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Pyrenees snow report 2019-20

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Poster: A snowHead
Piau Engaly was pretty 'hard pack' today.
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Encamp link between Grau Roig and Soldeu closed due to high winds right now Sad
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Some pretty good skiing in Grandvalira over Christmas.

A reasonable fall of snow before we arrived meant the pistes had been freshened up nicely and there was some off piste to be had in the Free Ride Areas.
A lot quieter than I was expecting, but the traffic we passed coming up as we left yesterday suggested it was going to be a busy weekend.

The forecast looks like sun through until the new year.
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Grandvalira today was.... well, not bad.

Snow coverage is reasonable, and pretty much the entire 200ish km is open, the exceptions being the blacks lower down such as Avet and Gaig. The sun is shining brightly and I was skiing today in just a base layer and shell, the thermometer was well above zero all day, even up top. Piste conditions weren't bad though, if a little soft in general, and there are a few icy patches. Off-piste is all-tracked out and crusty.

The freeze-thaw temps are set to last until the middle of the week; and then a colder patch is coming in, so snow conditions will not be improving any time soon (although there is a potential dusting forecast for wednesday evening).

But the sun is shining brightly and there is enough room for the holiday crowds to disperse around the resort, so in general everyone's happy!
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mortonia wrote:
, but the traffic we passed coming up as we left yesterday suggested it was going to be a busy weekend.


@mortonia, road traffic from Pas de la Casa down to Encamp was crawling bumper to bumper all the way down on Saturday evening for several hours. Shocked

On Sat&Sun there were half hour queues throughout Granvalira (for all area-linking lifts). The pistes were just a fun exercise in avoiding each other. Yesterday at 4pm, the Pla de les Pedres lift closed prematurely (overheated under the strain perhaps?), leaving about 200 skiers to trudge 500m via a snowshoe track to rejoin the next piste.

Otherwise, yup, firm pistes, with a covering of scuffed up corduroy (and drifts of loose cannon snow) meant the going was good, especially given good sunny visibility for all of the last six days I was there.
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Was in Ax 3 Domaines today, the pistes that are open are OK, especially up top, and not too many people.
Bonascre is looking extremely brown though, and the 'debutantes' beginners area is just a field with grass!
In general it needs snow, nothing in the forecast for the next week though..
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Busy in Baqueira yesterday, but to be expected in the holiday period.

Snow was crunchy everywhere.

Looking at the forecast I think it's almost time to start doing the snow dance. Sad


Last edited by Then you can post your own questions or snow reports... on Sat 4-01-20 11:30; edited 1 time in total
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Rode Porté-Puymorens yesterday morning, most pistes open. Snow not too bad. Any day on snow is a good one!
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How busy week 8 is at Pyrenees? Anything like some reports say about christmas/newyear season?
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Snow forecast for this Friday...fingers crossed
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Just back from a week in Barèges skiing the grand Tourmalet. They are out making snow every night but are in desperate need of a big dump.

How is it across the rest of the Pyrenees?
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And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
Still no new snow over in the west at Artouste but snow forecast this week and on the basis that our pisteurs have just brought five boxes of explosives up on the télécabine this morning I’m hopeful for a decent snowfall!!!!
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El Tarter webcam shows brown grass under the trees, that's not a good sign Sad
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Orange200 wrote:
El Tarter webcam shows brown grass under the trees, that's not a good sign Sad

Currently skiing in the Grandvalira. On piste conditions are good. There's fewer than 10 pistes not open. They've done an amazing job considering they've had no snow since before Xmas.




Top of Soldeu gondola
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Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
12 weeks to go. I'm crossing every single piece of my anatomy. Please, please, please snow
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12 weeks?! You'll have cramp by the time you get out there if you're crossing everything already!
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Fingers crossed for next week we arrive on Saturday.
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denfinella wrote:
12 weeks?! You'll have cramp by the time you get out there if you're crossing everything already!


I'm persistent. And I have a high pain threshold Very Happy

A man can tolerate a lot when he's desperate to hit the slopes for the only time in the year
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That looks the same as the same week last year, when I was in Soldeu. I'm out again to Soldeu on Sunday. Pinning my hopes on the snow forecast for Friday - if it comes !
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Looks like about 10cm fell overnight
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mrvinegar wrote:
Looks like about 10cm fell overnight

Not sure where it's gone now if it did Confused

Conditions on piste still fine though. Occasional scrapy icy bits.
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Lesser spotted snowflakes returned to the Pyrenees last night and this morning !

I was touring in Ax today so was a bit more about the up than down. Still light fluffing made the run down not too bad at all.

It was still snowing (just) at 1400 when I left. Turned to rain very quickly when driving down.

We still need a really big dump to get things really started.
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Beautiful day here today - blue sky for most of the day, and the snow is in fine condition.

Bumped into some snowheads at the top of the Soldeu gondola this morning, just as they were setting off on their instructor led skiing.
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Forecasts showing an enormous dump for next tuesday/wednesday, fingers crossed it'll happen!
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mrvinegar wrote:
Forecasts showing an enormous dump for next tuesday/wednesday, fingers crossed it'll happen!


Seen that... over 100cm in Pal-Arinsal, going on for 140cm in Pas. Can imagine there will be some much bigger numbers elsewhere in the Pyrenees judging by the forecast

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mrvinegar wrote:
Forecasts showing an enormous dump for next tuesday/wednesday, fingers crossed it'll happen!


But take into account if it happens, ski will be very limited for most of week. In the "worst" places, like Capcir, forecast are predicting >300mm in 36 hours. This is completely out of scale, never seen something like this in my whole life.

So you could expect major problems, roads closed, maximum avalanche danger, floods......etc etc. So all of you out there, take it easy please...
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And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
Going to El Tarter tomorrow (19 Jan) for a week....Preparing myself for a whiteout and disruption especially on Tue/Wed.....It might mean very limited runs open on those days....
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Monday morning - according to webcams, Soldeu has got something, not a lot but something. I guess all contributions gratefully received!
Let's see if it intensifies as predicted.
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Orange200 wrote:
Monday morning - according to webcams, Soldeu has got something, not a lot but something. I guess all contributions gratefully received!
Let's see if it intensifies as predicted.


Sure, yesterday has passed the NW front, some new cm yesterday on the W and NW normal affectation area.
Today rolled and is just starting to snow in the eastern part of the Pyrenees (a part from southern part of Catalunya were is snowing til bottom, 200-300m snow limit level).
In Andorra webcams only some light snow observed in E part (Pas de la Casa).

Tomorrow and Wednesday are the D days, but I think that tomorrow in the afternoon we will see exactly the penetration capacity of this storm, depending on that Andorra will take more or less (Andorra to the E and S is sure that the dump will be massive, IMO also in Andorra will be massive, but we will see)
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Arriving in Soldeu on Sunday for the first time since 2003.
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Just seen a fb post from a mate in Baqueira, looks like a great powder day!
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Definitely looking promising for the annual Font Romeu/Les Angles/Espace c'Ambre d'Aze week in Feb half term- particularly as my youngest will have just turned 5 and it will be his first time on skis! Only slight worry is towards the end of the 3 days of snow it seems to warm up quite a bit and is showing quite lot of rain for the lower slopes, hopefully not washing all the snow away, but >2000m seems pretty good.
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Soooo.... funny old season so far, this one! Not sure how to classify it.

November was very promising; it was an extraordinarily wet autumn and early winter in the Iberian peninsula. This brought a decent amount of early snow, and got our hopes up for an epic winter. Ski tourers were having a blast during this period. The early December Spanish long bank holiday weekend was hugely successful for the areas which could get a decent amount of km going.

But then disaster struck. The most intense high-temperature rainfull that I can remember in years hit the Pyrenees and the rest of Spain, and undid all of the early good work. Endless precipitation, but so warm. At lower altitudes, the mountains became bare; at higher altitudes, the pistes turned into marble. Only the ski tourers managed to find the good stuff, relying on the mid-day transformation of the snow on southern slopes. On piste, there was skiing to be had, but really nothing to write home about. Some nice skies though, such as this over Canillo:



Despite this, surprisingly, the Christmas period was reasonably decent. All the ski areas were working round the clock to get the pistes up to scratch, and by all accounts they did an excellent job. By the time the Three Kings holiday period rolled around (Twelfth Night, to Brits), most of the range was in surprisingly good form. There were some losers, such as Superbagnères which didn't manage to open; but in terms of skier numbers the majority of places - including Grandvalira, Arcalís, Boí Taüll and all of the FGC resorts including La Molina - were well up on last year. Masella was full to bursting, Baqueira had practically everything open and proved once again to be the pearl of the Pyrenees, and even Sierra Nevada way down south was doing just fine. Artouse was reaping in the benefits of its giveaway ticket price, and the Neiges Catalanes (the collection of areas in the eastern French Pyrenees) reported a big uptick in Spanish skiers.

Talking of which, I visited Formiguères for the first time, during that period. What a lovely little resort! Difficult pistes, an interesting morphology, and some quite lovely alpine views over the back valley, contrasted with the characteristic expansive views of this part of the eastern Pyrenees.









The pistes of Cambre d'Aze in the far background, and those of Les Angles in the middle distance:



The next day was spent hiking in the Carol valley, with views towards Porté Puymorens in one direction:





and Pic du Carlit in the other:



That period marked the start of the Greater Pyrenean Anticyclone, that inevitable bout of high pressure over the Pyrenees from Christmas onwards which produces wall-to-wall sunshine for weeks on end. This season was very different to the last; which was very different to the one before. But the January anticyclone is reliable enough to bet the silverware on. It usually breaks in the second half of January - and this year will be no different.

The breakout started gently enough last week, with a few cm of new snow, most evident in Baqueira. A treat as always.







At long last, I got to play in the "new" Baciver lift-served area - which lived up to expectations.



On the way back I paid a very worthwhile visit to the natural wonder which inspired Antoni Gaudí's design for the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona:





in the beautiful, stark and dinosaur-laden "county" of Pallars Jussà:



Which brings us to this week... and what a way to shake things up! What looked like might develop into a full-on Snowmageddon event has tapered down to become "merely" a season-defining snowfall in the Eastern Pyrenees, with up to 2 metres due to fall in the easternmost resort of the range: little Vallter2000, with its 14km of ski pistes in an unexpectedly alpine setting. We're looking at 1.5m up over on the north side of the axis in Cambre d'Aze and the defunct Puigmal, and 1m in Masella, Font-Romeu, Les Angles and the small areas of the Capcir. Barely 50cm in Andorra and Port del Comte unfortunately; and a mere a dusting further west.

So it's all about the base, in the central and eastern areas this week. Baqueira already has plenty of snow on the ground, and even a 20cm top-up will be a lot of fun. Andorra is looking decent enough; Grandvalira is pretty much all open already and it's hard to fault the conditions there, even if the off-piste is currently dull - which will change by Friday. Port del Comte will be delighted to get something at last to cover the grass, but I wonder whether it'll be enough given that they're really running on empty right now. Will half a metre save their season? I hope so. Either way, the very easternmost resorts will be in their element, regardless of how their season has been so far. Epic might well be the word.

So, where to go on Thursday and Friday? My money's on the eastern French Pyrenees (given that I doubt Vallter will have the wherewithal to deal with the heavy snowfall before the weekend). If I had to choose - and I do! - then I'd choose Cambre d'Aze and Les Angles. Let's see whether any minor adjustments to that plan are needed over the next day or so.
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@Pyremaniac, Great read. Looking forward to the follow up.
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It’s amazing how consistent the pattern has been over the last few years of initial early season promise, then some melting/sun over Xmas and early Jan while the resorts do their best to preserve it and the then the late January dump, looking back at my WhatsApp messages to a skiing friend the late January snowfall has been within about 3 days of the exact same date for a good few years in a row! Certainly helpful to spread the crowds around a bit in Feb half term as unfortunately can no longer go out in term time with the family!
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Pyrenees suffering bad, due to global warming.

Almost all the glaciers have gone.

Even at 1900m, today, the ground is heavily snowfree in the peak of winter.

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Whitegold wrote:
Pyrenees suffering bad, due to global warming.


Shocked What a statement.... Oh Come on!..... Also you will say that the 1 or 2 meters of new snow expected in the eastern part until tomorrow evening is due to climate change Puzzled Puzzled
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Glaciers have melted -80% in a century.

Average annual snowfall is trending down -20% since the 1980s.

Snowfree at height in the peak of winter.

The evidence is clear.
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Formigueres looking promising already

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I am in Sitges on a work trip and Gloria has been raging for 12 hours. I imagine the eastern Pyrenees will get buried in snow.
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