Llao will do it for you or know who will do it for you.

Do not except something similar to any big US resorts. Lifts are old, the lower part of the mountain may have no snow at all, etc. But you will have a lot of fun.

Up in the mountain, have lunch at one place call El Barrilete. It is at the base of Punta Nevada lift. Very cool place where you will enjoy a very good "lomito" (sirloin) sandwich or an excellet pizza (obviously, you must pay cash, as for sure your payment will never be registered to the local IRS by the restaurant). Other place is Refugio Lync, in the upper part of Punta Nevada. Very nice view, european style.

Another nice place (to go at night) is to a restaurant up in Cerro Lopez. They give you a snowmobile and take you up to the restaurant where you will enjoy a fondue. The place is ina country club called Arelauquen.

If you staying in Buenos Aires a couple of days, let me know and I'll give you some tips..
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