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PYRENEES 2017-18

 Poster: A snowHead
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Snowed all day, had some great skiing but so different to yesterday. Still snowing now. Our friends spent 10 hours driving up from Barcelona this morning, the police were stopping people without chains from ascending, but the main roads were clear when we got back to the hotel.

@mrvinegar, how was your drive to Baquiera?
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Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Dubmuffin wrote:
Our friends spent 10 hours driving up from Barcelona this morning


Shocked There's a Guinness record right there! I can completely imagine that the drive was terrible.

It's raining now in my village at 1000m... let's hope the snow gods can inch that zero isobar down from 2000m to e.g. 1800 snowHead free
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@Pyremaniac, to be fair there was a snow chain issue and an accident, but hey, they're here now. Chucking it down with snow at the moment in El Tarter, I really hope we can hold that isobar tomorrow. Hate a snow to rain event😉
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@Dubmuffin, It was looking pretty windy on the webcam earlier today. Not so bad for you?
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@Orange200, It certainly was a bit windy, we stayed low all day, one trip to the top of the Espiolets was enough to put us off going higher. Lots of fun on the lower tree lined runs though. One of us only has 1 weeks skiing behind him, and that was a week in the sun, so he needed a gentle intro to a powder day!
Any tips on sheltered slopes if we brave the higher lifts?
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@Dubmuffin, Not really; Grandvalira is quite exposed up top. Try Montmalus in Grau Roig.. but it's not for beginners.
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@Dubmuffin, Torrallardona, far right of the Soldeu gondola as you go up is a nice tree lined red, rarely has anyone on it as it's a little bit of a trek across to it and if you want added fun has a pomma back up to the top which hardly ever has a wait.
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
@Dubmuffin, If you brave the higher lifts and go up top in order to come down again, I'd say up to the top of Llosada lift (this top will be your worst point), down Obaga/Solana, pick up speed to shoot past the two lift queues for Solanelles and Assaladors (or pole a bit), bear left into Fura, and that takes you a long, gentle, tree-lined run to Os, Gale de Bosc, and eventually to the very base of El Tarter chair. We did that 2-3 times coming back from Grau Roig when the weather was unpleasant.

Pieman, if he has a one-week beginner in the party I wouldn't recommend that poma - I like it but it's a challenge, long, steep and with a dog leg too. Not one to fall off!
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Thanks for the replies everyone Very Happy Our beginner is pretty good, he's 26 and did ski a couple of times as a child so we are managing the drag lifts well, and no queues of course. The Esquirol was carnage this morning after last night's snow, not sure if there's been much grooming here!
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Esquirol is ALWAYS carnage, I strongly recommend going down Gale de Bosc at the end of the day.

Oops, sorry for thread drift, this is turning into a bit of a live Trip Report...
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@Pyremaniac (or anyone else), how busy are the ski resorts closest to Barcelona likely to be between about Tue 20th and Mon 25th March this year, and what are snow conditions normally like then? Seems like they're pretty good just now, though of course could change in 3 weeks.

We might be able to book some holiday leave around then (not quite a full week, and not Saturday to Saturday) and there are cheap flights to Barcelona. But I think the dates clash with Fallas and Easter holidays - does that mean it'll be rammed? Also, would it be easy to find cheap accommodation for irregular dates?

I've never been to the Pyrenees before, and we don't usually ski in peak weeks anyway, so no idea what to expect.

Looks like car hire is the cheapest way to go for 2 people (?), so I'll probably also have some annoying questions about snow chains etc. if we do end up going Laughing
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 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
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@Orange200, good point about the drag lift. Forgot it's not for the faint hearted. Out in Soldeu next week hoping the temperature stays low. I'm sort of on my own (skiing with my parents but they are 80 so don't ski for more than an hour a day) so if anyone is about it might be nice to meet up for a few hours.
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So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
pieman666 wrote:
@Orange200, good point about the drag lift. Forgot it's not for the faint hearted. Out in Soldeu next week hoping the temperature stays low. I'm sort of on my own (skiing with my parents but they are 80 so don't ski for more than an hour a day) so if anyone is about it might be nice to meet up for a few hours.


@pieman666 Give me a shout. I might be able to fit in something from about 10/11-ish onwards on Monday or Tuesday.
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You know it makes sense.
Will do @ysb33r, arrive Sunday, will drop you a pm then.
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@denfinella 20-25th March is drawing towards the end of the season - there will certainly be snow around but it will likely be spring conditions. However it is not impossible to get lucky - I can remember several seasons in the last decade where we've had fresh snow even at the start of April.

More relevantly, that weekend is Easter, and with it falling so early this year the resorts near Barcelona will be *extremely* busy. Your best bet in case of poor snow will be Andorra, but that will also be very busy. If there is good snow then probably the Neige Catalans resorts (http://www.neigescatalanes.com/en/presentation-3 - a group of several smaller resorts in French Catalonia) would be an interesting call. They are each good fun for one day, and they are cheap. And then french 'do' ski resorts better than the Spanish or Andorrans!
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
denfinella wrote:
how busy are the ski resorts closest to Barcelona likely to be between about Tue 20th and Mon 25th March this year

Weekdays, a week before Easter? They are likely to be deserted snowHead

Quote:
and what are snow conditions normally like then?

Snow depths are invariably excellent. Snow quality depends on the season; the most common setup is plenty of fresh snow falling but warmer temperatures meaning that it turns soft pretty quickly. It's absolutely the best time of the season for piste skiing, if you ask me; and often gives up the goods for decent enough off-piste skiing too. And this season, who knows...it could potentially still be winterishly chilly!
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[cross-post... And a pretty funny one Toofy Grin]

Have I got my dates wrong? I thought Good Friday was the 30th Puzzled
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@AlunAlun and @Pyremaniac, thanks... two contrasting opinions Laughing

So the days we'd potentially be skiing would be Tuesday 20th (at the earliest) to Monday 26th inclusive (at the latest - possibly heading back before that). That covers bits of two weeks: I think the first of these is Fallas and the second is Easter hols (though Easter Sunday isn't til the following weekend). Do either of these count as peak weeks for the area? Queues / crowds? Worse at weekends?

Spring conditions are fine; lack of snow closing pistes isn't so ideal. We're piste skiers only.

@Pyremaniac, which resorts would you recommend? La Molina is the closest big resort; Port del Comte looks like it could be fun for a day or two; but Andorra and the eastern French Pyrenees aren't much further...
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Valencia has a bank holiday on Monday 19th; and pretty much everyone except Catalonia has one on Thursday 29th (and of course everyone is off on the 30th and the 2nd). I believe that the school holidays only amount to one week, which is Holy Week (i.e. from Saturday 24th onwards) for Catalonia and about half of the other Autonomous Communities, and a week later for the other half.

So I think you'll be fine on your proposed dates. Your Tuesday to Friday looks particularly good. But yes, weekends are always busy (most Spanish resorts are entirely weekend-oriented). As AlunAlun says, I wouldn't choose Masella, for example, on the weekend, though it's a fine option in week days - especially when combined with La Molina under the Alp2500 lift pass. Instead I too would go for the Neige Catalanes, Andorra (two rather different experiences, of course) or depending on the conditions I would happily promote Porte del Comte as a great weekend option. I can't really help you choose between them...but if you look back over the previous few years' installments of this thread you'll find info and photos of all of them!


Last edited by You need to Login to know who's really who. on Thu 1-03-18 22:18; edited 1 time in total
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OK, that makes sense. Thanks. Next question: any resort recommendations? And is hire car the best way to go?
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Sorry, was still writing about the choices (as an edit) when you posted that.

A car is very very useful in the Pyrenees. Yes there's a train to La Molina, a bus to Font Romeu, etc...but you really limit your options that way.
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@denfinella school holidays is the week before the easter weekend (19th-23rd) i.e. when you're here; so that week will definitely be busier than usual. I agree with everything else the Pyremaniac says - particularly about the car!
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
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How busy can I expect the Grandvalira ski area to be from March 26th-31st?
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> How busy can I expect the Grandvalira ski area to be from March 26th-31st?

On Monday 26th (easter monday) it will be unpleasantly busy. The rest of the week I would expect it to be fairly quiet.
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I thought Easter Monday is the 2nd April this year
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Great frustration & joy today in the Andorra Vallnord resorts. Due to the massive snowfall Arinsal was still closed. Pal said they would be open so I pitched up early only to find that by 10:30 still only the the area near to the La Caubella gondola was open. Great parts of this is really a beginners area, so the lift queues. got very long, very quickly and there was nothing interesting to ski. Arcalis was supposed to be closed due the 4/5 avalance risk, but they started to open it up, so I drove over there. Yes, there is a lot of snow (and a lot of avalanche debris everywhere). Deep-deep snow and found some untracked stuff on the endearing La Portella d'Arcalis (black) slope. Was told before starting off, not to risk by goign off too far left or right but to keep roughly in the central area.



Avalanche control has been asctive today and yesterday. Booms & bangs have been coming quite often. Apparantly more snow is coming tonight and over the weekend.
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 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
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Fatal avalanche in Valnord yesterday, a mountain guide performing an inspection for the freeride world cup.

We witnessed an avalanche rescue from the bowl above Tarter today, under the ridge on the right looking up.

Stay safe people...
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 So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
@denfinella, @pieman666, @rizzotherock, my calendar had easter marked in on the wrong weekend. Apologies.

What I'm trying to say is that the week *before* easter will be pretty busy (as it's Spanish school holidays), but the week *after* easter will be much quieter (apart from Easter Monday). Sorry for confusion.

@ysb33r, Shock
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Is it safe to drink the tap water in vielha? I would assume so fed from the mountains?
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Thanks all. That makes sense - so with that all in mind, we'd probably hire a car and aim just to ski Tuesday 20th March to Friday 23rd in La Molina / Masella. Then head back before it gets busy, perhaps with Saturday in somewhere like Porte del Comte if conditions were good, though that would involve re-hiring ski equipment. A smaller French area nearby could be another weekend option - but I think it would cost extra with the hire company to go into France.

Do you know if winter tyres and / or snow chains are either included or available from Barcelona airport hire car companies? Or is usually OK to take a risk at that time of year (something I'd never say in the Alps, but perhaps it's different on Spanish roads!)?
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Flying to Toulouse next weekend for 4 days and booked Grand Tourmalet for the weekend. Looking for off piste if poss. Where should we go for Monday and Tuesday. Thinking of St Lary, Payregudes or Baquiera? Also if the weather is bad which is best for trees.
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Little Martin wrote:
Is it safe to drink the tap water in vielha? I would assume so fed from the mountains?

For sure it's safe! (I'm not aware of anywhere "civilized" in Spain where it's not; it's not the 1950s Razz
I only drink tap water when I'm in the mountains... it tastes ok (though sadly I'm too accustomed to the taste of bottled water these days, what with the water in Barcelona tasting unbearably bad (and we pay the highest water rates in the country Mad)
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Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
denfinella wrote:
A smaller French area nearby could be another weekend option - but I think it would cost extra with the hire company to go into France.

I've never experienced any such restriction myself... but car hire is a jungle and nothing would surprise me. (Maybe I've "illegally" crossed the border before without even knowing!)

Quote:
Do you know if winter tyres and / or snow chains are either included or available from Barcelona airport hire car companies? Or is usually OK to take a risk at that time of year (something I'd never say in the Alps, but perhaps it's different on Spanish roads!)?

I would doubt they come included. I think I would risk it if the forecast doesn't look too bad. I think buying chains en route would probably work out cheaper than hiring them... the hire cost always seems to be astronomical whenever anybody mentions it on here. In fact I think I read here on sH once that the car hire companies basically don't want the hassle of cleaning and re-packing chains and so they price them to deter people!
If you're hiring from the airport, there's an Alcampo hypermarket really close by which will have chains at a good price.
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BertieG wrote:
Flying to Toulouse next weekend for 4 days and booked Grand Tourmalet for the weekend. Looking for off piste if poss. Where should we go for Monday and Tuesday. Thinking of St Lary, Payregudes or Baquiera? Also if the weather is bad which is best for trees.

I imagine the conditions are fantastic in all of them (they certainly are in Baqueira... although that particular resort is not a tree resort). I only experienced St Lary for one afternoon,... in terrible weather but it really impressed me (which I guess speaks for itself!). There's a fantastic forest piste down to a lake, at the back of the resort which we ended up lapping several times. Sadly, I still haven't visited Peyragudes (though I've driven past part of several times; the bit I've seen doesn't have trees). Also check out Val Louren... small but I believe it has trees. By the way, you should try to fit in a visit to the Balnea spa if that's your sort of thing. Superb and cheap!
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Great thanks, v helpful.
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@Pyremaniac, thanks presumed that was the case.

Tonights fun was ordering food with the little spanish i know and a waiter who doesnt speak english. Got there in the end but ended up with a bottle or wine instead of glass Shocked
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Well snow-forecast got that completely wrong.

Arrived in Baqueira expecting sideways rain and got a gloriously sunny day.
With an overnight sprinkling of snow freshening everything up pistes are pretty much perfect.
Some off piste taking care, but many of the off piste itineraries are closed.

Quite a lot of snow forecast for the coming week.
Back there mid week so hopefully some sun again after the snow.
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Little Martin wrote:
Tonights fun was ordering food with the little spanish i know and a waiter who doesnt speak english. Got there in the end but ended up with a bottle or wine instead of glass Shocked

Cool No choice but to drink it!

@mortonia, yeah it wasn't supposed to clear up until later, but the morning was spectacular on the Aran side, and merely scattered clouds (with some low cloud in the Bonaigua valley) on the Àneu side. Photos to follow soon!
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mortonia wrote:
Quite a lot of snow forecast for the coming week.


Well, assuming my assumption above was correct (weather from Lisbon travels east), I'll tell you that Lisbon is expecting rain for the next week, after having it for the last week.

Hope it works out for you all!
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@mortonia, I had a great drive down from tolouse yesterday warm sun all the way.

First day skiing today...
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