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Spain’s ski season kicks off in style

Spanish resorts and those in nearby Andorra are offering lots of exciting innovations on and off-piste

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If the weather conditions hold, this ski season promises to be a long one. Autumn snowfalls have meant that resorts are opening early, with Masella in Girona in the northeastern region of Catalonia getting a head start as usual; this year its lifts powered into action on November 13. But despite all the signs of abundant snow this year, almost all of Spain and Andorra’s resorts have taken the precaution of boosting their artificial snow capacity, with some now able to cover 70% of slopes whatever the weather brings.

And while their actual size will not increase, different services and runs are being added to make the most of the season. Due for inauguration are runs specific to snowboarding, off-piste skiing, freestyle and cross-country as well as paths for snow rackets. Ski passes can easily be bought online, saving time and money. And for après-skiers, there will be no shortage of music bars at the foot of the slopes and a range of alternative activities for those wanting to ring the changes.

Sierra Nevada

The Granada resort is undergoing a transformation although it will be next season before it can be enjoyed. An eight-seat chairlift is being installed that will service the entire Borreguiles beginners area along with two extra button tows for the Monte Bajo and Virgen de las Nieves runs. This season, however, competent skiers will be able to carve up the 12 kilometers on the K12 from El Veleta to Pradollano, which weaves in out and out of existing runs. There is also a new cross-country trail in Loma de Dílar while a radar has been installed on the Águila slope to measure speed. From January, 12 massive screens will keep clients updated on points of interest such as the queue lengths at the various lifts. A makeover of the Andalucía square and the station’s base is also underway and the Borreguiles shopping center has been given a facelift.
Look out too for the Snowboard cross World Cup which will be in town on March 6 and 7.
Slopes: 110 kilometers. Altitude: 2,100-3,300 meters. Ski pass per day: adults: €52/ children: €34. Information: Tel. 958 70 80 90.

The Aragonese Pyrenees and the Iberian System

Formigal-Panticosa ski resort
These two combined resorts in the Tena Valley in Huesca in northeastern Spain will boast the fastest slope in the country this season, going from the top of the Tres Hombres peak at 2,220 meters with a drop of 300 meters. This run will be used for the Flying Kilometer World Cup between March 13 and 15, with contestants reaching speeds of above 200 kilometers an hour. The possibility of ordinary skiers trying it out is being looked into.
Meanwhile, the resort has improved the efficiency of its artificial snow coverage and the layout of the Espelunciecha and Corona runs. For those worried about access, the Sextas parking lot has been expanded at the main entrance and access via Anayet and Sarrios has been upgraded too. Speed skiers wishing to time their descents can now do so on the Panticosa slalom slope, which will celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2020. As well as being one of the biggest ski resorts in the country, it is surrounded by beautiful scenery with views of the French Midi d’Ossau peak and numerous other mountains that tower over 3,000 meters. The view is particularly spectacular from La Glera restaurant, which has been expanded this year.
Slopes: 180 kilometers. Altitude: 1,145-2,250 meters. Ski pass per day: adults: €48/ children: €38.50. Ski pass for Panticosa only: adults: €43,50/ children: €35. Information: Tel. 974 49 00 00.

Cerler
The long-awaited expansion of this resort in the Benasque Valley, located in the heart of the Pyrenees, started with the improvement of access and services in the Castanesa Valley, an area to be incorporated into the resort with the first lift to open next winter on the Basibé side. This season, the Ampriu and Les Planes runs, which take skiers to the resort’s base, have been upgraded, and a webcam at the end of the Gallinero ski lift will provide skiers with streamed weather conditions on the slopes.
Slopes: 77 kilometers. Altitude: 1,500-2,630 meters. Ski pass per day: adults: €45.50/ children: €36.50. Information: Tel. 974 55 10 12

Catalan Pyrenees

Baqueira Beret
Benefiting from its location on the north side of the Pyrenees, facing the Atlantic, Baqueira is almost always blessed with snow. Its fast lifts and well-maintained slopes together with the Vall de Arán’s stunning scenery and charming villages has made it Spain’s premier resort. This season it will officially inaugurate the Eth Coret run, suitable for competent skiers and connecting the Bacivèr zone with Orri, cutting through a pine forest with beautiful views of the resort’s north face. There are also upgrades on the Peülla, Pleta del Duc, Cap de Baqueira and Debutants runs while an additional 50 snow cannons have made it possible to cover half the runs with artificial snow. The circular redesign of the 2200 café affords better views of the Ruda mountains panning round to the Aneto, the highest mountain in the Pyrenees and the third-highest in Spain.
And there’s additional change – the Baqueira Pass can be topped up online at a reduced price.
Slopes: 167 kilometers. Altitude: 1,500-2,610 meters. Ski pass per day: adults: €54.50/ children: €36. Information: Tel. 973 63 90 00.

Andorra

Grandvalira
This season, the biggest resort in the south of Europe has joined forces with the resort of Ordino Arcalís, under the Grandvalira Resorts brand. The Grandvalira ski pass, both day and season, can be used in both – though only if they are bought in Grandvalira, not in Ordino Arcalís.The main upgrade here is a new access point at El Peretol with the Pla de les Pedres chairlift extended to connect the new base with the Funicamp cable car. Additionally, a number of new runs have been opened including a long blue run called Solanelles XL. Meanwhile, the platform over the River Valira that was built last year in Soldeu will be offering additional services and the resorts artificial snow capacity has been hiked, allowing for 66% of the slopes to be covered. For those enjoying the snow with small children, snowboard classes are now available for kids as young as three.
Slopes: 210 kilometers. Altitude: 1,710—2,640 meters. Ski pass per day: adults: €52/ children: €35.50. Information: Tel. +376 805 200.

Source: El Pais, December 2019

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