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Los Penitentes

Local ski enthusiast Emilio Lopez Frugoni bought 51 hectares (126 ac), in 1978, with the intention of building a ski resort close to his hometown of Mendoza. A year later, his Los Penitentes Ski Resort opened to the public. Today, the resort covers more than 300 hectares (741 ac) and includes 25 ski runs, which vary in difficulty from beginner to expert. Several hotels, restaurants, and ski rental businesses operate on a seasonal basis, but the small town remains without a formal population.

Despite its altitude, at 2,580 meters (8,464 ft), an average winter temperature of 1°C (34°F) doesn’t allow for deep snowpack, but the resort normally operates from mid-June to August. Occasional storms, arriving from the Pacific, are known to drop several meters of fresh snow on the resort. The resulting powder coats steep out-of-bounds terrain and lasts for several days because most expert skiers favor nearby Portillo, Chile. Nevertheless, the resort is best suited for beginners and intermediate skiers looking for new challenges.

Ski and snowboard lessons are available in English, Spanish, and Portuguese. The resort’s largest market, aside from the Mendoza weekend crowd, is Brazilian. For many, it’s the first time playing in the snow and an afternoon watching them frolic in ill-fitting rental snowsuits will bring a smile to any snow-savvy visitor. Aside from skiing and snowboarding, the resort also offers a sliding area, snowmobile rentals, cross-country ski trails and snowshoe excursions.

In the summer, a portion of the resort remains open. A chairlift carries sightseeing tourists well above the valley floor for panoramic views, while hikers can elect to climb to the mountain’s broad summit or venture into the surrounding Andes.

A variety of hotels are open throughout the winter, but only Hostel Campo Base and Complejo Ayelen operate year-round. The former is a basic hostel affiliated with Mendoza’s Campo Base tourism network, while the later is a multi-building, three-star hotel complex. The only year-round food service is found at the El Parador restaurant in the Hotel Ayelen building. In the winter, a number of slope-side restaurants open, but beware of high prices.

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Other places nearby Los Penitentes: Potrerillos, Cacheuta, Uspallata, Las Cuevas and Puente Del Inca.







01 Jul 2010

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