1. There's more to this forum than meets the eye!

    We have a vibrant community here conversing about all sorts of non-snow topics such as music, sport, politics and technology. Simply register to reveal all our Après topics or continue browsing and reading as a guest.

    NOTE: This notice may be closed.

    Dismiss Notice

Question French Pyrenees

Discussion in 'Europe' started by skifree, Sep 13, 2019.

  1. skifree

    skifree A disciple of the blessed avi giraffe Moderator Ski Pass: Gold

    Joined:
    Jul 13, 1998
    Messages:
    26,350
    Likes Received:
    20,610
    Location:
    Middle Oz
    I'm sort of thinking, dreaming of a French Pyrenees ski trip, ski, eat, drink, sleep repeat for no particular reason than it's not here.

    A very vague stab in the dark is to base in Ax-les-Thermes and visit the resorts out of there.

    Or do I just pick one and spend a week there, or should I be thinking of somewhere else in the French Pyrenees?

    No don't bother telling me about places outside the Pyrenees, that will be separate threads if when I get to it.
     
    Rimey, Annabuzzy, person s and 6 others like this.
  2. Tanuki

    Tanuki A Local Ski Pass: Gold

    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2010
    Messages:
    9,982
    Likes Received:
    6,136
    Following with interest. My wife wants to spend her 40th birthday around there.
     
  3. climberman

    climberman CloudRide1000 Legend Ski Pass: Gold

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2000
    Messages:
    40,503
    Likes Received:
    29,823
    Location:
    the sunny illawarra
  4. BoofHead

    BoofHead One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2007
    Messages:
    2,632
    Likes Received:
    3,453
    Location:
    Brisbane
    We plan on heading there in Jan. France and Spain. At this stage we’ll lease a car in France and play it by ear from there. Ax Les Thermes is on the list as I had intended to drop in to Telemark Pyrenees to sort out some new boots.
     
    skifree likes this.
  5. Zimbooo

    Zimbooo One of Us

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2017
    Messages:
    2,841
    Likes Received:
    3,191
    We drove East from Biarritz to Lourdes. Checked out Lourdes, stayed a night.
    From Lourdes up to Bareges which is a beautiful spa town.
    Bareges is at the western end of the Grand Tourmalet which was pretty big and great for a week.
    Accommodation was very reasonable as well.
     
    skifree and BoofHead like this.
  6. geeoff

    geeoff Hard Yards

    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2013
    Messages:
    145
    Likes Received:
    81
    Location:
    Cronulla, NSW
    Not in French Pyrenees but we enjoyed Baquiera Beret just across the border in Spain (Catalan Pyrénées) this January. Plenty of snow, terrain and tapas. If you have a car suggest you stay in one of the little villages below, like Vielha.
     
    LaNeige, Zeroz, piolet and 3 others like this.
  7. BoofHead

    BoofHead One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2007
    Messages:
    2,632
    Likes Received:
    3,453
    Location:
    Brisbane
    Baquiera Beret is on my list as well. Apparently there is a run there, the name of which, translates to Valley of broken goat skulls. I have to tick that one off.
     
    skifree, cold wombat and geeoff like this.
  8. BoofHead

    BoofHead One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2007
    Messages:
    2,632
    Likes Received:
    3,453
    Location:
    Brisbane
    Regarding a car, we will be leasing a vehicle in France as we are staying for a couple of months.
    Would you reccomend a 4x4? Are chains needed?
     
  9. person s

    person s Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2001
    Messages:
    35,512
    Likes Received:
    16,029
    Location:
    macdonaldtown
    do you mean one of the French manufacturers’ leasing schemes?
    I suppose Renault has 4x4s, not Citroën or Peugeot
    as to whether necessary, I recall seeing lots of non-4wd vehicles in various Euro winter settings
     
    BoofHead likes this.
  10. person s

    person s Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2001
    Messages:
    35,512
    Likes Received:
    16,029
    Location:
    macdonaldtown
    isn’t most of the snow on the Spanish side, or in Andorra?
     
  11. offshore

    offshore Hard Yards

    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2018
    Messages:
    129
    Likes Received:
    24
    I haven't visited the Pyrenees in winter, but a mate skiied Cauterets and reported it was good.
     
  12. BoofHead

    BoofHead One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2007
    Messages:
    2,632
    Likes Received:
    3,453
    Location:
    Brisbane
    Yep. Looking at leasing a Renault.
     
  13. skifree

    skifree A disciple of the blessed avi giraffe Moderator Ski Pass: Gold

    Joined:
    Jul 13, 1998
    Messages:
    26,350
    Likes Received:
    20,610
    Location:
    Middle Oz
    Dunno.
     
  14. Sbooker

    Sbooker One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2015
    Messages:
    1,279
    Likes Received:
    1,264
    Refreshing honesty.
    It’s traditional on forums to crap on sounding like you know something even if you don’t.:)
     
    LaNeige, cold wombat and piolet like this.
  15. skifree

    skifree A disciple of the blessed avi giraffe Moderator Ski Pass: Gold

    Joined:
    Jul 13, 1998
    Messages:
    26,350
    Likes Received:
    20,610
    Location:
    Middle Oz
    Someone will catch me out.
     
  16. piolet

    piolet Better make it three Ski Pass: Gold

    Joined:
    May 27, 2004
    Messages:
    32,879
    Likes Received:
    35,818
    Location:
    in the cupboard covered in dust
    I'm watching and ready
     
    skifree likes this.
  17. piolet

    piolet Better make it three Ski Pass: Gold

    Joined:
    May 27, 2004
    Messages:
    32,879
    Likes Received:
    35,818
    Location:
    in the cupboard covered in dust
    Also take pics, such a beautiful spot, gorgeous villages. I've only been out of season and it was a while back...
     
  18. Hyst

    Hyst Enjoyer Ski Pass: Gold

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2014
    Messages:
    2,064
    Likes Received:
    1,488
    Location:
    Copenhagen
    Might ask about the snow on Snowheads, as quite some Brits go there.

    I have no idea about that area.:whistle: ;) (are there mountains?) LOL
     
  19. person s

    person s Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2001
    Messages:
    35,512
    Likes Received:
    16,029
    Location:
    macdonaldtown
    just fabulous, both French and Spanish sides
    I drove through there in autumn 2010, lots of great winding mountain roads with incredible vistas around every corner
     
    #19 person s, Sep 15, 2019
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2019
    BoofHead, piolet and skifree like this.
  20. BoofHead

    BoofHead One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2007
    Messages:
    2,632
    Likes Received:
    3,453
    Location:
    Brisbane
    @skifree, when are thinking of hitting that area?
    We are looking at arriving mid Jan and adopting a TTM aproach for a couple months in Spain/France/Italy.
     
  21. skifree

    skifree A disciple of the blessed avi giraffe Moderator Ski Pass: Gold

    Joined:
    Jul 13, 1998
    Messages:
    26,350
    Likes Received:
    20,610
    Location:
    Middle Oz
    2021
     
  22. BoofHead

    BoofHead One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2007
    Messages:
    2,632
    Likes Received:
    3,453
    Location:
    Brisbane
    Doubtful that I’ll be around that long
     
    skifree likes this.
  23. Signal du Bassia

    Signal du Bassia Early Days

    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2020
    Messages:
    15
    Likes Received:
    61
    @skifree i’ve grown up and learnt to ski around there. I’m obviously not impartial but what the Pyrenees lack in altitude compare to the Alps, There is a remote Feel and a very authentic French/Spanish atmosphere.
    The valleys run north/south and they are very narrow at the bottom. Hence no big cities like you could find in the Alps and you have to go around (unless the cols are open) to go from one to the others.
    In the French side, you can divided the chain in 3 area: Basque Country and Béarn, Hautes Pyrénées/ central area, and Catalan area (from west to East). Each has it own gastronomy, traditions, language and landscape. The higher and most reliable snow is in the hautes Pyrénées but the weather pattern can dictate otherwise (weather from the Mediterranean bring snow to station in Catalonia and Atlantic entry to the Basque Country. The French side is a LOT greener than the Spanish side (I love the Spanish side for rock climbing bluebird day in winter, the snow is still as good on both side).
    There is so many stations! I love la Mongie/Bareges for the size and options available. If you go there you should take the funiculaire to the pic de midi de bigorre for a world class backcountry experience with no skinning. Actually there is a lot of backcountry/slack to go on.
    From the valley of la mongie, you have the valley d’Aure to the west with 3 resort(saint lary, piau engaly and Peyragudes) to explore. You could base yourself in Arreau or saint lary. Piau and saint lary been my pick. This valley produce the De Le Rue brothers so it must have some steep stuff
    On the west, you have Cauteret and the valley of Lourdes. Very scenic, good skiing. Go check out the cirque de Gavarnie. It’s majesty in winter (not for the single crappy lift).
    I can go on if you want but it is hard to condense 20 years in a post.
    In the next valley, Bagneres de Luchon is a great thermal town and ski resort. Check out the natural thermes (natural caves act as sauna).
    The stations in Andorra are epic (huge and great skiing). Andorra is a bit more expensive than France but you get duty free shopping.
    Baqueira is my pick in Spain as well as envalidas.
    I haven’t even started on the basque and Catalan resort. Happy to keep going if you are interested.
    On a good snow year, the Pyrénées are awesome!!

    Ps: my profil picture is the pic du midi in the background
     
  24. cold wombat

    cold wombat Twitter Contributer Moderator Ski Pass: Gold

    Joined:
    Jun 4, 2008
    Messages:
    52,138
    Likes Received:
    23,857
    Location:
    Perth
    I can promise you, there is plenty of interest!

    Welcome to the forums!
     
    art, kaegee, piolet and 3 others like this.
  25. Undies

    Undies Pizza! Ski Pass: Gold

    Joined:
    May 15, 2002
    Messages:
    20,599
    Likes Received:
    13,728
    Location:
    Top drawer
    Welcome indeed!

    And feel free to post some photos. They sound like beautiful areas.
     
    skifree and Chaeron like this.
  26. skifree

    skifree A disciple of the blessed avi giraffe Moderator Ski Pass: Gold

    Joined:
    Jul 13, 1998
    Messages:
    26,350
    Likes Received:
    20,610
    Location:
    Middle Oz
    Absolutely keep going.

    We'd love to have a regular update from this area.
     
  27. Rimey

    Rimey One of Us

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2010
    Messages:
    1,646
    Likes Received:
    1,042
    Location:
    The modest end of the Great Divide
    Fozzie Bear, cold wombat and Chaeron like this.
  28. BoofHead

    BoofHead One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2007
    Messages:
    2,632
    Likes Received:
    3,453
    Location:
    Brisbane
    I would love to get back to Ax Les Thermes again later in the season.
     
    Chaeron likes this.
  29. Signal du Bassia

    Signal du Bassia Early Days

    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2020
    Messages:
    15
    Likes Received:
    61
    Ok here come some more. Apologies for the grammar and some of the randomness.
     
    Chaeron and piolet like this.
  30. Signal du Bassia

    Signal du Bassia Early Days

    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2020
    Messages:
    15
    Likes Received:
    61
    Thanks everyone. I am passionate about the pyrenes because it’s where my love of the outdoors was born. Disclaimer, I have call Australia home now for over 15 years and Canberra for 5 years. You will have to excuse me if I embellish a bit as nostalgia can make everything appears better than it is. But honestly, I think the area is world class on a good snow year and still an awesome ski holiday on average year because of the scenery, culture and of course food!

    So, from West to East:

    Basque Country and Bearn

    Steep green rolling hills straight from the Atlantic, a very strong cultural identity, the area is something quite different from the rest of France. So many small roads to get lost on and the valleys are very narrow (often gorges). If you have the time go to a trinquet/mur a gauche see people play pelote basque, the local ball game. It is worst the experience and you can often have a local meal in the bar/restaurant attached to the place. Have some Ossau Iraty cheese.

    The first station from the coast, La Pierre Saint Martin is a family-oriented station more geared thorough beginner and intermediary. The slack country is very inviting and often untracked but be careful the area is full of holes. Think snow covered crevasses.

    Next is the station of Gourette and Artouste. You can link the two on an awesome backcountry tour. Highly highly recommended.

    My pick of the area would be Gourette. The resort has a good mix of steep and mellow run. Awesome backcountry around the lacs d’anglas. East facing at the top and will slides so be careful. Avalanches are a real concern here!

    Side note. I spent most of my time in the side/backcountry. So, you will get from me a lot of lift assisted backcountry.

    Artouse is a lot smaller and snow at the bottom is always a bit of an issue. But it is such a beautiful spot. I haven’t spent a lot of time there but my sister lives close by and recon it’s a bit of a hidden gem when the condition are right.
     
    Chaeron, Hyst, climberman and 4 others like this.
  31. Signal du Bassia

    Signal du Bassia Early Days

    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2020
    Messages:
    15
    Likes Received:
    61
    Hautes Pyrenees

    The “central” part of the mountain massif. Because my family farm is between the valley d’aure and the valley de l’Adour, it is the area I know the most. Cyclist know the area for the tourmalet, l’Aspin and other mythic cols. I’m going to ramble a bit sorry in advance. If I was to base myself for skiing la Mongie and a few days in Cauteret I would base myself in Bagneres de Bigorre or a small village around there. Bagneres is a small city at the head of the valley. You will be driving to the resort (Cauteret been the further) but the choice of restaurant, local market on the weekend and walking through the street, make it worth it (unless you want ski in ski out. In this case stay in Bareges on the other side as it is prettier than the La Mongie side of the grand Tourmalet. And it is closer to Cauteret also). Bagneres is another thermal town. You will be able to relax your tired legs in warm water after a day of skiing. For a true XIX century thermal experience (with a few renovations since!) go to Capvern les Bains on your day off and explore the Baronnies (the foothills region between the two valleys. Finger cross, I might wave at you if I’m there in the winter 2021).

    Make sure to lose some weight before your trip because you will eat like a king! Local recommendation: have a Garbure (cabbage, beans, duck confit soup), try the local ham made with a specific black pork only find in the region, the gateau a la broche and of course more duck confit that you can handle. Local cheese is abundant. Go to one of the local markets on the weekend for some sampling. In Bagneres, you can eat in Les Halles in the middle of the market (like the local).

    Ok ski stuff now.

    In the Valley of Lourdes (aka the Catholic Las Vegas. Interesting town to say the least and I apologised all heartily for my agnostic view here), You will find Cauteret resort and Luz Ardiden (as well as the road to Bareges (Grand Tourmalet resort).

    Cauteret is the resort with the most snow in the Pyrenees. It is small but it is a fantastic resort. It is STEEP! You feel in an haute montagne environment (and you are). It is easy to lap the resort (also because it is small) but it has long queue on the weekend and school holidays). Not my first pick if you have kids and beginner with you. However, if the snow is on and you are an advance skier, please enjoy! Cauteret is a big bowl and on a powder day just pick your line. One of the most famous backcountry line is Ilheous. 1000m vertical, not technically difficult but expose to avalanches at the bottom. Take a guide or know what you are doing.

    Side note: school holiday in France are divided in 3 zones meaning that not everyone goes on holidays at the same time (except for Christmas). If the Bordeaux area or the Toulouse area is on holidays it will influence the number of people at your chosen resort. Avoid going to the Alps went Parisians are in holidays but the Pyrenees are further so less crowded. If Toulouse or Bordeaux are on Holidays, the opposite is true.

    I haven’t ski in Luz Ardiden since I turn 8 so I won’t comment on the resort.

    On both side of the col du Tourmalet, the Grand tourmalet resort (Bareges and la Mongie) is on of the larger resort in the Pyrenees. You can ski here for a week without running the same piste 100 time over. One of the highlights is to go to the pic du midi de bigorre (there is an astronomy observatory at the top). The view at the top is spectacular and there is lots of backcountry line of it. My personal favourite area is Les Aygues Cluses. 30 min boot packing from the top of the telesiege des quatres thermes open up an entire valley. There is also great skiing from the Taoulet. The forest on the Bareges side has some good bad weather stuff.

    If you want to eat like a king at a resort, have lunch at l’etape du berger. In Bareges everyone knows Chez Louisette. Not sure how much skiing you do after a meal at either place…

    Talking about restaurant, if you want an authentic country experience and true regional gastronomy, try the Refuge des Chasseurs – Chez Loulou at the col des Palomieres. Hard to do more authentic!

    Ok next Valley! If I wanted to stay for a week, not move and ski 3 good resorts (at least), I would stay in Valley d’Aure. There is rental all along the valley, with Arreau and Saint Lary the 2 ‘town’ at the bottom. I prefer Arreau has it is more authentic (Saint Lary is posher in the context of the Pyrenees (aka still country hicks compare to most Alps resort)).

    Peyragudes is a family resort. I learnt to ski there and have very fond memory. If the snow cover allowed, there is a great mellow run/slackcountry down the valley blanche. Great first experience outside the resort. I heard the lifts are some of the most modern in the Pyrenees so there is not much queuing. I haven’t been recently so I cannot tell you. Don’t stay at the resort. No village life there (but Arreau is at the bottom of the access road).

    Saint Lary is great resort. The village in the valley is nice (great restaurant, shops and rental) and you have a funicular taking you straight to the resort (you can drive up if you wish or if you only want to ski around Espiaube, where all the good skiing is). I might be the largest ski resort in the French Pyrenees (don’t quote me). The ski area is vast but it is not the easiest to get around. The plat d’adet sector (where the funicular arrived) is as the name indicate flat (plat). Great for beginner but the real stuff is in the Espiaube sector. This is really fun area. Plenty of steep stuff, lots of slack country and also line to scare the hell out of you. Backcountry wise, lots of stuff from the top of corneblanque: from easy (if only a bit exposed) such as the itinerary to the Lac d’oule to scary as **** couloirs all the way to the Pichaley. More mellow and super fun (actually on e of my favourite on a deep powder day) is the combes d’aulon (if the snow is there, you can ski all the way to Aulon village but hitchhike back or organise to drop a car first). Good stuff around the sarrats and the soum de mate also.

    Disclaimer 60 something. None of the backcountry stuff I have share are secret stuff. They are all fairly common knowledge. I won’t give you anything else, number one because I haven’t ski there for some time now and number two, well don’t want to piss off the locals!!

    At this end of the valley, just before taking the tunnel to Spain, is Piau Engaly. A bit like Cauteret, Piau is sort of a big bowl that get steeper as you get to the top. Do not stay at the resort unless you are a ski fanatic and want to be sure to have first lift every morning (nothing to do at night time).

    Actually, it gets really steep as well! High altitude, north facing, good lift and a good mix of easy/hard run (but clearly more for the advance skier), I love Piau so much. I love the resort also for one of the best backcountry sectors: l’envers de Piau. Definitely not a secret sector but my god it’s good! Couloirs, high speed bowls to undulating terrain. Everything there. If the weather is really crap, you can ski the forest under the telesiege du Hourc.

    Safety Alert for Piau: The East face of the Pic de Piau (the other side of l’envers de Piau) is ski mountaineering with serious consequences. I never went down the face and I know local that have waited years before the conditions were right. Do not go there unless you are with a local guide, know how to install an abseil and abseil down mix faces, etc. Sorry for the over exaggeration but this face is no joke.
     
    Chaeron, Hyst, art and 4 others like this.
  32. Signal du Bassia

    Signal du Bassia Early Days

    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2020
    Messages:
    15
    Likes Received:
    61
    Bonus tip for the valley d’Aure: Go to Spain! Often the weather come from the north and as you cross the tunnel d’Aragnouet, you could have gone from snow or rain on the French side to blue sky on the Spanish side. You will see how much arid the landscape is on the Spanish side. The Spanish side after the tunnel is a mecca for outdoors sports. There is fantastic enduro mountain biking trails (when there is no snow obviously) as well as kayaking, canyoning,etc. A day of trip to visit the old town of Ainsa is a must. Even stay the night and go fine dinning in a great restaurant (with Spanish cost = cheap) called “restaurante Callizo”.
     
    Chaeron, Hyst, piolet and 2 others like this.
  33. Signal du Bassia

    Signal du Bassia Early Days

    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2020
    Messages:
    15
    Likes Received:
    61
    I'll try to keep going west if i haven't bored you yet.
     
    Chaeron, cold wombat and skifree like this.
  34. cold wombat

    cold wombat Twitter Contributer Moderator Ski Pass: Gold

    Joined:
    Jun 4, 2008
    Messages:
    52,138
    Likes Received:
    23,857
    Location:
    Perth
    Am I the only one that suddenly wants to drop everything and move there permanently right now?

    Great descriptions @Signal du Bassia!
     
    Chaeron, art, skifree and 1 other person like this.
  35. cold wombat

    cold wombat Twitter Contributer Moderator Ski Pass: Gold

    Joined:
    Jun 4, 2008
    Messages:
    52,138
    Likes Received:
    23,857
    Location:
    Perth
    Bored? Not a bloody chance!
     
    Chaeron and skifree like this.
  36. piolet

    piolet Better make it three Ski Pass: Gold

    Joined:
    May 27, 2004
    Messages:
    32,879
    Likes Received:
    35,818
    Location:
    in the cupboard covered in dust
    Wikiski still a thing?
     
    Chaeron and cold wombat like this.
  37. cold wombat

    cold wombat Twitter Contributer Moderator Ski Pass: Gold

    Joined:
    Jun 4, 2008
    Messages:
    52,138
    Likes Received:
    23,857
    Location:
    Perth
    Chop chop, off you go!
     
  38. Signal du Bassia

    Signal du Bassia Early Days

    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2020
    Messages:
    15
    Likes Received:
    61
    Little break from the resorts to talk access. The closer airport would be Toulouse (I think you can fly to Pau as well). Toulouse is a great university town. Go visit the town center, eat the best cassoulet of your life (restaurant address on request) and party the night away in the many bars. I was born there and went to uni in Toulouse so, again, very bias advice. Oh, and go see the best rugby team in the world played in Ernest Wallon.

    More seriously, Toulouse is a good place to catch the train to Tarbes, Pau and other city close to the resort. From there transfer by bus to your destination or rent a car. Of course you can rent a car from Toulouse. The closer resort from Toulouse are 1h to 1h30min by car (Peyragudes, Luchon, Ax les thermes). Even better if you do not wish to drive, Luchon and Ax les thermes have a direct train deserving the 2 towns. Driving to the head of each valley is easy and you defineltly do not need any shape or form of 4 wheel drive. Most of the resort can be access without snow chains except when it is pucking obviously but I can count on 1 (maybe two) hands the number of time I haven’t been able to reach a resort.

    Access to Andorra is straight forward: go to Ax and continue up to mountain pass. The road will very rarely been closed as it is the only access to Andorra from France and the ski resort is at the col.

    Similarly for Baqueira, it is easier to reach the station from the French side than from Spain. The resort is in a valley geographically belonging to France (the Val d’Aran). Little trivia, the valley speak a variation of Catalan endemic from the valley only and as a strong identity.
     
    Chaeron, Hyst, skifree and 1 other person like this.
  39. Signal du Bassia

    Signal du Bassia Early Days

    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2020
    Messages:
    15
    Likes Received:
    61
    ??
     
  40. Signal du Bassia

    Signal du Bassia Early Days

    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2020
    Messages:
    15
    Likes Received:
    61
    Sorry i don't get it.
     
  41. Signal du Bassia

    Signal du Bassia Early Days

    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2020
    Messages:
    15
    Likes Received:
    61
    Lol! you woudn't be the first! ;)
    Plenty of old "bergerie" in need of love and renovation if you are keen!
     
    cold wombat likes this.
  42. cold wombat

    cold wombat Twitter Contributer Moderator Ski Pass: Gold

    Joined:
    Jun 4, 2008
    Messages:
    52,138
    Likes Received:
    23,857
    Location:
    Perth
    Wikiski. It's supposed to be where we create a permanent repository of wisdom so it doesn't get lost in old threads. Unfortunately it has been a long time since it's had much love. But since @piolet asked the question, he's earned the job of spending a few minutes updating the wiki (if possible, not sure of the state of wiki logins, haven't done that for a few years now).

    BTW @Richard, it's still running on http!
     
    Chaeron and piolet like this.
  43. cold wombat

    cold wombat Twitter Contributer Moderator Ski Pass: Gold

    Joined:
    Jun 4, 2008
    Messages:
    52,138
    Likes Received:
    23,857
    Location:
    Perth
    Just tried, can still login. It used to be a separate auth system, not sure now. Prolly still is.
     
  44. piolet

    piolet Better make it three Ski Pass: Gold

    Joined:
    May 27, 2004
    Messages:
    32,879
    Likes Received:
    35,818
    Location:
    in the cupboard covered in dust
    Yeah not happening
    I rattle out short bursts on my phone, not really the ideal contributer
     
  45. cold wombat

    cold wombat Twitter Contributer Moderator Ski Pass: Gold

    Joined:
    Jun 4, 2008
    Messages:
    52,138
    Likes Received:
    23,857
    Location:
    Perth
    What, Wikiski is not the ideal shit posting medium?

    ;)
     
    skifree and piolet like this.
  46. cold wombat

    cold wombat Twitter Contributer Moderator Ski Pass: Gold

    Joined:
    Jun 4, 2008
    Messages:
    52,138
    Likes Received:
    23,857
    Location:
    Perth
    But it is *very* mobile unfriendly!
     
    piolet likes this.
  47. Signal du Bassia

    Signal du Bassia Early Days

    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2020
    Messages:
    15
    Likes Received:
    61
    Ok kids are in bed so next valley. The only issue is all of this make me home sick. I’m getting back into the backcountry this season (resorts closed or not) so hopefully I can fall in love with the Australian bakcountry to fill the void.
     
    skifree and Chaeron like this.
  48. Signal du Bassia

    Signal du Bassia Early Days

    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2020
    Messages:
    15
    Likes Received:
    61
    So the next valley is Bagneres de Luchon. Old thermal town with this natural hammam (vaporarium), it’s the perfect family resort. lift directly from town, lots of blue runs and the train straight into town if you do not want to rent a car. If you look hard enough you will find some nice slack country but clearly not the main attraction here. Also the resort is really sunny. Nice for the tan and the relax skiing, not so for the snow… the valley is quite open at the bottom (for the pyrenees). Quite a contrast from the valley of Ax les thermes for example. Luchon is also not far from Baqueira if you want to do both. I haven’t ski Baqueira a lot. It was the king of Spain resort. a lot more upmarket than the rest. That say it is huge, the lift assisted backcountry is world class and Catalan food great. Actually, been a bit upmarket, the restaurants scene in Baqueira is great apparently.

    I’m jumping a lot of station in the Ariege region (Guzet for example). The next one is Ax les 3 domaines and we are now entering the Catalan Pyrenees (not this valley but the next) . Ax is the closest resort from Toulouse, super accessible in train so it can get busy on the weekend. As in Luchon, the eggs take you straight from town to Bonascre. Ax ticks a lot of points without excelling in any (I still think it is a fantastic resort). Nice village for the apres, good snow, great for family but still as some advance terrain and backcountry stuff. Go check out around Campels and Savis. As well lots of tree runs around Bonascre (not too commun in the pyrenees). Make your way to pic rebenty for steeper more exposed stuff. There is a lot more but local are pretty tight lips as the resort can get busy with people who shouldn’t be off the corduroy. On your day off go visit the grotte de Niaux for some really cool prehistory painting. If you are around in spring/summer/autum (not too much snow basically), the dent d’Orlu has 200 to 900 metres sport climbing routes (still lots of space between some anchors!). I use to take beginner that could belay me on some and get them addicted. I’m sure the bureau des guides of Ax could organised to take u there. Also an off day activity is to go visit the cathares castle (Montsegur in particular).

    The other particularity of Ax is that it is on road to Andorra. Now the size and varity of resort in Andorra is unmatched in the pyrenees. Specially now that all seems to be link with each other.

    I’ve skied a lot at the Pas de la Case (first resort as you come up the road from France) but to be honest skiing was not the main focus each time. The story goes like that: Andorra is a tax free country and as a broke student, we use to fill a car, share the petrol between us 5 and go ‘skiing’ in the Pas de la Case. However, the real goal was to smuggle as much tax free cigarettes and alcohol legally allowed (or slightly over…) back to our campus to sell for a profit. This trip paid for lots of my outdoors gear!

    All that to said that I don’t have great recollection of the skiing in Andorra…. But by all account from my family it is really good.
     
    skifree, Chaeron, Hyst and 2 others like this.
  49. Signal du Bassia

    Signal du Bassia Early Days

    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2020
    Messages:
    15
    Likes Received:
    61
    The last cluster of resort is in the Catalan pyrenees. Formigueres, Les angles, Font Romeu. The scenery as changed a lot by this point as we are not far from the Mediterranean sea now. If you have ski in the Alpes du Sud and opposed to the Alpes du Nord, you can get an idea of the variation in fauna and flora. A this station don’t always received as much snow than their Haute Pyrenees counterpart. But some year, lots of weather come from the Mediterranean sea and you get fantastic conditions. As in really really good. It is also a lot more forested with great tree runs.

    Les Angles has a great village. Lots of apres activities and the village itself is charming. I never score the resort after a dump but with the wind from the sea, you get good pocket of the fluffy stuff in bowls and in the trees. Also the view is top class. The Catalan culture (I mean food obviously) is very different from the mountain fare in other area of the pyrenees. Speciality such as a cargolade are delicious (ok it’s barbecued garlic and butter snails. Can’t be more French!)

    Finally the last resort in this overview of the pyrenees is Font Romeu. The sunniest French resort. it’s quite big, they are very good at snow making and if you are a beginner/intermediaire you will love it. If you like the steep, go west. Font Romeu is famous for been a altitude training centre for professional athlete. The French biathlon team trained there and one of the legend of the sport Martin Fourcade is from the area. I’ve done some run in the tree and had some decent day there but I wouldn’t go there for that. Come back when the snow as melted and go bouldering in the Chaos of Targassone. That’s world class site.

    Well last thing to do is to get your feet in the mediteranean sea in Collioure, eat some local anchovies that will melt in your mouth, have a glass of Banyuls and taste the Catalan cuisine.

    Now that you have fell in love with the pyrenees, start planning for the Haute Route Pyreneenne (HRP). Hiking or even better on ski…
     
  50. Signal du Bassia

    Signal du Bassia Early Days

    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2020
    Messages:
    15
    Likes Received:
    61
    Hard to believe but I normally never post on the internet. So hope you get some info out of all of this. Don’t hesitate to ask me some questions now or whenever you planning to visit this part of the world. I might not have the answer but I sure can ask the friends and family back home.