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Skiing La Hoya

Listed under Skiing in Cuyo, Argentina.

  • Photo of Skiing La Hoya
  • Photo of Skiing La Hoya
  • Photo of Skiing La Hoya
Photo of Skiing La Hoya
Photo by Photography: CASA Tours
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Located deep in the heart of the Patagonian Andes, La Hoya Ski Center is a gem especially for off piste enthusiasts. Situated above the town of Esquel, in the Chabut province of Southern Argentina, La Hoya reminds me of Colorado’s Arapahoe Basin.

It receives some of the driest Andean powder in all of South America and its upper lifts bring skiers and snowboarders to an enormous cirque where all types of terrain can be accessed via short traverses along the bowl’s ridgeline.

Couloirs with jagged teeth piercing through the snow are some of the most dramatic aesthetics of this ski area. Large open bowls with various cornice drops to enter provide plenty of hucking potential. And the off piste potential reachable within 45 minute walks are limitless.

The base of the ski area is simple; a small parking lot, the mate bar, a ticket booth and a four-seater taking riders past large couloirs and wind swept ridgelines. Mornings are chilly, as the base does not receive much sun due to its southern exposure and ridgelines, which block the sun. However as you climb up into La Hoya’s (The Hole) namesake bowl the morning sun lights up the surrounding terrain.

After taking the quad, you reach a mid station where there is the ski school, a beginners surface lift, an on hill mountain restaurant, a t-bar, and a 2 seater, which brings riders to a poma lift and another 2 seater and La Hoya’s prime terrain. The lift system at La Hoya is pretty impressive for such an off the beaten path South American ski resort. The top poma lift drops riders just below La Hoya’s distinct ridgeline and a 3-minute sidestep/ hike accesses this traverse and an enormous amount of riding potential. This first traverse allows riders to drop into several bowl like features as well as airing off a cornice with 5 feet to 25 feet options. Keep traversing around and one can access a distinct couloir with massive rock walls or several chutes with jagged pinnacles jutting out of the snow or snaking hallways with little pointers to get the juices flowing. Because of the exposure this particular face receives little sun and preserves powder excellently, not to mention it is not easily seen from the mountain so attracts little ski traffic.

From this main traverse, off piste enthusiasts can continue on to a series of summits which lead riders into more open bowls and steeper chutes. To reach these summits take the skis or boards off and hike 5-30 minutes for a variety of lines and adventure.

The patrol at La Hoya has a very liberal off-piste policy. They are very helpful with questions about conditions and routes. For some excellent adventure skiing/snowboarding, climb to the 3 furthest peak on the ridgeline, where riders can drop into massive bowls, billygoat around and get into some very aesthetic couloirs and wind up about 1.5 kilometers down the La Hoya access road, where hitchhiking is relatively easy. I was very impressed with the backcountry potential La Hoya offered and with a few more meters of base you could see opportunities galore. La Hoya maintains snow late into the South American winter and its snow quality is consistently some of the driest in all the Andes. La Hoya’s one downfall is it does receive a lot of strong winds and the resort can close down because of this. No worries though as the town of Esquel offers travelers many other sightseeing opportunities such as excursions into Los Alerces national park, taking a train ride on the narrow gauged Old Patagonian Express called the Trochita, visiting the Welsh influenced town of Trevelin, or checking out the impressive hydro-electric dam at the headwaters of the Futalafu River, one of South America’s biggest river rafting destinations.

Be sure to finish your day at the Mate Bar with some cold and delicious Aracaunia beers. These handcrafted microbrews will replenish the calories from a full day of riding. For dinner head to Esquel and Don Chiquino for excellent hand-made pastas and a magical Patagonian atmosphere, Patagonian Winds for tasty pizzas, calzones, and smoked picadas, or get your meat on at the parrilla La Espanola. Esquel is located 300 kilometers south of Bariloche along the incredibly scenic Ruta 40.

Written by  Dave Johnson.

Other expert and press reviews

“On the road to the end of the world”

By Chris Moss for The Observer First published Sunday September 14 2008 It was your classic Patagonian road. Dead straight to the horizon, bounded on one side by a view of turquoise lakes and shimmering mountains and on the other by the infinite steppe… Read more...

Written by press. See the full article in The Observer, 14 September 2008

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