Skiing in Soldeu

Historically, the six village resorts that make up the “Grand Valley” were unable or unwilling to cooperate meaning that, potentially, you needed a different pass for Pas de la Casa, Grau Roig, Soldeu, El Tarter, Canillo and Encamp.

Soldeu Ski Area Overview

But that was before the government in Andorra la Vella insisted that the families who ran these resorts start working together. Grandvalira is the result – the union of Pas de la Casa – Grau Roig and Soldeu El Tarter to create a unified 1,926 hectares ski area with 110 runs and 193km of skiing and boarding served by 64 lifts, 972 snow cannons, 2 ski and snowboard schools with 450 instructors and a total of 33 mountain restaurants and eateries,

The entire ski area spreads above Soldeu (1,800m) and five nearby villages – Encamp (1,300m), Canillo (1,500m) and El Tarter (1,710m), Grau Roig (2,120m) and Pas de la Casa (2,100m), rising to 2,640m and besides 193km of pistes includes 4 off-piste ski routes, 2 competition areas, 3 freestyle areas, 2 permanent boardercross and an adventure activities centre.

It’s not to the same extent nor as high as the biggest ski areas in the Alps, but with 193km of skiing and a lift system carrying 99,600 skiers per hour Grandvalira is by far the biggest ski area in the Andorra and Spain – Baqueira Beret has 104km, Sierra Nevada 84km and Aramon Formigal 64km.

Skiing out of Soldeu begins at TSD6 Soldeu or TC8 Soldeu from which it is possible to connect with all the other runs in the Grandvalira once you reach Tossal de la Llosada. If you get to the northern end of the run (Pas de la Casa) or the south (El Forn) and decide you don’t want to ski back, there is a bus (free if you show your ski pass) from any point on the Grandvalira all the way home. To make matters simpler still, the bus displays the word “Grandvalira” in very big letters so it won’t be mistaken for the local service.

Snow cannons cover 68km of 193km (35%) of the ski area and with Soldeu and most villages in Grandvalira at an altitude above 1,700m and the skiing mostly between 2,000 -2,680m the ski area is reasonably snow sure.

With 18 green slopes, 38 blue, 32 red and 22 black runs all categories of on-piste skier are catered for, but it’s predominantly best for beginners and intermediates, but there’s plenty of opportunity for advanced skiers including skiing off-piste between the trees.

Beginner Skiing in Soldeu

The Grandvalira region has a total of 18 green runs and 38 blue of which 6 green runs and 13 blue are above Soldeu.

There is a “beginner zone” next to the ski school at Espiolets at the top of the two Soldeu lifts which is served by the Escola button lift.

Adventurous beginners who take the blue run “gall de bosc” as far as Riba Escorxada will find another “beginner zone” served by the Riba lift. From here it is possible to take the blue “Esquirol” run down into El Tarter and get the Grandvaliar bus back to Soledu (free on production of your ski pass) or take the TSD6 Tosa Espiolets lift to Tosa dels Espiolets and then any one of several blue runs back down to Soldeu. There are no green runs back into town.

Intermediate & Advanced Skiing in Soldeu

For those who fancy clocking up 193km in one day, there is the new Explore Grandvalira tour itinerary which gives you the option to cover the whole ski area from Pas de la Casa to El Forn which passes through Soldeu.

Conditions permitting there are also good opportunities for off-piste skiing from Pic D’Encampadana (black and red runs) but getting to this is an effort. From Tossal de la Lossada take the blue run Llosada to where the pistebasher will tow you across the saddle to the Pic D’Encampadana. The alternative is to take three lifts up from Canillo.

Three graded off-piste ski routes (2 red and 1 black) converge at Riba Escorxada from which there is a snowshoe route down to El Forn then take the TSD4 Portella ski lift back up to Portella and ski down the blue run “Daina” to start over again.

The Grau Roig sector is noted for its scenic mountain landscapes and as one of the largest of the six sectors comprising Grandvalira offers extensive off-piste skiing and boarding opportunities.

To find the best snow and the best off-piste opportunities in Grandvalira, which is mostly given over to piste skiing, and to do so safely you’ll need to hire a guide and be prepared to do some skinning to get away from the main ski runs.

Boarding & Freestyle Skiing in Soldeu

There’s no restriction on snowboarding within the Grandvalira which is keen to be “cool” and increasingly the authorities are investing to expand and improve the existing snowparks and freestyle circuits.

Already there are 8 freestyle areas – three above Pas de la Casa, two at Grau Roig, another two above Soldeu and the ACG Snowpark above El Tarter. Of these “Colibri” on a red run descending from Cortals (2,502m) is probably the most spectacularly positioned but getting up is tediously complex (it’s easier to get there from Grau).

Alternatively “Boardercross Solana” is a permanent boardercross freestyle area below Tossal de la Llosada that is accessed without too much difficulty from Tosa dels Espiolets if you take the “Cucut” black run down to the TSF4 Assaladors lift. The circuit includes cambers and jumps so whether skiing freestyle or boarding you need to be agile and learn to control the speed of your descent which makes it a good place to practice and sharpen up your skills.

The ACG Snowpark, El Tarter, is exclusively for freestylers with six big jumps, a permanent pipe, rails, including a wave-shaped handrail, a pyramid, two boxes and a kick zone for beginners. Freestyle instructors are on hand to offer advice on how you can better your tricks and jumps and a dedicated maintenance team is in charge daily throughout the season. Not surprisingly given the size and quality of installations the ACG Snowpark is allegedly the best snowpark in the Pyrenees and the venue for several high-level competitions and exhibition events during the season. Get to it from the Pla de Riba Escorxada by the TK Font Roges or TSD6 Tossa Espiolets.

Soldeu Mountain Restaurants

Grandvalira has 33 on-mountain eating and drinking places offering a wider range of cuisine and eating experiences, from full-service restaurants to cafeterias and small huts where you can easily pit stop without even taking off your skis.

Whether you want to lunch on the outdoor terrace with great panoramic views of the Andorran Pyrenees, snuggle up around a warm fireplace in a traditional mountain inn or just want to grab a bite to eat on the fly, there’s a good choice and Grandvalira has codified its mountain restaurants into five categories to ease selection and budgeting.

In Soldeu, Gall de Bosc is worthy of its place in the Restaurants with Charm category and can be found at the top of the TC8 Soldeu ski lift in Pla Espiolets. There is a set menu and an a la carte starts. The view of the slopes is excellent as is the service. In the same building, you’ll also find Fun Food Gall de Bosc, Espress’oh! Gall de Bosc and out on the terrace there’s a XiriXuca known as XiriCrepes Gall de Bosc.

And if you just want a mid-morning coffee break (or breakfast) or a drink during the day there are 9 Espress’Oh! Cafeterias throughout Grandvalira, mostly situated in and around the main restaurants and Fun Food locations:

On a mission to clock the maximum amount of skiing and too busy for anything but a fast pit stop? Then you can pit stop at one of 16 ‘Xirixuca (small wooden shelter or stone hut) for a quick bite to eat or a drink sometimes without having to dismount from your skis or your board.

At the end of the Astoret blue run which descends from the TSD6 Solana, there is a handy Xirixuca known as XiriPizza la Solana

Restaurants with Charm

Top of the tree are 6 full-service ‘Restaurants with Charm’, one in each resort sector, mostly with good views of the ski area and serving international cuisine.

Solanelles (Encamp) Tel: +376 759 008
Roc de les Bruixes (Canillo) Tel: +376 890 696
Pi de Migdia (El Tarter) Tel: +376 890 500
Gall de Bosc (Soldeu) Tel: +376 890 607
Refugi dels Llacs dels Pessons (Grau Roig) Tel: +376 759 015
Costa Rodona (Pas de la Casa) Tel: +376 800 870

Self-service cafeterias

Less expensive  are 7 self-service cafeterias (Grau Roig has two) serving salads, pizzas, and basic fish and meat dishes:

Solanelles (Encamp) Tel: +376 759 008
El Forn (Canillo) Tel: +376 890 687
Pi de Migdia (El Tarter) Tel: +376 890 500
Espiolets (Soldeu) Tel: +376 890 581
El Cubil (Grau Roig) Tel: +376 872 930
El Piolet (Grau Roig) Tel: +376 759 190
Costa Rodona (Pas de la Casa) Tel: +376 800 870

Fun Food

Cheaper still are 3 Fun Food (for which read ‘fast food’) establishments for burgers, salads, sandwiches and drinks:

Canillo (Canillo) Tel: +376 890 662
Riba Escorxada (El Tarter) Tel: +376 890 662
Gall de Bosc Tel: +376 890 604

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