Skiing in Baqueira Beret

Baqueira’s ski area covers 2273 hectares (5617 acres) and has over 165km of skiing on more than 100 different pistes plus a handful of official ungroomed freeride routes. A medium-sized area that should be big enough for most skiers for a week’s holiday, especially as there is a lot of unofficial off-piste terrain for stronger skiers to explore.

Baqueira Beret Ski Area Overview

The ski area has three lift-linked sectors: Baqueira which has skiing down to the resort at 1500m: Beret which is 9km by road to the northeast, 350m higher up the mountain, and has skiing on both sides of the valley; and Bonaigua, about 9km southeast of Baqueira, which is shown in the photo and has the highest base station at 1900m. The connections between the sectors are excellent, with a choice of blue and red runs, so almost everyone can explore all three sectors. Baciver, the newest and highest part of the ski area, is part of the Beret sector but is easily approached from Baqueira. Two long and steep drag lifts (boarders beware) ascend to 2610m giving access to red runs and plenty of off-piste. At Beret, there is a Snowpark with three levels of difficulty and a separate Bordercross park.

Ski Lifts

The ski lift system generally copes with the demands placed upon it. On weekdays outside of peak holiday periods, there are no lift queues at all, but queues can build up when the resort gets busier. There is a handful of draglifts and T-bars, which some boarders might feel is too many. Most of the chairlifts are modern, detachable, high-speed ones.

Snow Conditions

Baqueira’s ski area largely faces northwest, which puts it directly in the path of the snow-laden winter storms coming in from the Atlantic. Almost all the slopes are over 1800m and are reinforced by snow canons, so the main ski area is pretty much snowsure from Christmas through to Easter, although the west-facing runs closest to the resort can be icy first thing in the morning. Experts should also be aware that Baqueira’s ungroomed black runs and off-piste routes require fresh natural powder, and its snow record, whilst superior to almost anywhere else in the Pyrenees, does not match the highest snowiest resorts in the Alps.

Beginner Skiing in Baqueira Beret

There are about 5km of nursery slopes and easy green runs in Baqueira split between the three ski sectors, but there is no regular ski bus service to Beret and Bonaigua from the accommodation in Baqueira, so these nursery slopes are out of reach for beginners who have not yet mastered blue runs and don’t have a car unless they pay for a taxi. The nursery slopes at Baqueira are one lift to Bosque at 1800m. This means they are snowsure but beginners need to buy a full lift pass to access them. (The beginners’ area at Beret has a special low-cost pay-per-ride system if you can get to it.) There is a good choice of ski schools – see below. Baqueira Beret has a huge network of blue pistes for beginners to progress onto, but many are quite steep in places, so absolute beginners should not be rushed into skiing them. The easiest blue runs tend to be around Beret.

Intermediate Skiing in Baqueira Beret

Baqueira is an excellent resort for intermediates. Over 80% of the official runs are intermediate-friendly reds and blues, and most of the black runs should also be within reach of confident intermediates if snow conditions are good. The highlight for intermediates, if only for the scenery and the changes in terrain, is the red runs coming down from the top of Baciver. They are not particularly steep but are narrow in places. If you keep going (there are several places where you take lifts back up the mountain) you can ski into Baqueira to complete a 1,110m vertical run, which is a serious test of stamina if skied non-stop.

Advanced & Expert Skiing in Baqueira Beret

Advanced skiers and boarders should start with Baqueira’s black runs which are usually left ungroomed. There are more than 15 and there is a signposted circuit called the ‘Safari-Negro‘ which shows the shortest way to ski them all. Another option is to start with the black runs at Bonaigua, which are mostly east-facing and at their best in the morning. After skiing these, a more serious test awaits in the form of Baqueira’s official freestyle itineraries, the most famous of which is the aptly named Escornacrabes, or ‘Where goats fall’. These are not patrolled but they are marked and the gates to them are opened if the resort regards them as safe.

Off-Piste & Freeride Skiing in Baqueira Beret

As well as the official ungroomed black runs and freeride routes (see above), there are unofficial freeride opportunities in between the pistes all over the Baqueira ski area. Some of the steepest are between the Jorge Jordana lift and the Escornacrabes itinerary, between the Teso dera Mina lift and the Argulls piste, and under and around the Peulla lift.

Hiring a guide (see below) is highly recommended to find the best descents. Guides can also arrange proper off-piste itineraries into the backcountry: these include descents of Tuc de Baciver (a 15 – 20 minute climb from the top of the Baciver drag lift), Tuc deth Dessau, Tuc de la Llanca and Cap de la Peulla. Some itineraries finish well outside the ski area, so unless you opt to return on skins, guides will organise a taxi or a pre-parked car or a pick-up on a snowmobile.

Heliskiing, which is banned in France and heavily restricted in Austria, is legal in Spain and can be arranged through mountain guides in Baqueira. Prices are much lower than in Switzerland.

Mountain Restaurants in Baqueira Beret

In Baqueira the mountain restaurants tend to be close to the base stations. In each sector, there is at least one and sometimes two self-service cafés plus a more formal table service restaurant. In the self-service cafes, if it’s a cold day, try the typical Spanish/Catalonian Hot Chocolate, which is normally so rich and thick it’s barely liquid.

When the resort is very busy, remember the Spanish tend to lunch late, so eat early to avoid queues. The table-service restaurants are not cheap but offer high-class food for a price similar to what a very ordinary hamburger and chips would cost in a smart French, Swiss or Austrian resort. Restaurant El Bosque (Tel +34 973 639 001) near the top of the Bosque and Esquiros lifts has particularly good pork and ham.

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