Skiing in Andorra

22Feb16

I’ve spent the last two winter half term breaks in Andorra skiing with my daughter and some neighbours. It’s been great both times.

Ski areas

Andorra has two ski areas. On my first trip I went to Arinsal, which is part of the Vallnord area. More recently I went to Pas De La Casa, which is part of Grandvalira area.

Arinsal is very much a beginner resort, which was fine for my daughter just starting out, but I was pretty bored of it after a week (and I’d worked my way through most of connected Pal) so although I loved the town, and its restaurants etc. I’m not in any rush to go back (though I never got the bus link over to Arcalis to try that out).

Pas De La Casa is just the opposite. It needs confidence on red runs to get around it (and a willingness to take on blacks to get full advantage of the place). We were able to ski out pretty much all of the Pas and Grau Roig sectors, but the bottleneck of the Cubil lift out of Grau Roig meant that we left a good chunk of Soldeu and El Tarter sectors untouched.

Getting there

Transfers are available from Barcelona and Toulouse airports. I went via Barcelona both times due to better timings and prices for flights. Shared buses can be booked at Arinsal.co.uk and take about four hours each way (though the border crossing back to Spain can cause delays, especially later in the day – my neighbours missed their flight home last year).

Accommodation

I stayed at the Hotel Arinsal on the first trip, which was absolutely made by receptionist and barman Danny (and would likely be a totally different experience without him).

For the Pas trip I went with the Hotel Les Truites, which certainly lived up to it’s #1 billing on TripAdvisor. My neighbours stayed at Hotel Camelot, which seemed OK, and had a decent bar (and happy hour) for getting together apres ski. Dinner at the Camelot wasn’t great though – we only used it once because of a ski injury to one of our group making it hard to go further afield. Some friends stayed at the very fancy Hotel Kandahar, which they loved (not least for its well appointed but surprisingly reasonable bar).

Equipment

Racetiger

For both trips I ordered ski passes and ski/boot/helmet hire from Arinsal.co.uk, and both times around I treated myself to the top of the range ski package. In Arinsal I got Racetiger SC Uvo, which were excellent, but nowhere near as good as the brand new pair of Lacroix Mach Carbon I had last week- easily the most fantastic skis I’ve ever had the pleasure of using

machcarbon

Good value

I found Arinsal surprisingly inexpensive (after spending most of my previous ski trips in Alpine French resorts). Pas seemed a little more expensive, but not so much that it changed any behaviour – it wasn’t pocket breaking to eat out on the slopes every day for lunch and the town restaurants every night for dinner.

Conclusion

Arinsal was ideal for my daughter to learn to ski, but it lacks variety for more experienced skiers. I’d go back to Pas again, though maybe I’d be better off choosing El Tarter or Soldeu for an alternative entry point to the Grandvalira area.



6 Responses to “Skiing in Andorra”

  1. 1 Joe Maissel

    What length ski do you use/favor?

  2. 2 Joe Maissel

    I see you had the race tigers in a 165….is that what you typically use?

    • The Lacroix Mach Carbons were 172cm, and I got on better with them – so arguably I favour that length; though I think it’s less important than it used to be (and more context specific). The last skis that I bought (around ’95) were Salomon Super F9s, which I got at 203cm. They were still a perfect tool for Super-G at the ’99 Royal Navy Ski championships, but I rented some new (at the time) 165cm ‘carvers’ for the slalom (which I recall being very heavy). I last used the Super F9s at a mate’s skiing stag week in ’09, and felt pretty silly being pretty much the only one with ‘skinny skis’ in the lift queues. These days I’ve made the concious choice that it’s better to rent than to pay Easyjet for equipment carriage. My long skis (and the rear entry boots that went with them) probably belong on a sports bar wall these days.

      • 4 Joe Maissel

        Yes, indeed it’s context specific. What caught my attention is the you were on front-side skis when so many skis these days are fat (80+) under foot. Rocker/camber combinations are used to compensate for the width.

        As an East Coast skier, I have front-side (67) and moderately all-mountain (76 or so under foot) skis (Stocki and Okasaka). We so rarely have soft snow in the East that I don’t feel the need to have fat skis. When we do have fresh snow or spring conditions, I’m on my snowboard anyway.

        I find it pretty silly that so many Eastern skiers have sprung for fat skis. They just don’t perform as well as more traditional side cuts (like the one’s you used). I suppose on the handful of powder days we get each year, they’re a lot of fun.

        I’m heading out West in a few weeks, and like you, I’ll be renting. But largely because I’ll need the right skis for the deep stuff. I love my own skis, but my all-mountains are just okay in the pow.

        If you enjoyed the Lacroix’s, check these out. Great deal, and includes the binding. I order from these guys all time.

        http://www.coloradodiscountskis.com/store/product4966.html

        If you ever want to geek out over skis, give me a call or just keep this thread going!

      • 5 Hugh Grant

        Agreed on renting – my once-fancy Salomons have been rusting in the garage for a long time now…. also you get to try the latest gear each year, which is nice

        PS – just googled the lacroix – pricey! did they feel worth over €1000?!

      • The Lacroix Mach Carbon skis were excellent – easily the best skis I’ve ever used. I’m not sure that makes them worth the sticker price of €1150, though I’ve seen them (sadly out of stock) online for £599 with bindings, though that’s still a lot. Given that they cost me about £125 for the week (inc boots, poles and helmet) I was delighted with them :)

        I guess the point here is that if I did buy them for £599, ignored the cost of boot, poles and helmet etc. I’d still need to ski 14 trips on them to break even (given £40 each way for ski carriage), which just isn’t going to happen before they’re hopelessly obsolete (like the last skis that I bought are now).


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