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PYRENEES 2017-18

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Mainly piste, certainly not a party town but great skiing is the main priority. Have been to Andorra many times so looking to try other Pyrenean resorts.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
@wishfulthinker, In that case, have a look at Les Angles. Reasonable size town and station for a few days skiing. Easy to get to from Carcassonne and is also a very short drive to Formigueres for excellent off piste if the conditions are good or Pyrenees 2000 which is also a decent sized piste resort.
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
That was the sort of area we were thinking of. Found some information on the neige catalan ski pass which suggests you have the choice of 5 or 6 different resorts, which includes Les Angles and Font Romeu, sounds like good value for money but not sure which resort it would be better to be based in. I'm assuming that roads are kept clear around all the resorts so it's easy enough to shuffle around them in a car?
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@wishfulthinker, I have only stayed in Les Angles. All the roads were clear even after about 20cm snow one afternoon but it was mid MArch.
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
There are few things that I like more than helping Pyrenees-lovers to enjoy their trip! So first, let's be clear: a roadtrip in the Pyrenees is fantasy without a car. But with a car, it can be heaven. Chains are available in French supermarkets or stores for a reasonable price... We can try to help you.

The Neiges Catalanes is a fine option... but only one of many possibilities. From Carcasonne you could almost as easily get to Baquiera in Spain, or Superbagnères, Peyragudes, Sant Lary... (and of course Andorra)

Help us narrow it down! What kind of thing gives you a buzz?
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Well, the season has got off to a fantastic early start in Baqueira at least; they opened on Saturday with 75km across all sectors, and although there are many orientations with not much coverage (and so the 24-hours-a-day cannon snow that's being produced at the moment is certainly necessary to keep all those km open) there are also many places which look properly wintery. In particular, the main face and Argulls-Bonaigua both have a very respectable cover. Saturday itself was stormy although unfortunately with rain at lower altitudes, whereas Sunday started overcast but cleared up as the day went on. The last two days have been sunny, but it's now all about what ends up falling over the next four or five days of instability. Hopefully the season in the Pyrenees will really get started!

Here are some photos from Sunday:







Looking down from the crest at Costarjás into the Bagergue valley:



Port Ainé and Espot both open for free on Friday, with reduced prices over the weekend.

Fingers crossed for the next few days!
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Some decent snow forecast this weekend, let's hope it continues...
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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!
Sounds like care is needed if venturing off piste as snow condition warnings being posted.

Check @davidof's post in Off Piste.
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 You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net.
You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net.
@Pyremaniac, We are only going to be there for a week unfortunately, so your recommendations as to number 1, 2 and 3 preferences based on variety and km of piste skiing available would be really helpful. I emailed Hertz who said that they don't do either winter tyres or snow chains so a recommendation on where to buy some on route would also be very helpful. Many thanks for the responses everyone
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 Ski the Net with snowHeads
Ski the Net with snowHeads
@wishfulthinker, For sheer number of resorts, you can't do better than the Neiges Catalanes (Font-Romeu, Les Angles, Espace Cambre d'Aze, Porté Puymorens, Formigueres, ....). You absolutely need a car to get around them, but that part of the Pyrenees is gentle and it's not too likely that you'll need to use snow chains. You absolutely must buy them if the snow falls, though; and they won't be cheap from a random garage... best to stop in a supermarket on the way. Carcassonne downwards is not my neck of the woods, so I can't advise; but you're looking for a decent-size supermarket or hypermarket or DIY shop or similar. There must be several between Carcassonne and the Pyreness. However, there's a serious proviso: the very eastern Pyrenees are gentle, rolling and sunny. The skiing is great; they don't generally put ski resorts in places where there isn't decent stuff to ski. But it's absolutely not an agressive Alpine environment. It is beautiful, but the Matterhorn it isn't. As for accommodation, I really don't know what to suggest. If you like a bit of life, then possibly choose Puigcerdà right on the Spanish border... they have a cinema, ice rink, etc.

Another ski resort which doesn't really fit in with any road trip apart from Andorra, but which I think is worth mentioning, is the French resort of Ax-3-domains, which is a ski area that I have a bit of a soft spot for and which I think has good potential, especially for off-piste. I am looking forward to revisiting sometime soon. It is rather more Alpine, and has lots of orientations.

For an completely alternative idea, Saint-Lary-Soulan is a town with a fair bit of life when it's a French holiday period. (French resorts seem to be ghost towns outside of holidays though!) I enjoyed my couple of days there, and if you combine it with the marvellous Balnea Spa in the nearby resort of Val Louron, you can't go wrong. In fact, this year they've combined forces with Piau Engaly, Val Louron and Peyragudes to become the "Four Valleys". Various different valleys, so it's a proper road trip, but with a good value joint pass, and one of the best spas in the Pyrenees. We're talking about the central Pyrenees now, and the mountain environment is more evident.

As for Baqueira, it offers amongst the very best of the Pyrenees when it comes to the mountains themselves, and has excellent restaurant and hotel life (but nothing in the Pyrenees is especially "apres"). However, it's not particularly suited to road trips. You could combine it with (hour-long) trips to Boí Taüll and Superbagnères, both of which are great little places in their own way.

Roads are very well kept in the Pyrenees in general, especially when they are access routes to the ski resorts; the local economy totally depends upon them. In that respect, given my albeit very limited experience of the Alps, the Pyrenees have nothing to be ashamed of at all!
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 snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
As for current conditions, it's time to say goodbye to the last rays of sun of this pre-season period... the following was Baqueira at 4pm today:



Everything now points towards one or two days of proper snowfall, meaning that the real winter season will begin on Sunday across the Pyrenees. This weekend all the Andorran resorts will open, as well as several Spanish ones. Baqueira will have one of the most extensive offerings in Europe, with up to 120km of piste open. Of the remaining Pyrenean areas, most will open in time for the Spanish (very) long weekend the following week.
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 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
@Pyremaniac, Wow, thanks so much for the information. We are staying in Saint Lary Soulan in the summer to watch the tour. Have tried various booking websites trying to find accommodation there for Feb half time and there seems very little available. Like the idea of the Neige Catalanes option so might explore that a bit further.
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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
snowHead snowHead snowHead
More than half a metre of new snow fell in Baqueira overnight, and I guess they'll be looking to open a great deal of the whole skiable area tomorrow when the weather clears up. (It's snowing quite heavily right now.) They will be leagues ahead of any other resort on the Iberian peninsular tomorrow.

The Neige Catalanes are opening a few pistes in every resort this weekend, as are all the publicly-owned resorts in Spanish Catalan Pyrenees - which, given that Ax-3-Domains is also working to open today and the Andorran resorts are now already in action, means that every resort in the eastern Pyrenees (except for maybe the tiny French ones that I'm unfamiliar with) have something open. On the central and western side, it seems that most if not all resorts on both sides of the border are targeting the Spanish mega bank holiday weekend that runs next week from Wednesday to Sunday (with one working day on Thursday that all of Spain will have tried to get as holiday!).
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
70cm has fallen at Superbagneres during the last 48 hours. Very cold today and high winds delayed the opening of certain lifts, but with snow abating during the afternoon, tomorrow should be fantastic.

Cauterets closed today because of a bad accident on the road up, I gather a car left the road and plunged into the river at the bottom of a ravine
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
After a couple of bad early starts to the season, 2017-18 has certainly kicked off in style. Amazing conditions after the heavy snow on Friday and Saturday, today the sun came out and provided us with a fantastic playground at our local station Superbagneres. Cold, dry and well groomed pistes, with knee high powder to play in. Lets hope the good start continues Very Happy Very Happy Very Happy





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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Yes, yesterday was everything we hoped it would be! Blue skies and fresh snow abound - albeit very avalanchy. The extremely low temperatures made the day a bit more uncomfortable than one might have wished, but given that it's the best start to the season in the last five years for the resorts on the northern side of the divide, nobody was complaining too much wink

In Baqueira the powder is still completely untransformed on the less sunny slopes, and on piste the conditions are really excellent. Both here and in various other central French resorts, there is a metre or so of snow up top - fantastic for the time of year. Today, of course, it was a ghost town, given that the Spanish holidays don't start until Wednesday. I did my usual few laps of Peülla at lunchtime.... naturally, I had the place entirely to myself Toofy Grin



Hunting out the views, yesterday:





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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Spent yesterday in Ax.

Two things of note on the way up. One was seeing snow at Foix on the way in, can't remember the last time I saw that. The second the road up to Andorra was closed. Lucky we hadn't planned to head up there.

Only 2/3 of Ax was open, and it was a lack of snow coverage in the Campels domaine that was keeping it closed. The tops of the main pistes, in that area, had no snow as it had been blown away by the high winds of the previous few days.

Piste conditions were excellent. Off the pistes was very chopped after the weekend and still a few rocks showing so care was needed. Off piste I didn't really look. Some of the tree routes had been skied, but there were visible avalanches along the ride at the top off the Masedre chair. With a 4/5 risk and a group very happy to be skiing the pistes venturing further afield was saved for another day.
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
The Spanish mega-bank-holiday starts tomorrow, and so all Spanish and Andorran resorts - and many French ones - are pulling out all the stops. It's been fantastic (though cold) weather the last three days, and although there's been a bit of trouble with the wind most places are offering some very decent conditions on the northern side of the range.

In Andorra, all sectors of both Grandvalira and VallNord are open. Grandvalira has 90km of piste on offer, although there's no connection between Pas-Grau and Soldeu-Tarter-Canillo for the time being.

Baqueira has 125km open, and many French resorts have extremely reasonable snow cover as well, it seems. Even in the Eastern Pyrenees which tend to suffer more, the Neige Catalanes are off to an excellent start, with Porté Puymorens and Font Romeu looking good and both Formigueres and Les Angles hoping to open 100% (that latter with depths of up to a metre).

Mortonia, glad to hear that Ax is doing pretty well in this early-season period. As you say, there is avalanche activity in many places where there is snow, at the moment. I too have been happy to stay mainly on piste, given that piste conditions are currently lovely what with the soft cold snow.
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A fantastic first day of the mega bank holiday weekend here in Baqueira. Lots of people, true; but not as bad as I expected (accepting that I give the main drag a wide berth on peak days)... and a nice atmosphere in general. Rightly so, given that there was wall-to-wall sunshine and plenty of snow to go around.







The Moët was packed, naturally:



I had to pass on Orri de Tredós given the lack of snow on that central horizontal cliff line...



...only to later spot that they've bulldozed some sort of f*cking green piste all the way though the mountainside (just to the left of the red line; the purple line shows the "real" route):



Colour me unimpressed Evil or Very Mad. I hope this is just some sort of crap for the bank holiday weekend. That is a pretty much virgin mountainside - a favourite of free-mountain skiers - and frankly the world can do without further Disneyfication of the mountain, especially in a resort like Baqueira which prides itself on being "core". Humph.
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Can't imagine them sticking a green run there. The only access is via the Tosaumet drag, not really a beginners lift. Might be looking for another route in that valley as the Orri de Tredos doesn't hold the snow too well. Will have to keep an eye on it as some good skiing in that little area.
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Pyremaniac wrote:
The Spanish mega-bank-holiday starts tomorrow, and so all Spanish and Andorran resorts - and many French ones - are pulling out all the stops. It's been fantastic (though cold) weather the last three days, and although there's been a bit of trouble with the wind most places are offering some very decent conditions on the northern side of the range.


Oh that explains the million people on the Pas De La Casa webcam this am. Thanks for all the pics Pyremaniac have fun.
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
mortonia wrote:
Can't imagine them sticking a green run there. The only access is via the Tosaumet drag, not really a beginners lift. Might be looking for another route in that valley as the Orri de Tredos doesn't hold the snow too well. Will have to keep an eye on it as some good skiing in that little area.


I may have been exaggerating a little, about it being green wink. Presumably the part at the far right is black (although not double-black like the real Orri de Tredòs) but it looks like there's a long flat hike to get there. But they weren't "supposed" to go putting pistes on that hillside, let alone shaped and bashed ones! (The real Orri de Tredòs - like Passarells and Gallina - is clearly an itinerary in the old style of Gerber, Cigalera [part of the old Lo Boscas route] and Barlongueta.)
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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!
A bit of a tempete last night with winds hitting 200 kph at Les Angles. It was mild, with blocking against the chain, colder air on the Spanish side provided snow with mainly rain on the French side. Temperatures have now dropped with snow falling heavilly to 1400 metres.

Our resorts (Luchon-Superbagneres & Peyragudes) are now closed this week until the weekend.
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