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freeriding, resorts, gear

Grandvalira Andorra

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Altitude: 1300-2560
Backcountry: good
Difficulty: intermediate
Apres Ski: average
Best powder period: Januari - March
Pow: ***
Flying in: Barcelona

When you are traveling to Grandvalira you can fly into Barcelona and rent a car there. Be in for a nice ride. The Pyrenees really have their own climate and character compared to Barcelona and the rest of the world. With nice quiet villages on the road you will see some contrast with busy Barcelona where it is full of traffic and people and can also be a lot warmer with 13 degrees in winter compared to -8 at your destination. That difference in climate also poses an extra challenge when you are planning your trip. In Barcelona people aren´t really equipped for snow or cold temperatures, so you won´t be able to find a car with winter tires. Of course at your car rental you can rent snow chains. But that will put you back about 25 euros a day. It is much more friendly for your wallet to buy them on route at a gas station, when you expect you will need them, or to buy them at your destination when you will need them on the way back.

The trip from Barcelona to Pas de La Casa will take about two and a half hours. The connection is very good. The longest part of your route follow the E-9 until you reach France. From there you continue on the N-20 until you reach Porte Puymorens where you will already see signs leading up to Pas de La Casa in Andorra. Do take on account that during the high season this road will be very busy. But when you stay away from the holiday period this road will do just fine to reach your destination fast.
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Pas de la Casa

The village Pas de la Casa is one of the bigger villages in Grandvalira. It is located at the left side of the skimap. The village is modern and if you like shopping you will like Pas de la Casa. Here you will be able to find a lot of ski shops, places to buy electronic equipment and even jewelry and fashionable clothing. So next to the great opportunities Grandvalira offers for snowboarding and skiing, it is also great that you are able to find your new GoPro there for a lot less money here then outside of Andorra.

The village also has its fair share of Hotels and Restaurants, making it a comfortable place to stay if you a looking for a base from which to explore Grandvalira.
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The ski and snowboard area

Grandvalira is the biggest ski-area in Andorra. With a total of 118 slopes that stretch out over 210km there are enough opportunities to keep yourself busy for a few days. The lifts and connections are good. You have the typical chair lifts, mostly offering room for 4 – 6 people. What we did notice is that, when it snows, these lifts can be a bit cold because they don´t have a cover under which you can shelter from the wind or snow. So if you get cold easily, make sure you dress warm on snowy days.

With a lot of blue and red slopes the ski area is well manageable for beginners as well as intermediates and there are enough snowcanons to keep everything in perfect shape. The groomers are very well maintained. For intermediates – experts there are also quite a few black slopes.

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Freeride areas

If you have read the avalanche report and have sufficient knowledge and gear, the area also offers a lot of good descents for freeriders. What we noticed is that there are also some freeride information points present where you get information on the avalanche danger level.

You will be able to find unspoiled sections at the Encampadana ski lift and the El Tarter sector. Next to that you can also find a freeride area in the Grau Roig sector. Do be carefull. These areas aren´t secured, so you need to make your own assessment of the snow situation.

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Secured freeride areas

If you don´t have knowledge or gear, you can also practice your off-piste skills in secured areas that are kept unspoiled. You will find these controlled free ride zone at the Encampadana Freeride Area and Pic Blanc in Grau Roig. (Both sponsored by Gore-Tex) Of course be there early on a powder day to have first tracks.

Soldeu

Another village you might want to consider for your stay in Grandvalira is Soldeu. In size it is a bit smaller then Pas de la Casa, but it does provide a more central access to the ski area. If you are only staying in Grandvalira for a few days, then it might be worth booking here because you will have better access to all the corners of the region.

Conclusion

Grandvalira definably is a must visit resort in Andorra. With 210 km of very well maintained slopes, opportunities for freeriding, modern and well facilitated villages and nice people that also know their way with English, you will have no problem in having a good time there. If you visit, try to avoid the high season. If you do that you will have more time to enjoy everything Grandvalira has to offer and will spend less time traveling there.
The village Pas de la Casa is a nice place to stay and stay entertained for a week or more. If you are more into easy access to the entire ski area then consider booking a stay in Soldeu.
If you want to book a trip to Grandvalira, or want more information, check Grandvalira’s website.

Have you been in Grandvalira? Or do you have any tips? Let us know!



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