Published: March 27th 2012March 9th 2012
Well, we lugged some of our ski gear all the way from Toronto to London and on to France in the hopes of getting some time on the snow. Although we weren't able to get to the alps this year for a proper ski trip, we decided to squeeze it into our trip around France, and head to Andorra. And today we finally got a chance to use this equipment!
Andorra is a much cheaper alternative to the alps. We rented equipment from the shop in our hotel. They had a 20% off discount (since its low season now) and they threw in the helmets for free. Unfortunately, they didn't have the best skis for Elysia... All they had was the silver level skis, and she wanted gold. But the price was so cheap that we figured it couldn't have been that big of a deal. So in total for skis, boots, poles and helmets, we paid €32 for both of us. The lift passes were €44 for one (which is still much cheaper than you get in Canada) but we also bought one off someone selling the last day of their week ticket (for € 25). So overall it
Looking up at the ski run at Pas de La Casa
You can see from here, the runs are not all that hard. This was probably the easiest part of the mountain though.
cost us just about €100 for both of us for a day of skiing, which is super cheap!
The town we stayed in is called Pas de La Casa, one of the base area villages part of Andorra's Grand Valira resort. The resort is huge!! There are 6 base area villages (Pas de La Casa, Grau Roig, Soldeu, El Tartar, Canillo, Endcamp) in the resort at different elevations and at the bottom of different mountains. You basically ski from mountain to mountain, village to village. It takes a long time: there are over 200km of terrain. The vertical drop of the runs isn't very long, but because there are so many runs, it makes for a substantial area to explore. Overall, the runs are generally what we would call a blue square (maybe a few blacks). There isn't anything incredibly challenging, but I suspect that this would change in mid winter. Right now it's spring, so there isn't as much coverage over the rocks, so essentially youre stuck on the laid out runs, and can't really hit the harder rock filled areas. This was okay with us, as we were struggling a bit with foreign-boot syndrome. Towards the end
of the day, Elysia had to take her boots off every few runs, and mike just bared the pain. I guess that's what happens when you get used to your own equipment, and can't afford to bring them with you. We weren't entirely happy with the skis either, but the snow was good and it really didn't take away from any of our fun.
It was a beautiful day in the mountains, the sun was shining and it would have felt really warm (-3 + sun) if it hadn't been for a really harsh wind at the top. We decided that our time was best spent skiing from village to village. We had to be aware of the time though, because the lifts started closing at 4 and you didn't want to be at the wrong side of the mountain when they closed. The closest ones closed at 5, but we didn't make it that long. When we were close to quitting, we stopped at the top for a hot chocolate, and admired the beauty of the mountains around us. After skiing we walked around the village a bit, then we grabbed some food and made a wonderful fondue
Compared to yesterday, this was a great day! We only had one thing break on us today (bad luck comes in 3s right??) When Mike sat down on a chairlift he had forgotten to pick up one of his poles (a rookie mistake!) and it bent in a pretty good "C" shape. In fear that he'd broken yet another thing, he attempted to hide the evidence and bend it back. Unfortunately, the cheap aluminum used in the rental poles would have no part of that, and it snapped. At this point, it was still attached by a small piece, so he figured he would continue skiing and not use the pole, that way he could return the whole pole at the end of the day. About 10 seconds into our first run with it, the bottom half of his pole magically disappeared (hopefully it didn't hit anyone), and he eventually threw the top knob away. Now to explain to the rental guy and have to pay to get it replaced....... Fortunately, the guy didn't care and we got off scot free! Phew!
I highly recommend skiing in Andorra to anyone who wants a lower key (cheaper and
slightly easier) ski vacation. People here seem to ski more slowly, but maybe they're just having a look at the beautiful scenery!
There are more photos below