Skiing the trails of royalty

When Peter Hardy, the skiing reporter of Daily Telegraph, having skied in 500 ski resorts in 20 countries, one musta sk how come, why, on what criterium, for whom, to what purpose…
No need to argue, but let’s collect qualities, that proves his claims true or false.

 

Skiing brilliance

even on budget budget

1. Skilift tickets

The one-week lift-ticket is 20-35 % cheaper than in Val d’Isere, probably the most popular ski resort in France. The number of slopes is about the same.

2. Snow certainty

Just before Christamas 36 slopes were open in B-B-B. Peole ski when Val d’Isere is waiting for snow. In Val d’Isere all slopes were closed.
When the resort was closed last spring, the snow depth was four meter at deepest.
The Pyrenees tent to rob the snow meant for the Alps. The heavy clouds, ordered to bring snow to the Alps are not ably ti climb over Pyrenees, but unloas thei load on them. Mid-December three slopes were open in Sestriere, even through it’s among the first resorts to receive the clouds from the Atlantic ocean.

 

Hardly any

Boring slopes

3. The slopes

The scenery is multiform. The slopes begin from five mountain tops between 1500 and 2656 m and they meander and wheel in three different areas.
Most of the slopes certainly pleas the intemediate skier, but there are 16 demanding, so-called black pistes, of them even 6 so-called double-diamonds, not for anyone.
A great way to call it a day is to ski 1000 m vertical drop fro the top of Baqueira byt joining the red slopes Mirador, Stadium and Baqueira (some 4000 m). An easier route from the same top, but joining Cara Nord and Dera Cascada sums 5900 m.
One can ski all the way to the village from all the 35 slopes of Baqueira. One skilift is required from Beret and two from Bonaigua.

 

Even marked off-pistes
and heli-ski

4. Freeski

Vast off-piste areas surround the prepared slopes and are easily reached from the upper ski lift stations. Skiing the winding slope from the top of the Llanca ski lift in Bonagua one can, before every turn, take a 200-meter shortcut though an off-piste and return to the prepared slope.
If you want more challenge, head for the top of Cap de Baqueira. Then take Escornacrabes (Where the Goats Stumble). It’s a so called marked off-piste.
Crossing the edge is rewarded by horror, feelings of succeeding and proud self-congratulatory in after-ski.

 

Ski instruction in English
at the side of the re-union plaza.

5. Ski school
Ski schools are at the top valley of the gondola ski lift. Let’s call it the re-union plaza. Two restaurants, a café, a ski rental and ski service can be found there.
It’s also accessible non-stop from most slopes. That makes it easy for family members of friends with different skiing skills to stay in contact, mo matter where you skied, be it ski school, blue, red, black or off-piste.

 

By bus from Barcelona
or rent-a-car from Toulouse

6. Connections
Tens of tour operators bring skiers to B-B-B, but flight to Toulouse and rent-a-car is good choice. It gives you a chance to visit many interesting places in Aran Valley.
180 km from Toulouse airport is not a long transfer. It’s exciting to follow the trail that the partisans used when bringing Jews to safety during the German occupation in France.
The buss trip from Barcelona airport took four hours. In March the first half our trip went on was decorated with floral splendour of spring. Our mid-way café rose from an orchard of apples. The latter half went around a canyon full of previous snow on the way to satisfy need of drinking water of the seaside.

 

In bunk bed in 6-p room
or alone under five stars

7. Accommodation
Baqueira is full of architecture of the fifties like most of the western Alps, but hotels have been renovated to meet the demands of today’s tourists.
All the hotels stand close to the gondola ski lift or the Tuf-Tuf street train.
In lower village a new centre has been raised in more American style. It includes 4 and 5 star hotels, restaurants and congress spaces.
Right beneath Baqueira is a small village of granite houses of decent size. Even the royal family has it’s chalet there. The elegant village is more than just suitable to the mountain scenery.

Four kilometres south of Baqueira there’s the Saldro village. In a small hotel or restaurant you find original mountain atmosphere. The free ski bus takes you to Baqueira and back. My choice on my next visit.
 

Right timing

is the key word

8. Nourishment
18 slope restaurants or cafes. 37 restaurants in the Baqueira village. In Vielha, 14 km from Baqueira one has more choices concerning dining and accommodation.
For some 9 € one gets a three-piece dinner and a bottle of wine costs 5 €.
The Spanish like the Italian hit the slopes after 10 AM and start their lunch at 2-5 PM. So in the morning and afternoon there’s much space for skiing.
For dinner they go after 9 PM, so it’s wise to enter a restaurant round 8 PM.
Before that you have nothing else to bite but your nails.

 

By buss Tuf-Tuf

you get anywhere

9. In-site traffic.

From Vielha a communal bus carries skiers to a huge parking area, where the Tuf-Tuf street train takes them to the gondola. Same thing if you come by your own car. They say there are even taxis in the village. I even hitchhiked once.

 

Felipe Juan Pablo Alfonso de Todos 

los Santos de Borbón y Grecia

10. Slope company

On the slopes you may meet Felipe VI, who, as young used be quite a racer.
Patrick had seen the king a day before I landed. The king didn’t wear a crown. Neither did he have any royal decorations on his helmet. He did have too rather large skiing buddies close by giving furtive looks around the untitled.
I take it the Catalans don’t much care about him. He’s just another foreign royal.
William, the Prince of Wales would be a totally different case.

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Baqueira-Beret

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