MOUNTAIN & TERRAIN
It may be summer back in North America, but down in Argentina it is full-on winter. However, it is not just the fact that there is snow on the ground that makes skiing and riding in Argentina awesome. The terrain that the Andes provide is unreal and the freeride playground that is SASS Argentina at Catedral was chosen specifically for its diversity of terrain options and consistency of snow. Granite spires rise up from the peaks creating couloirs that deposit you into open alpine bowls. 1,500 vertical feet later the perfectly spaced trees provide steep untouched turns through what seems to be an enchanted forrest before popping you out at the base.
The great people at SASS opened my eyes to true snowboarding. My experience there paved the way for me to become better than I ever thought I could. My time at SASS changed my whole perspective on snowboarding. I am now addicted to backcountry and the push-your-limits features it has to offer.
— Pete Purcell, 2012 adult session
CATEDRAL ALTA PATAGONIA
Catedral is the largest resort in South America – about the size of Mammoth Mountain, California. The coastal snowpack sets up very quickly and hangs onto all kinds of faces and rock outcroppings, making for perfect cliff take-offs and soft landings. With a 3,500 foot vertical rise, the snow gets deeper and lighter as you get higher on the mountain. The 33-chairlifts including a gondola and a high-speed six-pack, a very modern lift system for South America. However, with grooming mostly limited to a bunch of cat tracks circling the mountain, the off-piste experience is closer to that of Silverton Mountain – lots and lots and lots of untracked woods, chutes, and bowls that are barely skied outside of our groups. The skiing we do is raw and is closer to lift-accessed backcountry than the traditional North American resort experience.
- 1,500 acres in-bounds
- 3,000+ acres including sidecountry terrain
- 33 chairlifts
- 3 peaks
- 3,500 foot vertical drop
- Summit tops out at 7,800 feet
WHAT’S THE DAY-TO-DAY RIDING LIKE?
Every day at SASS Argentina presents a new opportunity: you may start the day lapping untracked pow in the Palmero trees, hit the Nubes chair as soon as it opens for big chutes and wide-open bowl skiing, and then finish off the day with a hike or two up to the the top of Laguna, an enormous side-country area consisting of one huge bowl and endless possibilities. A few days after a storm, you may find yourself in a group hiking out across Laguna to the Tage chutes or the infamous “Staff Party” run, a single-run mission taking you down 3,000 feet of vert and every kind of terrain imaginable, from wide-open cirque shredding to tight chutes to open trees and bamboo forests. More ambitious clients may find themselves dropping off the back of the resort to ride long couloirs or hiking out to Refugio Frey, a fully-staffed backcountry hut that is the staging point for multi-day touring missions. If you’re more inclined to take advantage of the deep pow in order to learn some new tricks into soft landings, you might head out to Condor to build a step-up or check out any of the jump spots we set up every summer thanks to the hard work of clients and coaches and Argentina’s liberal patrol policy that makes it possible for our crew to build jumps wherever we like.
check out our interactive terrain map by clicking the image below…
No matter what the day brings, clients will be in small groups with a guide or coach and will be riding with those of comparable ability and desire. Depending on weather and what different groups want to do, you could find yourself with a personal coach for the day as you go out to explore some cliffs you’ve been eyeing or a couloir you’ve been talking to one of the guides about – all at no extra charge! Clients also are given a backcountry awareness seminar, practice beacon drills and appropriate backcountry travel, and always carry beacon, shovel, and probe to ensure minimum risk. Catedral runs its lifts from 9 am to 5 pm, ensuring a solid eight-hour day; talk about a difference from the “up by 10:00, down by 2:00” glacier scene – at SASS Argentina you get more time on snow than any other summer shred program.
Skiing and snowboarding are inherently dangerous activities. Skiing and snowboarding out of the boundaries of a ski resort adds to these risks. It is required that all participants ski or ride with a beacon on their person and a pack containing a shovel and probe. Every participant in the SASS Argentina program will be given an avalanche safety presentation after arrival and before heading out on the mountain. On the first day each group will take part in avalanche scenarios to practice with your beacon and plan for the worst.
SASS Argentina lead guide Skylar Holgate is in charge of snow safety and uses his vast experience in Colorado, Alaska and 11 years in Argentina to determine avalanche risks for the groups. Our professional staff of guides and coaches are in charge of each group and will help you to understand what it takes to enter into the backcountry and why certain precautions must always be taken.
We pride ourselves in our focus on avalanche education and offer constant opportunities to ask questions to further your understanding of the backcountry. Avalanche courses are available as well (click HERE for more information).
— Dustin Eldridge, 2 years and counting…
Yes, the Nubes Terrain Park runs along the Triple Park chairlift, and is usually setup with a solid triple jump line, mini-jib park and a bunch of rails and boxes. In 2012 Catedral resort was purchased by a new ownership group and immediately infused additional funding into the terrain park. However, we are rarely in the park unless it hasn’t snowed in a few days – expect most of your jumping to occur off of cliffs or off of hand-built booters into knee-deep snow, which is a way better and less risky venue for learning new tricks.
WHEN IS THE BEST SKIING & RIDING?
The South American winter is fairly short compared to our winter – lifts usually open at Catedral sometime in early or mid-June and close in mid October. The best skiing is usually from late July through early September. SASS operates right during that time frame, when the snowpack is deep and solid and frequent storms blow through. South American skiing is notorious for the “Santa Rosa” storm that seems to come every year sometime in late August – two years ago, the Santa Rosa brought about 10 feet to Catedral in the span of five days, after which point the resort had to dig several lifts out and we were riding neck-deep powder! Plan your trip accordingly but keep in mind that thanks to the fairly constant winds that sweep the Andes, new snow almost constantly blows in and refills skied-out chutes and runs, ensuring fresh tracks the next morning.