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Skiers bound for Mendoza's resorts arrive from early July through September at the airports of Mendoza or San Rafael (the latter for Las Leñas only). Los Penitentes is a medium-size ski area that attracts mostly Argentines, particularly Mendocinos who can drive up for a day. Vallecitos, the province's oldest ski center, is where most Mendocinos made their first turns.
Los Penitentes. Popular as a day destination for Argentine skiers, this uncrowded ski area, 153 km (95 mi) northwest of Mendoza on Ruta Nacional 7, is named for the rock formations that resemble penitent monks. Despite the elevation of 2,580 meters (8,465 feet) at the base and 3,194 meters (10,479 feet) at the top, the snow here is often thin. When it does snow, the danger of avalanches is severe. The base village has hotels, restaurants, bars, discos, medical services, a ski school, and guides.
Facilities: 700-meter (2,300-foot) vertical drop; 300 hectares (741 acres); 20% beginner, 30% intermediate, 50% advanced; two double chairs, one T-bar, five surface lifts. Cross-country ski trails, extreme and off-piste snocat skiing, sledding, and pato (snow polo).
Lessons and Programs: Ski school, mountain guides, and a children's school and day care.
Lift Tickets: Adults 135 pesos a day.
Rentals: Rental shops at the base area. Mendoza. 261/429-9953. Daily Mid-June to late August.
Vallecitos. Situated at 2,900 meters (9,514 feet) in a glacial valley of the Cordón de Plata range, 80 km (50 mi) from Mendoza and 26 km (16 mi) from Potrerillos, this small ski area owned and operated by Ski Club Mendoza has great off-piste skiing.
Facilities: 400-meter (1,312-foot) vertical drop; 100 hectares (247 acres) of skiable terrain plus unlimited out-of-bounds skiing; 20% beginner, 50% intermediate, 30% advanced; three double chairs, one single chair, three surface lifts.
Rentals: Equipment rental and sales at base lodge. Av. Acceso Este 650, Luján de Cuyo, Mendoza, 5507. 261/312-799. Daily July 1-Sept. 30.
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