Resort Profile: Las Leñas

By adamrowden, 4 Dec '12 at 12:15

For many years, a dream crossed the valley: the possibility of creating a ski center. Before the construction of the complex, experts worldwide conducted studies, made calculations and designed projects. All of them reached the same conclusion: this was an excellent area to practice winter sports while its special micro climate, free of rain, was the ideal to enjoy outdoor activities during the summer and rest of the year.

On June 16, 1983, the center started operating with 400 beds in 3 hotels. Today, it boasts 3047 beds and the prestige of being one of the major hotel complexes of Latin America.

Off-Piste

Las Leñas is one of the best ski resorts in South America to go backcountry skiing and snowboarding:

Marte: The chairlift of every skier's dreams. It's a silly place for a chairlift, really. Ascending over the throat of a 1,500m-long (5,000ft) double chute. Forget the rest of Las Leñas. No skier could ever find - let alone ski - all the possibilities presented by this chairlift. Marte. World Cup racers can't complete a non-stop from the top. Marte. With a compass full of exposures, all conditions are always available somewhere. Marte. Marte defines extreme.

Cerro el Collar: Once you get off Marte chairlift, take Apolo or Jupiter trails until they cross paths. That is the point to take the SNOWBUS, a snowcat with seats on the back that will take you to the back of Cerro El Collar, home of the former South American Extreme Championship. Take Cerro el Collar down into the Juno Bowl and carve your own trail to the mountain's base, or trudge up Cerro Entre Rios or Cerro Torrecillas for the ultimate off-piste adventure.

Living in Resort

Las Leñas has no town, its only the ski resort base so it's good to live everywhere. The Cirrus apartments are the best value and they are just 5 minutes walk to the base.

Bars and Clubs
UFO Point is a classic venue in Las Leñas, with excellent drinks and should be checked out straight away. The Corona Club is another great bar located in the base.

The Casino Las Leñas is located inside the Piscis Hotel in the base and is a good hangout that is open until 4am. La Cima a typical mountain lodge that will be opened at night due its location on Eros slope is located a few metres up from the base.

Other aprés ski classics include the El Brasero Bar or Innsbruck located both in the base and in front of the Eros lifts. These venues also offer live music and a good night out.

Eating Out
Las Leñas is very (VERY) isolated, so the only chance for eating out will be probably going to Malargüe city located at 80km from the Valley, and I don't think it's a good idea as the return could be complicated, the road gets icy in the night and will be dangerous.

Mountain Restos
If you're guiding or skiing with a group of guests, these restaurants are good bets for a lunch stop:
La Cima - Pretty small and crowded, opened during the night with shows and BBQ. Breakfast available as well.
Elurra - Well served with a nice terrace, beautiful sight and home of the famous torch downhill parties during full moon nights.
Santa Fe - Well served, specialized in Tex-Mex food, great "plat du jour" menus, nice terrace but too cold after midday due the shadow of the valley
Innsbruck - A classic of Las Leñas, pretty crowded (without any good reason) in this typical base restaurant, great terrace.
El Brasero - This is the place to be, classic self-service with a great variety of meals, where you can have breakfast, lunch, aprés ski yums yums (ie. Chocolate cakes) and dinner bbq. Sometimes they have live music. Don't miss their breakfasts.

Away Days
Pozo de las Animas - A singular geomorphologic formation named "dolina", it is seen as two great depressions with mirrors of sweet water on the bottom. Pro divers never found how deep it is, some people says that it's connected to the Pacific Ocean. Located at 6kms from Los Molles on the National Road 222 (the same to go to Las Leñas).

Malargüe Town - This is the nearest town to Las Leñas Ski resort.

Caverna de las Brujas - The Caverna de las Brujas Natural Reservation is located on the Moncol mountain at 1930m south of the province of Mendoza at 71 km of the city of Malargüe. You can access the reservation by the Malargue department, by Route Nº 40, on the way to the locality of Bardas Blancas.

Transfer Day
The transfers usually meet in the parking zone. The nearest airport is Malargüe (which is more an airfield than an airport) but it only operates if weather is good.

Thanks to Andres Hidalgo for putting this guide together.

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