Grandvalira is a large linked ski area with seven different resorts: Soldeu, El Tarter, Encamp, Canillo, Grau Roig and Pas de la Casa. The biggest and best-known are Soldeu and Pas de la Casa and together they promote themselves as a world-class destination for serious skiers. It’s worth remembering that snow conditions in Soldeu El Tarter 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.
A growing ski area
The linked Grandvalira ski area is perfect for intermediates who will enjoy the long, wide runs. The ski area is reached from Soldeu by an eight-person gondola or six-man chair-lift up to Espiolets, and by a similar choice of lifts from El Tarter. A gentle ski through the nursery slopes takes you on to the Escola chair-lift. From the mid-mountain station of Espiolets, lifts fan out in both directions towards Pas de la Casa and further down the valley to Canillo, where a gondola leads back into the area.
The undulating terrain above and below the tree-line is best suited to beginners as well as skiers and snowboarders who don’t want too much of a challenge. However, the substantial size of the ski area should keep more advanced skiers fully occupied.
Fun skiing through the trees
Off-piste opportunities through the trees are particularly good, and new snow does not get tracked out within hours. Recent lift improvements include the £3.8 million 10-person gondola, which takes skiers up the mountain from El Tarter. The 2011-12 ski season saw the first World Cup race in Andorra: the Ladies Alpine Skiing World Cup on the Piste Avet in Grandvalira Soldeu.
Good facilities for freestylers
The Grandvalira is the only ski area in Andorra to have three snowparks: Isards Park in Pas de la Casa has a beginners area and a permanent boardercross course, Snowpark Tarter is for all standards from beginner to professional, and Snowpark Xavi at Grau-Roig is the most popular with its rails and boxes. A specialist operation, Pro-Tec Coliflor Freestyle Academy, runs freestyle camps in the El Tarter park.