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freeriding, resorts, gear

The royal destination Baqueira Beret

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Altitude: 1500-2507
Backcountry: good
Difficulty: intermediate-expert
Apres Ski: average
Best powder period: Januari- March
Pow: *****
Flying in: Barcelona / Toulouse

The best food , authentic towns and a strong regional identity. The Val D’Aran is one of those bucket list destinations for powder enthusiasts. Located on the south side of the Pyrenees and surrounded by some high mountains, this place receives a lot of snow when storms come in from the south west. Travelling here from the end of December - March will guarantee you finding a white snow covered valley.
We visited the royal destination of Baqueira for our stay. And this is definably one of those places to see and experience.

Snow
Next to it’s fair share of natural snow Baqueira also has a lot of snow canons to assist mother nature. In Spain the influence of the sun is a little stronger then for instance in the Alps, so these snow canons are a welcome addition. The slopes begin at 1.500 meters. Which is high enough to always descent into the village and grab a beer at the Baqueira Bar. But don´t think that you are dependent on these canons. Natural snow falls here plenty.

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Freeriding
Around Baqueira you will find the highest mountains of the Pyrenees. Because of this the skiing & snowboarding has a high Alpine character. This is excellent for freeriding. In the ski-area you are able to find many option, when the conditions are safe, close to the lifts. And with just a little hike you will be able to find more powdery descents.
If you have all the required gear, and snowsafety knowledge, you can head out by yourself. If you want to get out there with a guide you can for instance check availability of the mountain guide Nacho Morales, famous for guiding powder magazine at their report of this erea, or ask for a mountain guide at the tourist office.

Where to stay?
When you go to the Val D’Aran to go skiing in Baqueira-Beret you have a many options to stay. The main lifts into the region depart from the village Baqueira. But when you have a car you can also access the slopes from different parking lots close to lift stations. When you can do that you can stay in other villages as well like Tredòs, Salardu or Vielha. From these places you can access the ski area with a free ski bus. If you are looking for accommodations check https://reserva.baqueira.es/booking/

Tranquilo, tranquilo
Baqueira and the Val D’Aran will let you experience more then just awesome conditions for wintersports. The pace here is very relaxed. As if they forbid the stress and rush of your daily life to to come with you when you enter the valley. People take time to eat in the afternoon and to enjoy the scenery and mountains. When you head into the chair lifts people will try and make conversation. And no language barrier will stop them from doing so.

Baqueira tries to profile itself as a high end resort. And they manage quite well, since you will see a lot of expensive cars out there and will be able to find nice hotels with a spa and all comforts you need. One of those hotels which has a nice local character and is close to the slopes is Hotel Val de Ruda. When you come back from your day in the snow they will welcome you back with hot wine, chocolate or tea and you can afterwards relax you muscles in the spa. You can find that hotel here.

Even though Baqueira is focussed on attracting people who are interested in a more then average resort, that doesn’t mean that you won’t find any affordable accommodations. For instance, you can eat in the ski area in a castle, but right next to the slopes you will also find snack bars where you can get a burger and be on your way.
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This makes that you will find a mix of people on the slopes: some who like to do one descent and drink Champaign in the Moët bar, and others who are out in the area all day taking as many runs as they can get.

In the evening we’d advice to check your hotel for some tips where to wine & dine. In the towns, that you can find in the valley, there are a few hidden restaurants that serve the best food you have ever tasted. One of our recommendations would be to stroll into some of the narrow quiet streets of the towns and find a restaurant you like. On our visit we went to the town Unha and walked into the restaurant Eth Cerèr. When you walk past this restaurant you will almost not notice it. But inside you can refill your energy level with the best tapas and wine money can buy.

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The ski area
With 120 km of slopes Baqueira is of a reasonable size. Not to big, but not small either. In the ski area you will find a big amount of blue and red descents. This makes that the area can also be accessible for beginners and intermediates. But when you have a bit more experience, you won’t get bored either. Baqueira-Beret has quite a few black slopes and ski-routes to make sure the better skiers or boarder find enough of a challenge. The skiroutes particularly provide more then enough difficult descents that are only accessable for the very experienced skiërs or snowboarders. This makes this region far more challenging then for instance many places you will find in Austria. The ski routes are also definably the first places you need to head out to after a fresh dump.
Next to the skiroutes Baqueira-Beret has amazing possibilities for freeriding. You will see tourskiërs in the area and within a short hike you can find many more opportunities to find some pow.
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The ski school
If you are heading to Baqueira with your kids then you can have them follow skiing classes in the resort. Through the website of the tourist office you can prebook the lessons so that you children can practice to become better then you are soon and will so that you will have the opportunity to head out there yourself and meet up with your children during the lunch break. Next to the ski school there are also a few children’s parks in the area. You can find information on classes here.

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Traveling to Baqueira
You can go to Baqueira by plain. Nearest airports are that of Barcelona and Toulouse. The drive from Barcelona will take you about three hours. Next to driving you can also take busses that drive straight from the airport to Baqueira. If you are heading here just for a weekend or storm chasing? Then it is best to rent a car at the airport. Because that will take you there the fastest.

Conclusion
Baqueira-Beret is a unique place to enjoy your wintersports holiday. Wether you are novice skier or boarder or only want to do freeriding, here you can do it all. If you are looking for a party destination where you will do more singing and dancing then actual work on the slopes? Then this is not your destination. If you are looking for a true characteristic mountain resort, with a lot of snow, sun, good food and challenging descents than Baquera-Beret should be on your bucket list.

If you want to visit Baqueira or any of the other villages in the Val D’Aran? Check their website here.


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