Cerro Catedral Lifts & Terrain


Cerro Catedral 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 Catedral Trail Map
  • Vertical (m)
    1,030 – 2,100 (1,070)
  • Average Snow Fall
    6 metres (summit)
  • Lifts (28)
    1 Gondola
    1 Six-pack
    3 Quads
  • Ski Hours
    9:00am to 5:00pm
    Mid June to mid October
  • Terrain Summary
    Area - 1,200 ha
    Longest run – 9 km
    Beginner - 15%
    Intermediate - 60%
    Advanced - 20%
    Expert - 5%

Catedral Alta Patagonia Ski and Snowboard Terrain

Catedral Alta Patagonia is sometimes called the Whistler of South America, in part because of the size of the ski resort and the significant vertical. Whilst it’s only about a third of the size and only 70% of the vertical of Whistler Blackcomb, Catedral Alta Patagonia is still a giant by South American standards.

The Catedral Alta Patagonia ski terrain can be roughly broken into three vertical parts. The base area is narrow with a handful of novice and intermediate runs that are largely serviced by surface lifts and slow double chairs. The base area is sometimes closed due to a lack of snow. The mid zone of the ski resort is also below the tree line and is characterized by an abundance of poorly designed tracks that wind down the mountain. The déjà vu cat tracks can make orientation a little challenging initially, and they may provide an annoyance (and potential danger!) to off-piste riders heading through the trees. The upper part of the mountain is above the timberline and fans out into a very wide area providing terrain for intermediate, advanced and expert riders.

Cerro Catedral can also be divided into two sides that were separately owned prior to 2004. If you want to ride both sides, be aware that it’s easy to move from lookers’ left to right but not so easy to move the other way without returning to the base.

It's also worth noting that snowboarders need to use a leash, which feels so 2000s.

Catedral Alta Patagonia Lifts

Catedral Alta Patagonia has 28 ski lifts. Whilst the lift infrastructure is a far cry from lifts at high profile North American ski resorts, the lifts at Cerro Catedral are fantastic relative to other South American resorts where an abundance of surface lifts are the norm.

The Amancay Gondola is the main lift from the base up to the lookers’ left side of the mountain, whilst the super fast Sextuple lift (six-pack) with the bubble is the primary lift from the base up to the right side of the mountain. Both of these lifts as well as other double chairs can be downloaded. There are a few quads chairs; otherwise the chair lifts consist of slow double and triple chairs. Catedral also has some surface lifts, but unless you’re a novice you’ll be able to avoid these. Catedral Alta Patagonia also has a cable car, although this is only for pedestrians.

Despite lift development over the years, lift queues are still a problem. When lifts go on wind-hold, the lift lines can be horrendous, especially on the slow double chairs. A pushing-in culture exists and as is typical of Argentina, there is minimal organisation to maximise lift capacity. There are no singles lanes, and quad chairs commonly only have one or two people sitting on them. When you’re standing in a lift queue this can be a little infuriating, but you just have to learn to get into the Argentine culture of “all in good time”. Otherwise just pay the extra for a fast pass ticket.

If you’re from California or some of the other western US ski resorts where it’s not cool to put the safety bar down, note that at Catedral it’s mandatory to lower the safety bar.

Catedral Lift Tickets

Catedral Alta Patagonia lift tickets are amongst the most expensive in the country. In addition to this, kids 12 and above are considered adults. The locals bitch and moan about lift pass prices, and possibly don’t appreciate that if they were any cheaper, the lift queues would be way worse. To international visitors the rates seem reasonable considering the size and infrastructure of the resort, and depending on the currency exchange, the lift tickets are significantly cheaper than at Whistler, Vail or Park City.

Buying a lift ticket on-mountain can be a process. There are often queues and once you get up to the ticket window you can see Argentine efficiency at its best….not! And as in other spots in Argentina, if you want to use your credit card you may need to provide your passport number or they may even want to see your passport.

Cerro Catedral Snow Conditions

As to be expected, the Catedral snow quality and quantity varies significantly across the 1,070 metres of vertical. The average annual snowfall at the top is 6 metres and the quality can be really good; a little better than nearby Cerro Bayo and Chapelco where the top elevation is slightly lower.

Further down in the trees the powder is commonly heavy, and after a little while it can turn to complete snot, slop or ice.

Don’t take your brand new skis or snowboard to Catedral because the snow near the base is frequently scant or absent. The average annual snowfall is only 1.5 metres. The snow that doesn’t get washed away by the frequent rain in the village gets baked by the sun and quickly melts.

Catedral Alta Patagonia claims to have a comprehensive snowmaking system, but they’re clearly dreaming. The resort has some guns, yet they don’t seem to use them well.

Avalanche Safety

Ski patrol techniques are slowly improving and a little bit of blasting is undertaken. Nevertheless it’s wise to treat the off-piste areas like the backcountry and be kitted out with appropriate equipment and know-how. There are some locals who are not well educated regarding snow safety and don’t be surprised if you have a class of ski school wallies all on the slope at the same time and drop in on you from above.

Catedral Skiing for Beginners

The bulk of the beginner terrain is at the base area where there are magic carpets, so if the snow cover is scant, poor beginners may be dodging around patches of dirt.

Other beginners can also upload and download the gondola and head up to La Roca where there are a couple of small novice areas. There is also a small beginner area up the top of the Princesa double chair.

Intermediate Skiing and Boarding

Catedral is fabulous for intermediates due to the vast number of blue runs (for low end intermediates) and red runs (for strong intermediates).

Whilst the terrain for intermediates is great (except for all those silly cat tracks!), there are a couple of downsides for intermediates. Firstly the quality of the grooming can be very shoddy with big seams in the corduroy, so best not to be a speedy Gonzales. Also the slopes are often crowded and the other riders seem to be very unpredictable. Sometimes great agility is required to get down the runs in one piece!

The piste have coloured poles to indicate the level of difficulty and there’s a little bit of signage about the place, but low end intermediates should keep a very keen eye on a trail map.

Terrain Park

The terrain park is reasonably good by South American standards and offers hits for beginner, intermediate and advanced riders. Features include rails, boxes and jumps, and sometimes a ski/boardercross course is set up. The terrain park is in the upper reaches of the resort where snow cover is not an issue, but sometimes the grooming and shaping is a bit off. Cerro Catedral hosts frequent events so there’s plenty of opportunity to watch the pros at work.

Catedral Skiing & Riding - Advanced

Despite the black runs being labelled as being for “experts”, these are just the equivalent of single diamond black runs suitable for advanced riders. There are only a handful of black on-piste runs, with the main fun being off-piste. The in-bounds tree skiing is lots of fun if the snow is good, but just be careful of the drops onto the cat tracks. In the alpine areas the world’s your oyster across the various big bowls.

Expert Ski and Snowboard Terrain

The in-bounds Nubes area has some great challenging terrain and offers to-die-for views. This rocky area has a range of chutes of varying degrees of difficulty. Unfortunately freshies don’t last long now that this area is no longer hike-to-terrain (unless of course the Nubes chair is closed). A hike up to the Punta Princesa area also offers gnarly terrain, but be mindful of the avalanche risk.

Cerro Catedral Sidecountry

If you head outside the resort boundary to the skiers’ left there are lots of great lines through the hairy Lenga trees. Creek crossing and finding the right exit point might be tricky without some frustrating experimentation or a guide. The wrong exit points may result in hours spent hacking through the cane!

The Laguna area is a fave. It used to having a functioning poma lift but now it’s hike-to-terrain. A short 15 minute hike leads to the lower part of Laguna. This area has a cirque that offers an abundance of wide lines, cliffs and chutes. One gnarly sphincter-puckering chute is so exciting it will give you an erection (and I’m a chick)! A 45 minute hike up the ridge to the top leads to sweet long lines. Exit out through the trees near the bottom of Del Bosque or bamboo bashing may ensue.


Backcountry ski zones include the backside from the top of the Nubes lift. The access lines can be a bit gnarly.

Beyond Lagunas is some fantastic backcountry terrain. Avid ski tourers and splitboarders should also consider a night or two at Refugio Frey. Some of the guided tours head into the Catedral backcountry.