Comments Off

Cerro Cathedral — Mountain layout

Above the Las Terrazas mall the 6 person, high speed Sextuple Express, blasts off and comes back to earth 2,400 vertical feet higher. On cold, snowy, windy days the Sextuple’s giant plastic shield makes the otherwise unpleasant ride very comfortable.

The ride ends in the center of the mountain with 4 other lifts starting or ending in the same area. This area can become very congested and may want to be avoided during the busy times. To continue to the top, hop on the unique Lynch lift. Every other chair is a double with a pull down plastic shield or a regular quad chair. The reason behind this conception was to make a comfortable and convenient ride to the top of the resort for the non-skier/boarder population that comes to Bariloche.  Catedral’s well thought out plan to allow everyone, regardless of riding skills, the chance to admire the spectacular views of the Patagonia Mountains of Chile and Argentina from the top of the resort, has been a great success and is a role model for the other resorts whom seem to neglect the non-riders from the best views of the mountains.

Like the other resorts in the Bariloche area, Catedral’s upper half of the mountain is all above tree line. Giant bowls are separated by the random rock bands and cat tracks that traverse side to side all the way down the mountain. On snowy days or when the visibility is poor, watch out for the unsuspecting cat track crossing the main slopes. Not all the cat tracks are marked and when the vertigo sets in, it is almost impossible to detect one of the many trails crossing the mountain.

From the Punta Nevada peak, Del Fin trail glides down the upper ridge of the resort over to the iconic Piedra del Condor (rock of the Condor). Often, the giant condors sore above this rocky point as they ride the thermals from the valley below. Some of the bird’s wing span is as long as a car and watching these enormous creatures in flight is memorizing as they coast over head.

Continuing rider’s left down the ridge leads to two sub ridges. The advanced 2 do Lomo and La Palmera drop all the way to the bottom and are usually a good powder stash, since 3 lifts are needed to lap it.

New at Cathedral Bariloche for 2006, the Nubes (clouds) quad chair reaches the highest point of the mountain. On a clear day thousands of photos are taken of the lakes, volcanoes, and snow capped peaks that lie in the national park. The Nubes run goes rider’s left off of the quad and leads to some of the most challenging terrain on the mountain. This slope roles over and goes out of sight, so it is wise to pick and choose lines through the technical, rocky area from the ride up on the lift. The rider’s right off of Nubes consist of a few smoothly groomed runs and a few off piste shots with scattered rocks.  About half way down the groomed run, Conexion, the Pricesa 3 triple lift climbs a ridge over to another different area that could be a separate resort all on its own.

The landscape around Barilocheand the Punta Princesa area is where Caterdral (cathedral) found its name sake.  Jagged rock pinnacles line the ridges all around and embody the feeling of a gothic cathedral. Over the last 3 years the resort has been expanding this area with a dozen new lifts and has plans for more.

From the base of the resort, the Amancay gondola and the Diente de Caballo triple shuttles crowds up to a perfect beginner area lying in the scenic cathedral.  Once again the resort wanted to give the novice riders a chance to experience the astounding views obtained from the upper part of the resort.  The 2000 double chair ascends the gentle pitch up to 2 beginner surface lifts, which are many used by the ski schools. First time and beginner riders take the gondola and double chair up, take the lesson, practice, and then download the double chair and gondola at the end of the day. This is a truly unique option for beginner riders and is also a great learning area in the spring time when the base of the resort is low on snow.

Advanced riders also cherish the cathedral area with it’s out of bounds and off piste areas. Off of the 2000 double chair a boot pack climbs up to the rider’s right over a ridge to the unmatched La Laguna area. Steep chutes, cliffs, and more untouched bowls of powder are the rewards for the 20 minute hike. However, this secret stash may come to an end if the resort proceeds with its plans to install another lift in this powder paradise.

During mid season when the storms are dumping and the wind is ripping the lower half of the mountain is the place to ride.  The dense forest protects riders from the strong winds and provides some visibility for the otherwise white out conditions.  Off of the Amancay gondola the intermediate ABC Sur trail traverses back and forth all the way down the mountain. This is one of the longest trails on the resort, but watch out for the other trails and crowds of people crossing it as it switch backs down the mountain. For a true test of strength and endurance ride the Pista 6 off of the gondola. This top to bottom, steep, mogul field resembles the famous Outer Limits of Killington. Over 2,000 vertical feet with an advanced pitch makes it a real challenge or a real nightmare.

At the base the Condor 1 and Esquiadores double lifts lead to the best beginner areas on the mountain. The Camino 1200 and Chapelquito wind down the far rider’s left of the resort for over a kilometer.

At the base of the gondola, the Plaza Amancay has 8 small surface lifts that are designed to help the hundreds of first timers achieve their first turns.  In the spring time when the snow is sparse at the bottom, the Princesa 1 and Condor 1 have small beginner surface lifts. Downloading is allowed to help the novices return to the bottom safely.