It’s worth remembering that snow conditions in Arinsal-Pal and the rest of the Pyrenees are entirely different from those in the Alps. It’s a shorter ski season, with the best conditions running from December until the end of March.
“Although the resort was busy,” said a reporter, “the lift system was efficient and so there was not too much queuing”. Arinsal’s skiing begins with a gondola ride from the middle of the village up to the mid-mountain station at 1950m. Lifts from here bring you up towards the 2569m Pic Negre and allow for some smooth novice and easy runs back down to 1950m. In good snow conditions the descent through the trees to the valley is hugely enjoyable.
From the top of Arinsal, a cable-car spans the valley to the Coll de La Botella and the start of the Pal ski area. The El Cubil six-pack brings you to some slightly more demanding runs here, but the whole area is best-suited to beginners and low intermediates.
More challenging skiing is to be found in Arcalis
Ordino-Arcalis is of considerably more interest for advanced skiers. Its remote position and limited base facilities deter most foreign tourists except the Spanish from across the border. This is where you will find Andorrans skiing at weekends. A couple of black runs on the front face of the 2552m mountain provide serious challenge, as well as several long reds served by modern quad-chairs.
“The runs are always well groomed and the area has great artificial snowmaking capabilities,” said a reporter, and “the lifts are quick and every year become a bit more modernised”. This is set to improve further, with new lifts, snow-cannon and restaurants, so watch this space.
An impressive freestyler area
Vallnord has a high percentage of riders among its clientele. The impressive 40,000m2 FreeStyle Area at Arinsal is divided into three zones: ISF-FIS regulation-size half-pipe, a terrain park with rails, spins, fun boxes and jumps, and a permanent boarder and ski cross circuit. There is also an exclusive lift and state-of-the-art snow guns, as well as a bar and restaurant specialising in Chinese food, plus a chill-out area. In Arcalis the park is situated on the Abetal slope at 2100m and contains boxes, rails and jumps.