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PYRENEES 2017-18

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Pyremaniac wrote:

As for escaping the crowds, this is my valley on the other side of the Port de la Bonaigua (affectionately known as Africa, due to being on the other side of a weather frontier that runs across the pass, meaning that it hardly ever snows on this side and all the precipitation instead falls in Baqueira... it's no accident that they put a ski resort there wink. Well this year it's already snowed heavily in the villages at least four times!):



Is this the side that they keep on talking about when they want to expand the domain?
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Was in Baqueria Thursday - Sunday. Was surprisingly empty on Saturday as everyone had left after the Reyes holidays. Snow was Ok, off piste mostly destroyed by the rain as others have pointed out...

One thing I wasn't aware of, there is a "debutant" ski pass which only covers the Beret zone, it's about 30% cheaper, for anyone learning it's a great option as Beret is nice and quiet, the learning areas in Baqueria were packed.

Leaving the valley yesterday and there was only a bit of rain, then as we exited the Vielha tunnel we were met by a massive blizzard, I think we got out of there just in time..

Are they intending to run the motorway all the way from Lleida to Vielha? There is a new motorway which stops suddenly at the N-230 and has some blacked out signs for Velha on it...
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Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
I'm just dropping in from the Sierra Nevada thread as Baqueira is also on my "possible skiing in Spain in March" list! Booking 4-6 weeks in advance is a bit of a gamble snow wise, but perhaps there is more of a base in Baqueira than SN despite the recent rain? Generally the accommodation options look more pleasing too in comparison to SN;)
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@Dubmuffin With booking.com you can usually cancel a week before for free. Same with the Baqueria resort website
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@mrvinegar, There are flights, time off work and several other people on the trip to be organised - oh how I dream of just being able to drop everything and go where there's snow:) (one dayI hope.... snowHead )
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Quote:

I'm still refusing to do the Orri de Tredós lite (which is still bashed, and even marked I think) until such time as there is enough snow and low enough risk to do the real one first.


I was in Baqueira for the first time for the latter half of the Reyes week (I live in Barcelona so usually go Andorra and Neiges Catalanes resorts). I was very interested to read your comment about the "real" Orri de Tredós - not knowing aboou either, when I rode the 'new' one at the weekend I wasn't aware that it had 'replaced' the old.

I'm not quite sure that new one is a green-level piste as you joked, but it certainly isn't double-diamond black as the signs indicate! There is one steepish section at the start and then it levels out into a fairly easy red-ish level run. It isn't much of a challenge and I dare say it's nothing like the 'real' Orri de Tredós, but in its defence it is a really lovely piste which winds its way through the quiet forest with hardly any people. Being on my own and with much of the off-piste not in great condition, it was actually a nice place to escape the crowds, and I went back up several times. You should try it!

(Incidently, the crowds those days were wierd - on the 3rd and 4th the resort was rammed, and the slushy snow and millions of people turned even the blues into mogul fields. But on the 5th and 6th, everybody obviously went home to open their presents, as the place was relatively empty!)
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What a difference a couple of days, a bit more altitude and 20cm of fresh snow make.
Pretty good days skiing in Grand Tourmalet yesterday.

Had hope to arrive just after the forecasted meter of snow, but with the weather clearing the afternoon before and only 20cm fresh tracks had to be looked for.

Best snow is definitely on the higher slopes in La Mongie.
Off pistes the chutes off the Col du Tourmalet heading into the Barèges area had filled in nicely.
But care need as coverage is still thin in places.

The new snow had freshened up the pistes everywhere, which were in excellent condition across the whole ski area.
Again snow forecast all week.
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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!
With the weather closing in and the avalanche risk significant at altitude we stayed low and in the trees for the first tour of the season.
We skinned up to the abandoned funicular station above Barèges, Grand Tourmalet.

Turns of the season so far in the trees on the way down with 20cm of fresh on top of a pretty good base.
Got a bit sloppy on the way back to the car, but an excellent day out.



Bit more snow over the weekend and then it looks like sun next week.
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Fabulous conditions in the Pyrenees this last week, with a powder day on Monday and variable weather but cold temperatures and untransformed snow for the rest of the week. Best of all, the avalanche risk has been low all week in the central and eastern parts, and there's been a nice layer of powder which has remained in great condition for days on end.

Is there anywhere which doesn't have great conditions right now?! Masella had half a metre of fresh snow on that powder day, whilst La Molina and the other public resorts in the eastern Spanish Pyrenees are pretty much 100% open with great conditions; in Andorra, Grandvalira is also 100% open, and great conditions in VallNord too; in the western Spanish Pyrenees, Panticosa has depths of more than 2 metres up top; in the central French Pyrenees it's also pretty much all open, with more than 1.5 metres in places; and in the western French Pyrenees, N'PY had their best numbers for a decade over the Christmas and New Year period.

Thanks to the precipitation yoyo-ing back and forth over all orientations, we're in the fantastic and unusual position of having great conditions on both the north and south sides of the axis. To top it off, the avalanche bulletin for the Val d'Aran has been very positive about getting out and enjoying it, although with warnings about sporadic activity of course. That said, sadly a 34-year-old Frenchman was killed in an avalanche near to Piau Engaly last week, and although mountain rescue said that although the flag was at 3 out of 5 they didn't regard the area that the skiers were in as being especially risky at that time, and it seems that it was a terribly unfortunate situation.

Some small snowfall predicted for today, after a couple of centimetres falling overnight. But then we'll have a week of higher temperatures without precipitation, albeit not necessarily with much sun.


Last edited by You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net. on Sun 14-01-18 10:08; edited 3 times in total
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Ski Guide wrote:
Pyremaniac wrote:

[...]my valley on the other side of the Port de la Bonaigua (affectionately known as Africa, due to being on the other side of a weather frontier that runs across the pass, meaning that it hardly ever snows on this side and all the precipitation instead falls in Baqueira

Is this the side that they keep on talking about when they want to expand the domain?


Kind of; they wanted to expand into the valley that's behind the high ridge that's on your left-hand side as you drive down from Cap del Port towards Peülla and the villages of the Val d'Àneu. You can reach that valley on foot from the Val d'Àneu via the abandoned village of Àrreu (in fact it's one of the places where I was snowshoeing to the other day) but it's quite a trek. In other words, although the target spot is geographically part of my valley, it's much closer to the existing ski resort than where all the villages are. (The old Lo Boscas itinerary briefly skirts the inside of it.) Indeed, it sits pretty much exactly on the weather frontier... which is what has led to Baqueira finally shelving that expansion plan, since after years of study they have concluded that the snow conditions simply aren't reliable enough. It's hard to believe it looking at it this year, but I can imagine that it would suffer in some years.

mrvinegar wrote:
Are they intending to run the motorway all the way from Lleida to Vielha? There is a new motorway which stops suddenly at the N-230 and has some blacked out signs for Velha on it...

That was the original idea, yes; and presumably they'll need it if Catalonia gains independence at some point, since the N-230 jumps in and out of Aragon all the way up! It's yet another example of Spanish political corruption, this time within Catalonia: the local mayor managed to get the middle of the motorway built before either of the two ends (presumably having friends in the construction industry), and then the money ran out. So, there were several km of motorway built, to which there are access and exit roads from the traditional non-motorway route; but it takes longer to get onto the motorway, use it, and leave it, than it does to just keep on the traditional route. As a result, the motorway was pretty much empty... at one point they had to close the accesses because the kids were using it for drag racing! They have now managed to connect it to the Lleida ring-road, so it serves a purpose as an access to the airport I guess; though it's still quicker to use the N-230 if coming from the Barcelona side.

AlunAlun wrote:
I was in Baqueira for the first time for the latter half of the Reyes week (I live in Barcelona so usually go Andorra and Neiges Catalanes resorts). I was very interested to read your comment about the "real" Orri de Tredós - not knowing aboou either, when I rode the 'new' one at the weekend I wasn't aware that it had 'replaced' the old.

I'm not quite sure that new one is a green-level piste as you joked, but it certainly isn't double-diamond black as the signs indicate! There is one steepish section at the start and then it levels out into a fairly easy red-ish level run. It isn't much of a challenge and I dare say it's nothing like the 'real' Orri de Tredós, but in its defence it is a really lovely piste which winds its way through the quiet forest with hardly any people. Being on my own and with much of the off-piste not in great condition, it was actually a nice place to escape the crowds, and I went back up several times. You should try it!

Yeah without doubt it'll be a fantastic piste Happy That's kind of why I'm grumbling about it; it's too valuable a reward for too little effort... I spent a long time learning the ropes at Baqueira, being forever motived to improve to become good enough to ski that hillside - and now they just give its beauty away for free! Toofy Grin Toofy Grin Toofy Grin. Mainly though, I object to expanding further onto that mountainside... it was very pretty virgin territory, and well-loved by ski tourers who are probably a bit irritated by it suddenly becoming part of the ski resort. It looks like it's here to stay, though; I guess they'll put it on the piste map next year.

I did however get to do the "real" piste a couple of times last week; I'm pretty sure it follows the same route as the exit route we took a few years ago when we toured up to Baciver before they put the Saumet lift in. Fantastic piste! Baqueira have certainly added a couple of gems to the resort thanks to that lift.

mortonia, looks great!
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Quote:

So, there were several km of motorway built, to which there are access and exit roads from the traditional non-motorway route; but it takes longer to get onto the motorway, use it, and leave it, than it does to just keep on the traditional route.


Ha that's ridiculous!

Any reports on how the off piste is in Grandvalira at the moment? Hoping to go next 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.
Some big snow coming http://www.snow-forecast.com/resorts/Pas-de-la-Casa/6day/mid
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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
That motorway story probably also explains the weird 15km of fast road built out of Lleida to Balaguer on the way to Andorra. Oh great, I thought, they're speeding up the frustrating last leg to Andorra. Er, no they're not.
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
Orange200 wrote:
That motorway story probably also explains the weird 15km of fast road built out of Lleida to Balaguer on the way to Andorra. Oh great, I thought, they're speeding up the frustrating last leg to Andorra. Er, no they're not.


What benefit would it have to the Spanish (or more precisely in this case Catalunyan) economy to have a fast road all the way to Andorra? I can see no motivation for that. Maybe up to La Seu d'Urgell, but even then...
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Some more sad news to report from over the weekend, this time from the Catalan Pyrenees [ https://www.nevasport.com/noticias/art/54585/Fallece-un-esquiador-en-Masella-y-otro-en-Baqueira-Beret/ ]:

A 34-year-old Basque man was killed when attempting to descend the notorious Vinyeta line down the most exposed skiable part of the "North Face" area of Baqueira, a run which has claimed a number of lives and will no doubt continue to do so. The details of the accident are not clear, but it seems like it was a fall... alas much of the north face is no-fall zone. Photo with map: https://www.nevasport.com/phorum/read.php?77,675296,2786942#msg-2786942

A 68-year-old Spaniard was also killed in Masella, hitting a tree after accidentally coming off of a blue run in the central part of the resort (The rather flat Volta Maria piste).

RIP.

And in Port Ainé, a 29-year-old was seriously injured after hitting a snow cannon whilst coming down a red piste.


Last edited by Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name: on Thu 18-01-18 20:10; edited 1 time in total
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
What do you find the most reliable for wether forecasting in the Pyrenees?

Looking at these 2 and they tell different stories, the first predicts a whiteout Saturday & Sunday with crazy wind, the second predicts some snow with only 30 km p/h winds

https://meteoexploration.com/forecasts/Grandvalira/

https://www.theweatheroutlook.com/twodata/arpege.aspx?run=na&charthour=25&chartname=eurprecipsnow&chartregion=eur&charttag=Snow

There is also meteo.cat but they only do the next 2 days, http://meteo.cat/prediccio/pirineu
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Differences in forecast can have 2 causes:
(1) Different meteo model input. Most weather sites use raw GFS data because it is free. But some sites use different models.
(2) Timing differences. Even if 2 sites both use GFS, timing of the "data refresh" can be different.

The model used for data input is by far the most important factor in determination of forecast reliability.

Weatheroutlook uses Arpege (as you can read in the URL) model, which is specific for France and gives better results (for France that is) than GFS.
No idea what model meteoexploration is using. If they use GFS (that would explain the difference) then I would expect it to be less reliable than weatheroutlook.

I would say weatheroutlook is better for Pyrenees.


Last edited by Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person on Thu 18-01-18 15:24; edited 2 times in total
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from meteoexploration: "Forecasts from day one to five are based on the WRF model, from day six to eight they are based on the GFS model."
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Just back from 2 days in Baqueira.
Weds a bit limited due to all the high lifts being closed due to the wind.
Made up for it with a very good lunch in the Cinco Jotas at 1800.

Thursday all open. Skiing with the OH meant we were blasting around on piste.
Snow conditions excellent everywhere and the best I've seen for ages down to 1500.
Off piste looked well skied with groups touring further field to get some fresh tracks.

Had a look at the Orri de Tredòs “lite". Groomed and marked. Looks like it’s here to stay.
Still opens up a lovely little valley, but not sure it justifies the black rating.
Also improvements to the lift system with lift passes now being scanned from a distance rather than having to physically scan a barcode.
With the resort being quiet I couldn’t tell, but I imagine it will speed up the process during busy periods.

Warmer temperatures over the weekend looks like rain rather than snow, which is never a good thing.
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Was in Grandvalira today, the rain at the weekend decimated much of the snow, they have done a good job of getting fake snow on most of the busy pistes, but some of the quieter runs were pretty barren. It also was really busy!
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This is news I really didn't want to hear. We've booked a week at the end of Feb so I hope something drastic happens before then. Not looking like there's much snow in the forecast for next week either😥
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Dubmuffin, Laughing if you're predicting no snowfalls between now and the end of February (in this most turbulent of seasons) then I think I'll just pack up the apartment and go back to the coast!

In fact the precipitation due for Thursday may well turn out to be snowfall down to decently low altitude. And nothing in the medium-term models indicate a late arrival of the evil blocking high that we normally endure between Christmas and more or less this current date. So absolutely nothing to be nervous about at the moment. Quite the reverse: I'm still hoping this will turn out to be a legendary season of the likes of 2012-13 snowHead. No complaints so far (except that it would be nice to see the sun occassionally!). Obviously nobody likes rain.. but it's done wonders to consolidate the base, making for more powder days at avvy level-1 and level-2 than I remember for quite some time; the week before last was brilliant.

Baqueira has lost about 25cm of depth, but given that it was already at 125 (bottom) and 185 (top), what's left is still more than respectable for the time of year.
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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!
@Pyremaniac, Thank you for the reassurance! I have been lucky to have had two trips to the French Alps this season, so have experienced my first resort level snow and powder days, albeit with no vis, high wind days too, so I now have high expectations!
I also have memories of Christmas 2015 in Austria, skiing on strips of man made snow on brown mountains so keen to avoid that again:)
It just feels like this weather pattern is stuck at the moment with all the fronts being deflected away from Andorra. I hope you can keep me updated with your on the spot weather reports snowHead
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Dubmuffin, will do Happy. (No skill of my own though; I just regurgitate the weather forecasts with just a sprinkling of local knowledge about the resorts' typical behaviour under certain conditions!)

Earlier it sounded like you were torn between an SN trip and a Baqueira trip; have you opted for Andorra instead now? Of course, the correct plan is to do a week in each Toofy Grin.
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@Pyremaniac, We had to tie it in with friends coming from Mallorca who had restricted dates and flight choices so El Tarter it is. Baqueira was my preferred choice but I guess Grandvalira has more milage for a week long trip. There's always next season, I've been greedy this year!
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@Pyremaniac, @Dubmuffin, Hey guys, I'm watching this too as we should arrive Soldeu on the 11th Feb, so just 2 and a half weeks now. Generally try (and fail) to ignore forecasts etc, but it does look as though there is a combination of precipitation and plummeting temps for the end of this week, which will hopefully have a good result!

And for those of us travelling, well, the holidays booked, we're going, and we get whatever conditions we get. It'll be snow heaven, bare as a desert, or most likely, somewhere in between. It just changes how many hours will be clocked up in bars and spas...
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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.
Warm and sunny in Grand Tourmalet yesterday.



Rain effected snow meant rock hard pistes in the morning through to soft in the afternoon.
Busiest day we’ve had so far this season with school kids out on their afternoon PE session.
Not bitter at all that all I got was a muddy cross-country or rugby pitch on my Weds afternoons at school.

Snow coverage is holding up well with pretty much the whole area open.
Best skiing at altitude with spring snow conditions off piste at the end of the day which was enjoyable.



Snow is forecast over the next day or 2 with a sunny period following.
I’m sneaking off to the Alps for a week to check out the really busy pistes and expensive beers !
Oh and apparently there’s a bit of snow over there.
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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
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After a really awful week according to the Soldeu/ET webcams - 10C plus and hillsides getting browner - it looks like they just got hit last night, yay! Smile
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
Similar conditions to what mortonia describes in Baqueira too... Up until last night snowHead

So now we can replace slipping around on shiny concrete with some proper skiing Razz

35cm of fresh snow fell at Baqueira, and I would imagine that most other places also got good coverage. The weather is still horrible on the hill right now, but the weekend should be great: tomorrow still cold albeit overcast, and Sunday and the following few days should be sunny albeit with another bout of high temperatures. To be honest, I'll be happy to see the sun!

Avvy risk 3 in Baqueira; the bulletin reckons this new snow will happily slide off of said shiny concrete at all orientations on steepish slopes.
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
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Holy moley, some big news from the central Pyrenees (aside from the fact that it's snowing down to 1000m in my valley right now Happy):

The Town Hall of Naut Aran (the parish in which Baqueira sits) yesterday approved a new drag lift from near the top of Saumet up to the top of Bavicer Shocked. So bang goes that virgin valley of Orri de Tredòs! I knew that the mysterious appearance of Orri de Tredòs Lite smelled suspicious.

According to http://arannau.es/aprobado-proyecto-nuevo-telesilla-orri/ the idea was already given the nod by the Val d'Aran's department of urban development back in November. The drag will go up the south-east face of Baciver (which seems the most natural place to put it) and arrive at at least 2600m; the peak is at 2680m. Which will give Baqueira one of the largest controlled descents in the Iberian peninsular, at at least 1100m. (Cerler has 1150m, and I think Pic du Midi must also have a decent vertical; and outside of the Pyrenees, Sierra Nevada has some 1200m.)

An excellent map with somebody's suggestion of the route (which seems realistic to me) can be found here: https://www.nevasport.com/phorum/read.php?77,3614573,3875076#msg-3875076

Obviously this will add some absolutely cracking skiing to the resort, and open up literally the entire valley; we're talking about a huge skiable area, as the ski tourers already know. I don't know how I feel about it really... more than anything I think it's a shame to industrialize such a beautiful place (there are other resort expansions which I personally think are more suitable). On the other hand, there's no denying that it is very well frequented by ski tourers already, so it's not as if it's uncharted territory. I think that if I were a regular tourer there I would be considerably more irritated. More than the lift itself, what bothers me are the inevitable earthworks; they absolutely smashed up Saumet (for example there was already a beautiful natural halfpipe where the Saumet red goes, and they ripped it apart to widen the piste) and I don't want them to do the same to the wooded part that stretches from the line of the real Orri de Tredòs all the way across to the mountains at the head of the valley. I wish they would just leave this kind of area alone, for "controlled free skiing" or whatever, similar to what they have done in Arcalís.

As others have commented on the forum that I just linked to, to me the more obvious place to put a lift is from the col of the Collet de Marimanha piste that connects Dossau to Beret, up to Tuc de Beret. When coming up the long beginners' lift from Pla de Beret, the main thing that I'm thinking (apart from trying to recover the will to live after such an extraordinarily slow ascent wink) is, why the hell does it stop here, instead of carrying right on up to the top, above the Lacs deth Clòt der Os itinerary?! Back to the col: from there it's a lovely (off-piste) traverse and descent already; and when at the end of the traverse, looking up in the direction of the peak, it's such an obvious, wide and relatively gentle couloir to want to ski down - and it's double the length of the dreg end that's accessible from the traverse. The mountain is not agressive and it's already a simple hike from the col up to the peak... a drag lift would fit fine there. I guess it might suffer horribly from the wind at times though, which is probably why they haven't done it.

Anyway, if and when it arrives, no doubt I'll occasionally peruse the area served by this new Baciver lift wink. If you thought the Saumet lift opened up some interesting new stuff, you ain't seen nothing yet! Given that the valley is going to now be a de facto part of the resort, the only thing that's missing is a lift near to the current Tuc de la Llança drags, going up to one of the cols that connect with that valley; the maps show that there would be a short double-black entrance followed by a lovely run down to connect with the existing Escornacrabes or Lac deth Baciver itineraries. Of course, if they put such a lift in the right place (up to the Montanyó d'Àrreu peak) then it would also serve as the first part of a connection to the (rejected) Val d'Àneu expansion that we were discussing at the top of this page, giving 360 degrees of options from that summit. It's too steep for a draglift though, at least on the Llança side.
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Just back from two days in Soldeu, Andorra. Thursday was possibly the worst I'd ever seen the mountain in January, extremely icy and brown patches everywhere. Then, as reported, a good foot of snow fell overnight and all day through Friday. Fresh tracks to be found everywhere - although with no pistes bashed it was an effort getting around. Today should be pretty amazing though being a Saturday I suspect it will be very very busy....!
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
I'm going up tomorrow, can't wait..

Is there many on here who live in Barcelona like myself? If so it might he handy to organise a trip up sometime
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
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between 30cm and 50cm of fresh snow eeeeeveryywhere in Baqueira! Terrible - often non-existent - visibility everywhere except at the lowest part of Pla de Beret, the bottom half of Peülla and from 1800 down to 1500 in Baqueira, but still some laughs to be had, and I got to discover that Baqueira has some more interesting tree skiing in those bottom 300m than I had given it credit for! Tomorrow they're still giving sun across most of the Pyrenees, except for some stubborn cloud that could affect Baqueira and Andorra... in any case it should be an epic day. Baqueira had the avvy flag at 4 today, although the valley's independent bulletin service as well as that of the Catalan Cartographic and Geographic Institute (ICGC) were both giving 3. That said, both are urging extreme caution, saying that this new layer is not binding at all well, and will be even worse tomorrow with the sun. It'll be an exercise in keeping the powder fever under control.


Last edited by Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see? on Sat 27-01-18 20:05; edited 2 times in total
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mrvinegar, me... but I'm based in resort this season. I'd very happy to hook up with anyone here who ends up in Baqueira though - and an unofficial sH Pyrenean bash would also be a fun idea (at any location).
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
@Pyremaniac, there will be a few snowHeads staying in the Tuc Hotel from tomorrow, on a course with Inside Out Skiing aka rob@rar and skimottaret. Come and say hello in the bar at some point? Very Happy
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@Hurtle, enjoy, very envious !
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
@nickH, thank you! Very Happy
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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!
Oh, that's cool! I will send you a PM
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You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net.
Last time I arrived in Baqueria it was at the end of a snowstorm which dumped 150cm, followed by a week of almost unbroken sunshine. Wonder if I should be disappointed with 'only' 50cm this time, with sun forecast from Monday onwards?

Happy
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 Ski the Net with snowHeads
Ski the Net with snowHeads
Will miss skiing with you @nickH !

Thanks for the updates @Pyremaniac, been reading the thread in the lead up to tomorrow's trip. All packed and ready to go! snowHead
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