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Pyrenees snow report 2019-20

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Happy autumn everyone! The new winter season is just a few weeks away, and the pre-season snowfalls have started.

There are several news-worthy developments this year:

Grandvalira in Andorra has some new pistes and lifts in order to incorporate the Peretol snow park into the ski area proper; there's now a green piste which runs from Grau Roig along the hem of the mountain, alongside the Valira river, to reach Peretol. This piste is divided into two by a short drag lift half way along which allows it to regain altitude. Consequently and sensibly they've also run short red and blue diversions from the opposite side of Grau valley (the side closest to Pas) to connect directly with that green over what looks like a bridge over the access road that goes to the car park. To get from Peretol back up to the main ski area, they've extended one of the existing Pla de les Pedres lifts downwards - and, naturally, extended one of the existing blues downwards from where that lift used to start to where it starts now, a hundred metres or so lower down. Here's the new piste map: https://www.grandvalira.com/sites/default/files/files/mapa_1920_cast.pdf . For the moment there's no new car parking available at the Peretol (Bordes d'Envalira) entrance and so I guess it's bus-served only. Although the marketing says that it's all about connecting the Peretol snow park, the reality seems to be that it's strategically useful to connect Grau Roig to Peretol via a cat track so that the Grau-Soldeu connection isn't reliant on the Cubil chairlift that goes from the Grau car park towards Soldeu and which is one of the worst bottlenecks in the whole area; if that lift were to go out of action there it would cause big problems - until now.

Peyragudes in the French Pyrenees has a new gondola which at last connects the town of Loudenvielle to the ski area, with the aim of reducing the traffic going up the mountain road and hopefully also increasing the number of summer visitors (which seems to be an objective of most ski areas these days, and rightly so). In the long run it's conceivable that they'll run another gondola up the other side of the valley to the Val Louron ski area, thus creating a very respectable interconnected area.

La Molina in the Catalan Pyrenees has at long last taken steps to improve its IMO terrible lift connections, with the gondola which ran up to Masella now going all the way to the top of the mountain, and with a new chairlift from that same departure point now going up to the Coll de Pal beginners area (reached by car along a back road) which was effectively cut of from the rest of the ski area (as far as beginners were concerned) because daring to leave it implied having to then take the gondola and a very difficult red (Comabella) in order to return. I'm sad that the lower half of Comabella will no longer be the oasis of peace which it always was, but I can't argue against this very sensible development.

Little Puyvalador in the French Catalan Pyrenees, which closed two years ago after defaulting on its debt, will be partially reopened by the local mayor who's managed to grub up €600.000 to get the lower drag lifts running again. It won't offer much to anyone but beginners like that, but the ticket price will be a mere €20 and of course the idea is to try to get the whole resort open again.

And finally Boí Taüll in the Spanish Catalan Pyrenees has been taken over by the publicly-owned FGC (Catalan railway company) which rescues every failing ski area in Catalonia. They now directly run six of the ten Catalan alpine ski areas, and I for one am pleased that they keep these little places alive and thus maintain jobs etc in the mountain valleys. Boí in particular is a gem, and it would have been a tragic loss.

Last season was entirely unexciting, weather wise, and so I struggled to get in the mood. But I guess it's normal to have a boring season from time to time. (That said, the numbers were apparently perfectly good across the board, so maybe I've become far too reliant on fresh snow!) Here's hoping that this season delivers the goods snowHead
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Thanks for the update! Yeah last season was weird, some crazy temps, I skied in 20°C+ multiple times and each time the pistes were jammed with people, hopefully the coming season is more like 2018...
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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?
@Pyremaniac, great info as usual. Fingers crossed for an exciting season.
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Nuit De La Glisse in Toulouse next week should get the old skiing juices going.
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
mrvinegar wrote:
Thanks for the update! Yeah last season was weird, some crazy temps, I skied in 20°C+ multiple times and each time the pistes were jammed with people, hopefully the coming season is more like 2018...


Yeah baby!

Already have some snow one the high tops, although a lot have melted away. Found quite a bit of snow out walking last weekend. All just little teasers. But hey, Arcalis in Andorra plans to open late November already. I guess they are hoping for enough snow in the La Coma bowl. Let's see what the next couple of weeks bring.
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The first snow of the winter has fallen across the Pyrenees, and it looks like it'll keep on coming during the next week or so. A promising start to the season!

A little more news: both Baqueira and Arcalís will have a new red piste this season. The one in Baquiera connects the Baciver sector with the lower part of the Orri de Tredòs black; in Arcalís, it's in the La Coma sector.
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Cauterets in the western French Pyrenees was the first to receive a metre of snow the other day! (That place gets tons of snow; it's often the ski area with the most accumulated snowfall in Europe - and occassionally in the world - at some point during the season proper, thanks to those north-westerlies coming in straight from the northern Atlantic... Good old Ireland, keeping only most of the precipitation for itself wink)

No sign of any early openings yet, but all eyes are on Masella and Arcalís as usual.
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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!
It looks like the snowy weather - primarily from westerlies - is going to continue for the next week and a half, and with decently low temperatures to boot.

So it comes as no surprise that Masella will open tomorrow with the customary blue piste in the Coma Oriola sector, progressively opening more pistes as the week goes on. Formigal and Astún in the western Spanish Pyrenees have brought forward their opening date to join Arcalís in Andorra in opening on Saturday, as has Porté Puymorens in the eastern French Pyrenees (just over the border from Andorra) - which will apparently be the first French non-glacier ski area to open this season.

Things are looking good so far... snowHead
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Had a drive up and over to Formigal yesterday and although there was a lot of snow on the French side of the col the Spanish side looked to have quite a bit less due to wind would be my guess. They are still looking good for opening this weekend as already mentioned, and then full opening will be from the following weekend. No news of bringing forward any opening dates for the French side in these parts as yet, however, my notification for my employment at Artouste did have a ‘caveat’ about the start date possibly being brought forward. That said we´re not due to open until mid December anyway.
Snowfall has been abundant in these parts so I’m sure some resorts will be seeing if it’s financially viable to get all the staff in early!
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Ski the Net with snowHeads
Bucketing down in Andorra...
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snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
Pumba wrote:
Had a drive up and over to Formigal yesterday and although there was a lot of snow on the French side of the col the Spanish side looked to have quite a bit less due to wind would be my guess. They are still looking good for opening this weekend as already mentioned, and then full opening will be from the following weekend.

Indeed - but happily the last couple of days of snow has topped things up again, and it's looking very decent right now:
https://www.nevasport.com/noticias/art/57963/Formigal-abrira-33-km-de-pistas-de-esqui-mientras-sigue-nevando/

They'll be opening 33km on Saturday, which is a reasonable offering for this "bonus" weekend.
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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.
It certainly is! The Pyrenees look fabulous today as the cloud has lifted and the sun has made an appearance. Snow limit looks to have dropped to about 800m last night.
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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
Absolutely! Here's a spectacular compilation of images from today covering the majority of Pyrenean ski areas, on the Spanish "cousin" of sH: https://www.nevasport.com/phorum/read.php?48,4051400,4073491#msg-4073491
What a great way to start the season! snowHead snowHead
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
Must be easier to upload photos on that site!!!!

Fab compilation of photos, just checked skipass and they are saying another metre in the next week down my way.
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Grandvalira webcams are looking impressively white, and their site announces opening 30 November.

Season pass approx 20% discount until 8 Dec for those interested.
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Baqueira opening on Saturday Very Happy
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Just got an email, Grandvalira opening this Saturday 23/11!
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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?
...sorry, the site says “partial opening of Pas and Grau Roig sectors”.

It also says Ordino-Arcalis is already open.
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Yup, several areas managed to open some lifts last weekend: Masella and La Molina, Arcalís, Porté Puymorens, Formigal and Astún.

This weekend they'll be joined by Pas-Grau sector of Grandvalira as noted by Orange200, the central sector of Baqueira, Cerler, Panticosa, Candanchú and Cauterets. That makes for a lot of options across the Pyrenees.

Formigal is claiming to have the most km open in Europe for a non-glacier ski area this weekend, which is feasible. (Zermatt-Cervinia and Soelden are way ahead overall, though.)

In other news, the day prices at Artouste is just €19 any day of the season - which runs from Christmas to April, and also at weekends during December. With a season ticket at under €200 and currently almost 2m of snow, it's hard to imagine a better deal!
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
The Artouste price also includes the bus from Pau if you need it!!! Also just €9 for under 14's. I'm totally biased but it is a stunning place to ski, the scenery is magnificent, great freeride opportunities as well. Not to mention the friendly staff!!! At least one of which who can welcome you in broad Yorkshire!
The station was recently taken over by the commune of Laruns after several years under the Altiservice umbrella and the new direction is very forward thinking and a breath of fresh air, just really hoping for a successful season, the numbers for the train this summer were up on previous years so a good start for sure.
If anyone fancies a trip out over this way hit me up during the season and we shall sort something out.
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Just had a mornings ski touring in Ax.

Snow coverage pretty good with more forecast over the coming days. They were busy testing the lifts as I was skinning up.

I plan to head over to Baqueira next week, as they open up more lifts and the next weather front passes through.

Looking like it's going to be a good start to the season. Very Happy
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Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Grandvalira announce they will open “most” this weekend.
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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!
Yup, and Baqueira have said they'll open almost 100% of the domain!
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You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net.


Very much a partial opening at Grandvalira yesterday. Not as much snow as I'd expected.
Limited runs open and rocks and grass showing off to the sides of the pistes.
Only able ski in Pas and Grau Roig as runs and lifts for access to the other areas not open.

Still can't complain too much as was November. Perhaps Baqueira would have been a better bet as they seem to have open up a lot this weekend.

Something I've not seen before - cars racing on the circuit at the top of the pass. Serious opposite lock on the snow !!!!
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Yeah, it seems that the western/central part of the range is better at the moment, though the webcam pictures look reasonable enough at Masella for instance.

High temperatures at the moment, which meant it rained lower down these last couple of days; best to stick to the upper half of the areas (or go to Boí Taüll wink)
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Everything is open!!!!!!!!
From Blanhiblar to Bonaigua, the entire resort is up and running! And: (njah, njah, njah Very Happy Very Happy Very Happy Cool Cool Cool ....) we had a big dump of approx 40 cm last night (sorry, I don´t do inches).
Good thing it was AFTER the shift of the piste groomers ended.
Fresh tracks and off-piste for everybody, no lift queues, blues skies, amazing people, great service....what more do you need?
Oh, I know: a resident's season ticket!
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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.
Off to Soldeu tomorrow morning for the first long weekend of season. It's absolutely bucketing it down with rain here in Barcelona but apparently the heavy precipitation has not reached very far west and the ski resorts are getting only a dusting Sad

Nevertheless it has been cold for the last week and Grandvalira reports today that it expects to open 120ish km of pistes and open links to all sectors by Friday. The webcams show plenty of coverage, but mortonia's post from last week suggests that it's all a bit thin - I doubt I'll be risking my skis off piste.

Still, the forecast is good, so it promises to be a good weekend.
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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
Armed with my new BaqueiraPass another good early season days skiing in Baqueira yesterday.
Skied in all 3 areas and snow cover is excellent for early December.
Even managed to pop off the side in a few places.

Tapas lunch at El Refugi as good as ever and tried out the upgraded Apres Bar at 1500.
A much better layout and loads more space.



Lots of building going on at 1500 - 40 new houses. €2M a pop if you fancy a Spanish Piste side spot.
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
For those who know and love Baqueira-Beret for its quiet, serene and at times solitary skiing, the first of three dreaded events during the season has arrived: MEET EL PUENTE!
Every year on the first weekend in December (Día de la constitución), locals, staff and emergency services personnel in the Vall D'Aran pray to the G_d of all passionate skiers to let them get through the madness (la locura en español) of the high season without physical and psychological damage, while the hoteliers, restaurant and store owners perk up and welcome the influx of approx. 15.000 to 18.000 hard-paying, hard-partying, extremely affluent and formidably geared-up resort guests from Madrid, Barcelona, Bilbao...you name it, they are here - in force, with their kids, grandkids, sons and daughters, nephews and nieces, nannies and private chefs.
While during the "normal season" one can expect an average of approx. 3000-5000 guests a day which very neatly spread all over the 160 km of piste and off-piste terrain, making queuing at the lifts an extremely rare annoyance, you will find lines at the ticket boxes, rental shops, the gondola, the lifts, the Pummers, the restaurants and everywhere else on and off the mountain in the Val D'Aran, including on the only two access roads to the resort proper. Expect to A) leave at 7:45 in the morning and get to the parking in Baqueira at 8:15 with the remote chance to still score a parking space (trust me, you WANT one) or B) leave around 10:30, with no traffic but also no parking. Today, 10:15: Parking Baqueira - full, Parking Garage Vall de Ruda - full, Parking Orri - full, Parking Beret - full, Parking Bonaigua.....yes, FULL!
Now imagine a family of 5 (3 kids+parents), having driven from Bilbao, Madrid, Barcelona either the night before or in the morning, staying in one of the pueblos further down the hill due to the outrageous prices for accommodation during the high season. They got to the valley late because the traffic coming in was nuts (there is a 140 km stretch after leaving the motorway just after Lleida, picturesque and windy, mostly no-passing-zones, perfect for a leisurely drive on a sunny afternoon. NOT recommendable when you, your kids, your wife/husband and 6 million other Spaniards are trying to make the most out a 4-day vacation. Sure, they don't all end up coming to the Pyrenees.
However, after two hours on a serpentine road with no possibility to overtake the f$·%/·&%$ truck/french guy/bus/camper van/old couple in front of you, you will feel like they all left at the same time as you did on purpose, maliciously and spitefully conspiring with the Illuminati/the Mafia/Devil Incarnate to drive you crazy even before you have been able to appreciate the serenity and tranquillity of the mountains.
Add to that the grating whine of your once adored offspring (they are yours, you can't just leave them on the side of the road)!, like "Mooooooooom, XY is not letting me sleep/eat/read/breathe/live, tell him/her/it to stoooooooop!" or "Daaaaaaaaad, can we get patatas bravas at the next restaurant?Whyyyyyyyyyy noooooooooooot?"), and you have a mixture at hand that is bound to detonate with an "EVERYBODY, shuuuuuut up or I'll pull over right now and HELP you shut up."
Long story (sorry, I got carried away) short, imagine that same family driving the 6/8/10 km up to the resort after screaming matches with the "little people" who will take care of you when you are old (right!!!!), about topics like: " Why does XY always get the new stuff? I want new boots/pants/skis/gloves/a helmet/a jacket/a snowboard from Helly Hansen/Rossignol/Spyder/Dynastar/Atomic/Scott/Bogner/Goldbergh, too!" OR "I can't find my lift pass/right glove/left ski sock/ ("Don't worry, honey, it cost only 100/200/600 €, you'll be able to pay me back in 5/10/15 years from your paper money/grandma´s Sunday gift/spending money...").
One of my all-time favourites always comes from the smallest member of the family who is wearing a ski overall with a stuck zipper, several layers (Yes, you ARE a good parent, you DID the onion thing everybody is talking about) of highly absorbent high-tech material (now you know what they refer to in the articles you read in "Fall-Line/OnSnow/Powder" earlier this month....). Trust him/her/it to utter a very subdued "I have to GOOOOO....", first at an almost imperceptible decibel level which quickly progresses to a roar somewhere in the vicinity of 190 - 250 decibel. Trust him/her/it to scream at the exact moment when you are as far away from a public/private/semi-private/secluded space/bush/corner/ski locker as possible.

Now comes the best part: if you thought you had mastered the CRUCIAL TIMING EQUATION by pre-purchasing your ticket via the much-lauded BaqueiraPASS App, think again. You will find yourself in the nourishing company of an aggravated mob in front of the scanner staff at Jorge Jordana/the Telecabina/Jesus Serra who inform you that according to their machine, you have failed to "charge" your BaqueiraPASS online. In this instance, it doesn't matter that you literally just coughed up 1050 Eurones by credit card, standing in front of the kind lady in the ticket office who sent you on your way with a "Yasta!". Her smile will haunt you for the rest of your stay, mark my words. This unpleasant situation is easily rectified by charging your already smoking-hot CC again via the App...and having the same amount as before charged to your account. The fact that the transaction is only a "reserve action" does not register with you at the time. Probably due to the fact that your CC company is diligent and informs you that you are now in overdraft and that they will have to repossess your car/cat/house/widescreen TV.
You haven't even made it up the mountain yet!

To be continued once I am able to access the internet again on my to-be-repossessed laptop while sitting in my to-be-vacated flat.
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Quote:

... ... To be continued ...


Looking forward to that
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
@red 27, Got your popcorn? Gooooood, cos I am on a roll! wink
So, where were we? Oh right, you, your (not-so-beloved-anymore) spouse, your cranky children and your messy self have, against all odds and defying fate in the process have made it up to the first line of attack: the telecabina. Packs 8 people, seems reliable, and hey, isn't the little bit of unsolicited intimacy amongst complete strangers a small price to pay for the pleasure, nay, the privilege of being able to cram your delicate feet in two plastic contraptions with some padding and snaps that never seem to close on the first try, hence effectively and completely cutting off the blood circulation in your lower extremities, making your already precarious stance on the two narrow pieces of wood/titan/carbon (ask the tech ski geek, he'll tell you all about it!) which, best-case scenario, are strapped to your plastic-shod lumps of unresponsive flesh, almost impossible to maintain without wrapping yourself around a nearby tree/lift pole/hunky ski instructor.
Why do you ski, you ask?
Here is why:

https://www.facebook.com/StarkCountySkiClub/photos/a.469925229718365/2323058557738347/?type=3&theater
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
GoneSkiing wrote:
For those who know and love Baqueira-Beret for its quiet, serene and at times solitary skiing, the first of three dreaded events during the season has arrived: MEET EL PUENTE!


LOL!

Despite meeting a few Madrileños on the gondola, it seems that most of Spain must have gone to Baquiera this weekend, because Andorra was pretty much empty. We arrived in Soldeu on Thursday morning and had a day staying low out of the way of the snow showers higher up. Friday dawned sunny with crystal clear skies, cold temps, and excellent skiing. All sectors were open and only really the lower-slopes had any major closures (almost all runs below 2000m were closed - the only ones left open were ice-fests by the end of the day and most people wisely were choosing to descend the gondolas). But piste conditions above 2000m though were generally good, occasionally excellent.

Off-piste was also reasonable and I scored plenty of fresh tracks on Friday, at the cost of a couple of minor scratches to the skis. By Sunday it was mostly tracked out and what wasn't was getting a bit crusty due to freeze-thaw night-day temps. Snow coverage in general is pretty thin, probably no more than half a metre even up top.

The weather stayed excellent all weekend; and with reasonable snow forecast tomorrow it looks like a good week is in store; in fact, I wish I was still there because tuesday in particular looks to be excellent. Warmer temps by the end of the week threaten rain though; and what the whole area needs is a really proper big dump to push general levels up by half a metre or more. No sign of that on the forecast though.

All in all though a pretty great start to the season!
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