SKI SLOPES FOR BEGINNERS: PAS DE LA CASA
The main beginners' zone is located at the Abelletes area at the top end of Avinguda d'Encamp, about 350 m (383 yd) walk from the central base area; clearly marked on the upper left of the Grandvalira piste map. All of the green-graded pistes in this zone are named Abelletes (with ordinal numbering), as are the four simple rope-tows that serve them.
There is a piste-side Xirixuca snack bar and public WCs nearby, and the zone is directly accessible from the open-air car park at the top of the road.
The ski school also has a separate Snow Garden here for young children, safely fenced-off next to the beginners' slopes and equipped with an easy-to-use conveyor-belt surface lift, colourful obstacles and cartoon character statues, adding to the fun of the learning process for the youngest visitors.
The Abelletes area is nestled in a lovely scenic spot at the foot of stunning wild peaks, on flatter ground next to a frozen tarn and close to the source of the Ariege River. Being at the edge of the ski area, it is also quieter here and, as a result, the area is less intimidating for first-timers than the busier town slopes.
The nearby Isards and Fletxa pistes, both served by slow-moving fixed 2-seater chairlifts, provide seamless progression routes for novices when they're ready to move beyond the nursery slopes. The gentle lower section of the Fletxa piste glides across to join the main town slopes, thereby also providing a straightforward pisted link from the beginners' zone down to the central base area, saving piste users from having to walk back to resort.
Porte des Neiges A second, more compact, beginners' zone is located in the Porte des Neiges sector, next to the Estany chairlift on French territory at the eastern edge of Pas de la Casa town; this is served by a conveyor-belt surface lift. Plans are afoot to expand this zone, as part of the ambitious Porte des Neiges project to create a cross-border ski area. Watch this space!
UPDATE Winter 2010/2011: This expansion project has now been axed!
GRAU ROIG SECTOR
The Pessons beginners' slopes at Grau Roig cover a substantial area of wide open hillside, flowing down to the valley floor from the main services lodge & car park sited at 2120 m (6955 ft) altitude above sea level.
The area is served by a button tow and conveyor-belt surface lifts, there is also a static chairlift seat and button-tow pole for absolute beginners to practise on before they tackle the real ski lifts. A display of all standard piste signage is also set out here to aid teaching about route-finding and piste safety; this ‘Slope School’ initiative is provided at all Andorran ski stations as part of the mission to keep Andorra's world-class tuition standards as high as possible.
As at the other stations too, the ski school also provides a dedicated Snow Garden for children: this is safely fenced-off next to the main Pessons slopes, with its own easy-to-use conveyor-belt surface lifts, colourful obstacles and cartoon statues adding to the fun of the learning process.
A piste-side Xirixuca snack kiosk, housing a cosy interior bar, sits at the bottom of the Pessons snowfields; a wider choice of food & refreshments is also available at the various bars/restaurants in the nearby main services lodge, which is easily reached via the Pessons conveyor-belt or button tow. These lifts are also useful for gaining height in order to reach the main car park level from the valley floor, which is handy if you're approaching Grau Roig from the Cubil side of the valley. Likewise, the Pessons slopes also serve as a useful traverse to the major Pic Blanc and Cubil chairlifts for onward links towards the other Grandvalira sectors.
This main lifts/pistes interchange area on the valley floor also houses two further chairlifts: the detachable 6-seater Coma Blanca and the fixed 4-seater Xavi.
Both serve the slopes on the eastern side of the valley; the shorter Xavi lift links with the Clot and Bosc pistes and the Children's Circuit fun-piste, providing easy progression routes for novices on their first forays out into the main ski area.
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