A friend in Santiago had recommended La Hoya as a good place to ski as it is cheap and there is good access to off piste terrain. La Hoya is just outside Esquel, and a days drive from El Chalten with the forecast looking good for the next few days we headed there. Esquel turns out to be a relatively unremarkable town, but nestled in amongst mountains and near the Los Alerces national park it is a pleasant place to stay with a good variety of restaurants and bars. The only thing it seems to lack is unofficial money changers the town only has two who offer a pretty poor rate in fact if your heading south of Barlioche you should stock up on pesos there to get acceptable rates. However we did manage to find an local guy keen to exchange so dollars in the queue at a takeaway Parilla (BBQ) place. He was a nice guy and we went with him to his house to do the deal it worked well for both of us as we both got a better rate without a middleman.
The skiing at La Hoya did not disappoint even though the snow cover was pretty poor. It really is a great little resort with lots of hikable off piste to go at although the low snow restricted us to the top bowl that can be dropped into from a plateau which is just a 5 minute hike above the top lift.
The bowl had collected a good amount of wind blown snow and had a corniced entry, basically lots of fun. Out the back of the resort there is access to a ridge line stretching over a few small peaks and giving access to more remote bowls.
So if your skiing in Bariloche and you have time La Hoya is worth a visit if you’ve got backcountry gear, it was only 240 pesos a day at the time of writing and mucho fun!
Yet again the weather turned, but this time we got summer! It was forecast to be 12 degrees at the base of the resort and 6 at the top. However all was not lost there was climbing nearby, a small crag at the edge of town and more interestingly Piedra Parada about 120km away. Piedra Parada had been host to the 2012 Petzl Roctrip so had lots of newly bolted lines and the forecast was for winter sun, yay!