Skiing in Andorra (again)

23Feb19

The group that I’ve been skiing with for the past few years wasn’t coming together this year due to some health issues and other commitments, so my daughter and I chose to return to Pas de la Casa, which we last visited three years ago (on the proviso that we could return to Hotel Les Truites, which fortunately still had space).

Getting there and back

I planned flights around the Andbus transfers arranged via Pasdelacasa.com. Unfortunately fog at Gatwick significantly delayed our departure, but thankfully the Andorra Resorts team were very responsive and rebooked us onto a later bus (though this turned out to be news to the driver, and we just made it onto the last two available seats on a packed bus). The trip back was also made fraught by protests for Catalan independence (though luckily I’d allowed stacks of time, which I’d planned on spending in the T2 lounge at Barcelona Airport – though sadly it’s been closed for months for ‘improvement works‘).

The length of time spent on transfers (which essentially becomes a whole day getting there, and another getting back) are probably the main thing that would put me off returning to Andorra.

The skiing

Without such a large group getting around the Grandvalira area was pretty easy, and we spent a lot more time over in El Tarter and Soldeu, though the ‘funnel lift’ as we came to call ‘Cubil’ remained a significant and annoying bottleneck between one side of the area and the other. They really need something with more capacity at that point in the network.

With half term holidaymakers from the UK and France the entire area was busy, and though we found a handful of quiet lifts, all the primary routes were pretty choked up. I also can’t remember being on a trip where lifts stopped quite so frequently for bozos who can’t sit down and stand up again without falling over or some other buffoonery.

All 5 days that we skied were beautifully sunny, so there was no fresh snow. The piste was good throughout at the start of each day, though things got a little piled up and soggy by the end of the day. Our last day saw some of the runs we wanted to do closed.

Equipment

Having had a decent experience with Skiset last year in Austria I used them again this time and got a voucher for Surf Evasio 1. My plan to pick up gear on our day of arrival was thwarted by the delays, but when we pitched up on Saturday morning the place was busy but not too busy, and they did have stuff ready for us[1].

For boots they used a 3D scanning machine for fit, and the boots I got (Nordica brand) were the most comfortable I’ve ever had.

The ‘excellence’ skis they gave me were Head Supershape i.Magnum, and I didn’t get along with them. The bases were pretty scratched up, so they didn’t glide; and everything felt like hard work. So I took the shop up on their offer to swap, and when asked what I wanted different the answer was simply ‘faster’. They gave me some Nordica Dobermann SLC skis that were absolutely brilliant. Their target user profile of ‘groomed, expert, short turn, high speed’ suited me perfectly. I’d say it’s a close call between these and the Lecroix Mach Carbons I had on my last trip to Pas for best skis I’ve ever had.

My daughter was very happy with the Roxy Dreamcatcher 78s that she got (which were definitely faster than the Heads I wore on day one, but a little slower than the Nordicas I switched to).

Eats

Restaurant La Familia had been great last time, so we took the easy option (as it’s just downstairs from the hotel) and dined there again on our second and final nights. It’s now rated #1 restaurant in Pas, which I think is well deserved. On arrival we grabbed take away pizza from Oh Burger Lounge, which was good enough for us to return a couple of days later for the dining in experience.

A chance stop at the Hotel Nordic restaurant in El Tarter led to us returning there for three days in a row. The tapas portions are huge, tasty, and surprisingly inexpensive for a place that seems so posh. Having seen the salmon and avocado salad I had to go back to try it; and my daughter insisted on returning again the following day (it helped that she loved the run down Aliga). The hotel also has great WiFi.

Conclusion

A bit like returning to your old school, Pas (and Grandvalira) felt smaller, though there was still plenty of fun to be had. I left last time feeling like there was more to explore, whilst I left this time feeling like I’d exhausted the place. If I go back to Andorra I’d like to try Arcalis, though it doesn’t look like there’s enough there for a whole week.

Note

[1] For some weird reason they’d prepared a snowboard for me rather than skiis, but as soon as the mistake was recognised they sorted things out, and the service was very friendly. I was less impressed that they somehow managed to give my daughter different sized boots (which we realised when one of them wouldn’t fit the bindings), but that mistake was also sorted quickly and efficiently.



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