Cerro Castor is said to be the best skiing in Argentina, and it’s just 30 minutes’ drive on a paved road from Ushuaia, the undisputed capital of Tierra del Fuego, the large island at the tip of the South American continent, that is divided between Chile and Argentina. The ski slopes are south-facing, which is the coolest exposure in the southern hemisphere. It is at 54 degrees south latitude, which puts it at the same distance from the equator as Moscow.
There are 28 runs, with some of these being connector runs between longer runs. The cerro (hill) comprises almost 1500 acres (600 hectares) and has a drop of 2600 vertical feet. The runs are labeled in ascending order as green, blue, red, and black, which may be confusing to those used to the system used in the United States. There are runs for all levels, and the ski area has recently set up a 300 foot-long bunny slope, and there are three “magic carpets” (conveyor lifts) for beginners. There are numerous chair and other lifts, and off-piste skiing as well.
Since the ski area is so far south, it has a longer ski season than many others, which starts in about June, and usually does not end until the end of September. The season can extend into the first two weeks of October, but like at all ski resorts, this is weather-dependent. Weather changes quickly here, so be prepared.
Cerro Castor is a relatively new ski resort, and was constructed in 1999. There are five restaurants, including the gourmet Morada del Águila which serves Patagonian lamb, cooked on a spit. This restaurant is open year-round (though the ski slopes are not). There are also four picnic areas, and several areas where wifi is available. Smoking is not allowed at any of the indoor installations.
The ski resort has classes for adults and children, offers dogsledding, snowshoeing, snowmobiling and other winter activities, and is set up for disabled and blind skiers to be able to ski. Cerro Castor will be the official site of the 2015 Interski competition, and will be continuing to improve its infrastructure to receive the best skiers in the world.
To ski Cerro Castor, take a transfer from Ushuaia. This is easier than driving your own vehicle, and lets you relax on the way in and out of the ski center. Or stay the night in one of the fifteen, two-storied log cabins onsite that sleep 2-7 adults.
- Eileen Smith