After nearly a decade of sending skiers and snowboarders into the Patagonian backcountry, we at SASS Global Travel feel the time has come to drop some knowledge because we are basically defiling our underwear right now waiting for the moment when we get to shred again with the family and we want reprieve from the anticipation. Without further ado, we present to the world our list of the biggest, baddest and overall best spots to ski in South America. Can’t wait for the snow massacre this summer!

Check out our program in Argentina!

#1 Cerro Catedral

Above the clouds at Catedral. pc: Ben Girardi
Above the clouds at Catedral. pc: Ben Girardi

The snow. The story. The legend. It’s really no surprise after sending tours down to Cerro Catedral for the last nine years, SGT awards this world class resort the highly coveted ‘number one spot’ on our list of ‘Top 10 Best Places to Ski in South America.’ With immediate access to an incredible amount of insane backcountry sweet spots, even the most intrepid backcountry explorer will find enough terrain here to stay occupied for days into weeks into seasons. The extent to which you enjoy the potential of this epic South American ski resort just depends on how much time you have. Catedral has everything: gnarly big mountain faces, couloirs, cliff drops and even wicked tree lines with bottomless powder. In addition to the top quality terrain, snow and breathtaking views, Cerro Catedral also boasts Bariloche (think food, drink and partying with hot girls) just down the road.

  • Number of Lifts: 38
  • Proximity to Nearest Major City: 22 km to Bariloche
  • Vert: 1150m (3773)
  • Skiable Terrain: 2965 acres
  • Terrain Park: Yes (snow permitting)
  • Country: Argentina

#2 Valle Nevado de las Tres Valles


Valle Nevado offers the greatest amount of skiable terrain in South America. With unprecedented access to wicked backcountry lines, this renowned ski area shreds into second place on our list of the top 10 best places to ski in South America. As you can see at their highly functional website, and reputation for high level services, Valle Nevado certainly deserves its elevation high in the mountain air. The season starts in June and ends in October. Think of yourself, cutting out on all your friends stuck in fall while you tear the Patagonian mountains to shreds. We think Valle Nevado sometime in the fall (perhaps September?) would be a delight.

  • Vert: 906m (2971 feet)
  • Skiable Terrain: nearly 7,000 acres
  • Terrain Park: Yes
  • Number of Lifts: 13 in Valle Nevado, 20 in El Colorado, and 15 in La Parva
  • Country: Chile

#3 Las Leñas


In what can only be described as a ridiculous amount of skiable terrain, Las Leñas offers some of the most badass, grow-hair-on-your-nuts skiing in the southern Hemisphere. Check out the video posted if you don’t believe me. What do you like skiing or riding? If your answer is: skiing off Andean summits into couloirs, off drops and onto gnarly steep descents into oblivion, you should probably stop by Las Leñas at some point in your life journey. However, there is one thing to consider if you’re considering making the trip. To access the big mountain you must take The Marte lift, which is due to avalanche and snow pack, is not always be open. So look at reports before you go.

  • Number of Lifts: 10
  • Proximity to Nearest Major City: 203 km to San Rafael, 367 km to Mendoza
  • Vert: 1190m (3904 feet)
  • Skiable Terrain: 43,200 acres
  • Terrain Park: No
  • Country: Argentina

Check out our program in Argentina!

#4 Portillo

As the oldest ski resort in South America, Portillo definitely claims legendary status. Isolated in the Patagonia, visitors must commit to one week of an all inclusive lodge package deal if they wish to stay and ski this epic mountain. This has pros and cons but it means that development is limited to one lodge at the bottom and a multi cultural community environment that is always worth the experience. There could definitely be worse requirements if you ask us. Also, the limited access means more untouched powder and terrain for your selfish enjoyment. Awww yeah!

  • Number of Lifts: 13
  • Proximity to Nearest Major City: 142 km to Santiago
  • Vert: 768m (2486 feet)
  • Skiable Terrain: 14000 acres
  • Terrain Park: Yes
  • Country: Chile

#5 Nevados de Chillán

Tucked away in the southern Andes on the slopes of the Chillán volcano, at this ski area you will find plenty of amazing powder, trees and backcountry skiing. After a long day of skiing visitors can look forward to natural outdoor thermal pools to relax and renew tired muscles. Termas stands out from the rest for its fantastic backcountry terrain for advanced and intermediate skiers and snowboarders, but lift service at the top is via drag lifts.

  • Number of Lifts: 9
  • Proximity to Nearest Major City: Chillán is 82km away
  • Skiable terrain: 24700 acres
  • Vert: 870m
  • Terrain Park: Yes
  • Country: Chile

#6 Caviahue

So Caviahue has access to lots of powder – both in the trees on the hill as well as plenty off-piste backcountry access – but you want more? Good. Caviahue, in addition to excellent skiing and snowboarding, offers visitors mineral rich hot tubs, turquoise lakes and even a view of the majestic Copahue Volcano. As an added bonus, the ski area sits just a couple km from Chile if you feeling like exploring more of the surreal scenery of Patagonia. For those looking for a kick ass vacation, Caiahue really delivers the whole burrito!

  • Number of Lifts: 9
  • Proximity to Nearest Major City: Neuquen
  • Vert: 772m (2533 feet)
  • Country: Argentina

#7 Los Penitentes

This midsized resort offers some decent inbounds intermediate and advanced skiing but the real fun begin when you exit out into the untouched sidecountry. Missing the crowds drawn to more famous resorts such as nearby Las Lenas and Portillo, you will find some pretty extreme sh*t here. The avalanche danger is rated as extreme though so make sure you have been Avalanche certified in the backcountry and go in knowing what it takes to stay alive out there.

  • Number of Lifts: 8
  • Proximity to Nearest Major City: 180km to Mendoza
  • Vert: 614m (2015 feet)
  • Terrain Park: No
  • Country: Argentina
  • Skiable terrain: 300 acres

#8 Cerro Bayo

This South American ski resort is still under development which means each year this place gets a little bit better. The runs here range from beginner to expert – with plenty of off piste skiing for those badass enough to make the trek. We’re talking fresh tracks and plenty of powder for the adventurous. As an added kickbutt bonus, this ski area gets an annual average of 20 feet of snow! With all these features, we suggest if you’re coming through South America to backcountry ski or snowboard make a stop at Cerro Bayo to find this hidden gem.

  • Number of Lifts: 12
  • Proximity to Nearest Major City: 9 km to Villa de la Angostura
  • Vert: 660m (2,165 feet)
  • Skiable terrain: 1977 acres
  • Terrain Park: Yes
  • Country: Argentina  

#9 Cerro Chapelco

Most famous for its enchanted forests, Chapelco definitely reserves a spot on every powder junky’s bucket list. In addition to perfectly spaced tree runs, big mountain freestylers and backcountry skiers looking for that adrenaline fix will find enough terrain here to stay occupied for days into weeks. Whether you’re looking for gnarly cliff drops and high gradient back bowls or magical rides through open and lower angle tree runs, Chapelco has got something to offer each and everyone of you powder junkies out there. Just 20 minutes from the charming town of San Martin de los Andes, after a full day on the slopes, visitors can finish off the day with a healthy slab of steak and a large glass of fine Argentine wine.

  • Number of Lifts: 10
  • Proximity to Nearest Major City: 20 km from San Martin de los Andes
  • Vert: 730m (2395 feet)
  • Skiable terrain: 140 acres
  • Terrain Park: Yes
  • Country: Argentina

#10 Cerro Castor

Located in Argentina’s southern Patagonian region known as Tierra del Fuego, Cerro Castor claims notoriety as the southernmost ski area on the continent. Although lacking the extreme terrain found at other South American ski areas, the bountiful powder spread deep across the spacious slopes of Cerro Castor makes the effort to discover this “secret” at the “end of the world” worthwhile. Also (ir)relevant, Cerro Castor’s has two of the creepiest mascots we’ve seen yet. Whoever thought a human sized rat and a giant “tickle-me-here” Elmo make great mascots… We may never know.

  • Skiable Terrain: 600 acres
  • Vert: 772m (2533 feet)
  • Number of Lifts: 9
  • Nearest City: Ushuiaia is 30 minutes away
  • Terrain Park: Yes
  • Country: Argentina

 Check out our program in Argentina!