- Ski Area
- Ski Lifts & Pass
- Facilities & Services
- Restaurants & Nightlife
La Hoya (Argentina) is a ski resort in Chubut Province, Patagonia, southern Argentina.
Together with the Los Alerces National Park, La Hoya gives shape to a landscape of forests, lakes and cascades of matchless beauty. Very close to the city of Esquel, and 1,350 meters over sea level, stands this winter resort. Its privileged geographic location lets visitors enjoy the snow since early June. Its white summits, which reach 2,050 meters, unfold 60 hectares of skiable land, with large runs for all levels.
Its powder snow is a real added value: fresh all year round due to the orientation of the mount with respect to the sun. Alpine and Nordic skiing and snowboarding find an excellent framework of practice for beginners, advanced, expert skiers and competition participants. It also offers a special area for randoneé skiing, a circuit for snowmobiles and spectacular off-piste areas with deep snow.
Through its 10 lifts, which transport up to 4,400 skiers per hour, visitors can access its 24 runs. For winters with poor snowfalls, La Hoya is provided with a modern system of artificial snow production, which maintains the quality of the runs, providing skiers with better safety.
Visited mostly by families, the infrastructure of La Hoya is very good. Therefore, tourists may enjoy the snow without risks.
Runs and Lifts in La Hoya
In order to take maximum advantage of the 22 kilometers of skiable surface, with dry powder snow quality, the 24 perfectly marked runs maintained with snow groomer equipments are interconnected by mountain passes and tours. Such interconnection converges in one only base, turning La Hoya into one of the safest and most suitable resorts for the family.
The longest skiable track is 5.1 kilometers long and the maximum vertical drop reaches 750 meters.
Areas for the practice of off-piste skiing stand out in La Hoya. They have been recently found out by lovers of snowboarding as one of the best sites in South America for the development of this discipline. If snow is not enough, due to scarce snowfalls, the snow guns guarantee the necessary amount of artificial snow for the practice of winter sports.
The winter resort has 10 fast and comfortable lifts, well-distributed so as to make the most of the mountain.
La Hoya Snow
La Hoya is well recognised for its snow. The basin catches an average of 8.9 metres of dry Andean powder per season. The slopes are south facing so the quality of the snow is well retained, and the orientation of the basin contributes to a long ski season from June through to early October.
Esquel is a simple Patagonian town and is very different to the cutesy resort towns further north in the Lakes District. This old mining town is somewhat unattractive in parts. Even the brand new buildings seem to look old, and the locals drive clapped out Fiat and Renault cars that come from the 70s. However this lack of sophistication is part of the appeal of the place. In Esquel you feel like you’ve found the real Argentina, not a town that’s been embellished and prettied up for the tourists.
Esquel has lots of restaurants where you can get your South American fix of meat and a red wine or six. For a relatively small town the nightlife in Esquel can be impressive, and after a late night of partying, don’t worry about being woken up at the crack of dawn because the sun rise in winter is delightfully late too!
La Hoya Ski Resort Facilities
Cerro La Hoya has gastronomy on offer. For those of you that don’t speak Latin American English, this basically means they have food to eat! In addition to restaurants, other facilities include ski and snowboard rental, ski and snowboard school, child care, and a shop.
Transportation - Get In
Flying to Esquel
Argentina Esquel has a small airport. Aerolineas Argentinas flights originate from the Jorge Newbery Airport (Buenos Aires domestic airport), so international travellers will need to transfer between the international and domestic airports.
The Esquel airport terminal is rather small and quaint. With lots of wood panelling, it looks like an old ski lodge! The airport is 18km (11 miles) east of town. Esquel airport has Avis and Hertz car rental counters, and they can include snow chains with the car hire if you wish.
There are also remises (unmetered taxis) available at the airport to get into town. The cost for a remise from the airport to Esquel is AR$70 (2011 rate), or AR$140 if you’re heading up to La Hoya.
Flying to Bariloche Argentina
The other option is to fly from the Jorge Newbery Airport to Bariloche; a 2 hour flight. Use one of our flight search engines to find the best rates for flights to Bariloche.
From the Bariloche airport you can rent a car to drive south. There are also buses from the Bariloche bus terminal to Esquel.
Getting Between Esquel and La Hoya
The drive up to La Hoya only takes about 20 minutes, and whilst the road is unpaved, it’s a reasonably easy drive relative to some of the crazy switch-backing Chile ski resort roads. The road is very wide initially. It’s a little windy further up and there are some safety rails. The only major hazard is the local drivers who don’t mind overtaking on blind corners!
The car park is where the fun begins. If you rock up in the morning you’ll get a car park that’s really close to the lift ticket office. The car park gets packed in the afternoon when half of Esquel turns up during siesta time. There are no parking attendants, so everyone just goes for it and packs their cars in like sardines. At the end of the day you might return to your car to find that you’re blocked in – you’d better head back up for more après drinks!
If you don’t have a rental car, there are lots of inexpensive shuttles that head between Esquel accommodations and La Hoya (about AR$25). Your accommodation will be able to organise this for you. Alternatively catch a taxi or remise up to La Hoya.
La Hoya ski terrain consists of one large conical basin. The upper two-thirds of the ski resort are treeless. This area has some groomed trails and an abundance of off-piste opportunities that are littered with interesting rock features. All runs converge into a mid-mountain hub that has various services and facilities, and a beginners’ area. The bottom third of the resort is essentially two long blue trails with a few trees either side, but don’t get excited, this isn’t really tree skiing territory!
The ski resort is generally uncrowded, especially in the morning (which is awesome on a powder day!). You can drive up to La Hoya at 10am and get a car park right near the lift ticket office, even on the weekends. Late in the morning a few locals start to turn up, and the prime time for skiing and snowboarding seems to be about 3pm. La Hoya may get busy in the beginners’ area, but there seems to be very few experienced riders, so the off-piste areas are quiet and freshies can last for days.
La Hoya Snow Conditions
Thanks to pretty cold temps, the snow generally stays pretty fluffy unless it sits in the direct sun. This is minimised due to the orientation of the slopes, and the left side of the resort (lookers’ left) has better snow cover than the right hand side.
The top elevation of the ski area is at 1,850 metres (similar to Cerro Bayo and Chapelco, even though they are further north), which contributes to the snow quality. Also the landscape surrounding Esquel is very arid, so it’s not surprising that La Hoya snow is rather dry.
As is somewhat typical of Argentina, the grooming can be very shoddy with fat seams and the occasional chunk of complete messiness.
For the Beginner
The novices’ area at La Hoya is conveniently located next to the main facilities and services, one-third of the way up the mountain, so beginners have to download the quad chair.
The small dedicated novice area has the advantage of allowing beginners to learn without the distraction of intermediate and expert riders whizzing past, however beginners have to contend with each other. On the weekends in the afternoon the area can be crammed, so in the least it makes for a great spectator sport!
Confident beginners should be OK to experiment on the blue runs as these are not particularly steep.
For the Family & KidsMost families with young kids hang around the beginners’ area and the nearby mid-mountain restaurant. All the ski runs converge into this area, so it’s easy to keep track of the family.
La Hoya Intermediate Ski and Snowboard Terrain
Intermediate skiers and boarders have 70% of the piste terrain (30% blue and 40% red). Whilst this sounds like a lot of terrain, in reality it doesn’t provide much variety for intermediates because the ski resort is small and most of the runs are very short. The runs on the lower third of the mountain are delightfully long, with the only shortcomings being the slapdash grooming and the potential for it to be icy.
Terrain ParkCerro La Hoya has a small terrain park serviced by a handle tow that has a few rails and a few jumps.
La Hoya Advanced Skiing
La Hoya has profuse off-piste opportunities, particularly around the sides of the basin. Some of the best runs with great rock features can be found off the Traversia del Filo, a groomed cat track that runs around the top of the lookers’ left of the cirque for a couple of hundred metres. Beyond that you can continue to traverse for a long way to find fresh powder. The steep runs are a little short, but they are very sweet! Of course you can bootpack up in some places to get a little more vertical.
La Hoya has a significantly higher proportion of skiers than snowboarders, and at least for advanced riders one of the possible reasons for this is related to the amount of traversing required to get to the goods.
You’ll also be unique if you wear a helmet. People might stare at you if you don a helmet, but with all those rocks you want your noggin protected!
Expert Ski and Snowboard Terrain
The off-piste terrain has various rocks for hucking off and the ridge lines develop large cornices that also provide some air time.
Follow the skiers’ right traverse around in line with the beginners’ area and a bit more traversing around a few rocks will lead to much steeper lines. If you go for a really long traverse, there are 60 degree slopes near the base area that you can streak down.
Ski lifts & pass
La Hoya Lifts
Of the 10 lifts, two are detachable but surprisingly they are still pretty slow. A quad chair runs up from the base to the mid-mountain hub, and then a double detachable chair is the primary lift from this area. The uplifting capacity from mid-mountain is not adequate, and lift queues can develop at peak times.
Another double chair runs parallel to the quad chair (and is generally not in use) and another slow double services the upper part of the resort. The rest of the lifts are surface lifts, but they provide a pretty comfortable ride.
The lifts are open from 9am to 5pm, yet at 9am the ski resort is likely to be deserted. The area is in some weird misplaced time zone, so in August the sun doesn’t rise until about 9am and it doesn’t get dark until 8pm plus.
Facilities & Services
La Hoya Ski Resort Services and Facilities
At La Hoya ski resort the facilities are reasonably simple. Some of the buildings are located at the base area just above the car park, whilst many of the amenities are also centred round another hub at the top of the quad chair lift.
La Hoya Ski Rental
A big Frontera Sur equipment rental shop sits at the base area. They hire out good quality skis and snowboards at inexpensive rates, but they don’t have performance equipment or fat skis. There is also an equipment repair workshop and ski lockers.
The town of Esquel also has at least six shops that offer very inexpensive ski and snowboard rentals:
- Class Rental Ski - 9 de Julio 959
- Rossi Ski Rental – Sarmiento y Rivadavia
- La Bolsa del Ski – Rivadavia y 25 de Mayo
- Sol del Sur – Sarmiento y 9 de Julio
- Xtreme Ski Rental – Av. Alvear 1069
- Tierra Av Fontana 482
Eating On Mountain at La Hoya
The main restaurant, La Piedra, is located at the mid-mountain hub (top of the quad chair lift near the beginners’ area). This cafeteria style restaurant has self-service food at very cheap prices.
A more boutique dining experience can be had up at El Refugio at an elevation of 1,850 metres. Outside they have sun lounges (not that the direct sun shines on La Hoya for many hours!) as well as tables, seats, and a great bar for lunch time or après drinks. Indoors is cosy and eclectic, and the homemade food is simple but delicious.
Facilities for Children
La Hoya has an on-mountain child care centre for infants, although English is not widely spoken. There are also ski lessons for kids aged 3 to 5. These are only conducted in Spanish.
La Hoya Ski School
La Hoya has two ski schools, and if you want a lesson with an English speaking instructor, your only chance is with a private format. A 2 hour private lesson for one person costs AR$360.
Restaurants & Nightlife
In the intermediate area of the resort, there is a coffee-shop and a large restaurant offering fast food with agile and automatized assistance.
To take a rest and behold the mountain, there is nothing better than spending noon at La Piedra, 1,500 meters over sea level, or the afternoons with hot chocolate at the Parador del Sol, 1,800 meters high.
La Hoya Shop
The Frontera Sur ski and snowboard shop at the base of the ski resort has a small retail section. Here you can pick up ski and snowboard accessories such as gloves, beanies, goggles, socks and other sundries like sunscreen.
The ski school further up the mountain also sells a few basic ski and snowboard accessories.
Esquel Ski and Snowboard Shops
All the shops and businesses in Esquel close for siesta from about 1:30-4:30pm. My theory is that the workers are not sleeping but are up at La Hoya skiing or snowboarding!
Esquel has various ski and snowboard shops, but they tend to focus on equipment rentals rather than retail. Along a similar vein, Esquel has several outdoor shops (Salomon being an example), where it’s possible to buy a new jacket or other apparel such as inner wear. Your options will be very limited if you’re after hardwear such as skis, a snowboard, poles, or backcountry equipment.
Frontera Sur ski shop is located on the corner of Av. Alvear and Sarmiento, opposite Killarney’s Irish Resto Pub. This ski shop sells some very basic gear and a small amount of outerwear.
Other Esquel Shopping
Tourism is somewhat understated in Esquel, so there aren’t many shops in Esquel that will get tourists particularly excited. There are various shops selling basic Esquel souvenirs and regional handicrafts, and Esquel has some daggy clothing boutiques, but that’s about it.
Chocoholics won’t be disappointed though! Esquel has various chocolaterias where you can sample and purchase a whole range of yummy chocolates.