Argentina's ski regions are known for their spectacular off piste skiing, with the Andes offering a vast amount of peaks and plenty of fantastic terrain. Continuing our series on southern hemisphere skiing, here is our resort guide for Las Leñas, Argentina...
The Las Leñas resort notes that its' ski area boasts over 17,500 hectares of riding terrain, though this includes the vast amount of off-piste terrain that is favored by many of the advanced level skiers visiting the region each season. The resort's on-piste ski area is significantly smaller than this figure, though it is still a sizable amount - with 29 runs served by a total of 14 ski lifts.
Located in Argentina's Mendoza province, in the east of the Andes Mountains, Las Leñas is not the most easily accessible of resorts. It does however still receive plenty of visitors each year, which is testament to the skiing and to the quality of the resort as a whole. The easiest way to get to the ski resort is to fly to Buenos Aires' International Airport (this usually requires an overnight stay in Buenos Aires), transfer to Buenos Aires' domestic airport, and from there fly to the Malargue Airport. Malarque airport is about 70km from Las Leñas, and transfers to the resort can be easily arranged from here.
With pistes above 2500 meters, skiing can usually be assured throughout the season. Las Leñas itself is above 1500m, which usually makes skiing back to the resort possible. Known for its deep powder, much of the skiing in the Valle de las Leñas is best suited to advanced level skiers. The main area used by experts is Marte, with steep couloirs that usually have a deep covering of snow.
The Marte chair is highly regarded by advanced level skiers, as it is a rare opportunity to experience conditions that are close to heli-skiing, but with a lift service. It is however not uncommon for severe weather conditions to close this lift for several days at a time. That said, there are plenty of other skiing options when this happens, with Las Leñas offering 15% beginner slopes, and 45% intermediate level terrain.
Las Leñas village sits at the base of the resort's lifts, providing plenty of ski in/out accommodation options. The village has a number of 4 and 5 star hotels, which typically offer Saturday to Saturday stays. In addition to these, Las Leñas also has numerous self contained apartments which may offer a little more flexibility on arrival departure days & number of nights stay. As is typical in South American resorts, the night life plays a much bigger part than the Après-ski time. Evening meals in South America are served much later than in Europe or North America, so visitors to Las Leñas should be prepared for a late night or two during their stay... Las Leñas' Après-ski is relatively low key, as the village is not as large as many European resorts, though the village itself does offer a good number of restaurants and bars, as well as a casino and a night club
Check out our other pages on skiing in the southern hemisphere: