Some 20km south of Bariloche is Cerro Catedral, named after the Gothic steeples of rock that make up its craggy summit (2405m). In summer, the village of Villa Catedral, at the foot of the bowl, is the starting-point for a couple of fantastic treks up and around Cerro Catedral, though you could just take a cable car and then a chairlift to reach Refugio Lynch near the summit (1870m). A short but steep climb takes you to the ridge, where the views are superb, and you just might catch a glimpse of condors.
Along with Las Leñas, Bariloche and the Lake District is Argentina’s premier ski destination, packed in the winter with ski and snowboard fans from Argentina, Brazil and further afield. While it does get busy in peak season (July & Aug), the quality of the powder, infrastructure and après-ski is very good, with Bariloche acting as a hub for the surrounding area. The main ski resort is Cerro Catedral (wcatedralaltapatagonia.com) served by Villa Catedral at its base, with plenty of accommodation, equipment rental, restaurants, comfortable lifts and easy access to the après-ski in nearby Bariloche – not to mention outstanding views. There are 67km of runs in all, of varying grades of difficulty, some with descents of up to 4km in length. Other resorts in the area include the smaller, more upmarket Cerro Bayo (wcerrobayoweb.com) 10km east of Villa La Angostura, and La Hoya (wskilahoya.com) some 13km northeast of Esquel, a low-key family centre with moderately challenging pistes, nine lifts and good powder.
For five days in August, Bariloche celebrates the Fiesta Nacional de la Nieve, with ski races, parades and a torchlit evening descent on skis to open the season officially, although the season actually lasts from around mid-June to mid-October. If you want the probability of good snow conditions but prefer quieter slopes, go in September.