On the Slopes
The three local ski sectors are focused around extensive mid-altitude service areas at the top of each of the access-point gondolas
, high above the resort villages.
Confident novices should be able to venture out into all sectors by the end of their first week; intermediates and more advanced riders will appreciate the big mileage and have plenty of terrain to keep them challenged and entertained.
The ski area begins on the far side of a deep ravine which runs parallel to the main through-road, with two blue and two black pistes making home runs back to the foot of the village via a wide skiable bridge high over the river. Direct access to the beginners' slopes, for all onward pistes and links, is provided by a fast gondola
departing from a spacious base station at the upper end of the village.
The extent of the ski area is impressive, offering a good range of slopes to cater for all bar the most advanced-ability visitors: the centrally located beginners' zone
is vast, and there are plenty of long cruising blues and fast reds, a handful of mild yet testing black runs, plus acres of open freeriding terrain; all well-linked with the other Grandvalira sectors. The ski lifts & pistes network interlaces organically with the neighbouring El Tarter sector, and the links north-east towards Grau Roig for the Pas de la Casa sectors are also straightforward.
El Tarter Sector
Before the expansion of the SET ski area into the Cubil Valley towards Grau Roig, the El Tarter snowbowl was the stations' largest sector. It is still a magnet for most visitors, and Grandvalira continues to invest resources into improving the facilities, the ski lifts, and the pistes here; making it a very versatile area.
A new 10-passenger gondola
was inaugurated in the 2004/05 season, providing fast uplift directly from the car park area at El Tarter's base station to the busy Riba Escorxada services hub
and beginners' zone
which is spread over the lower lip of the wide snowbowl above. Centred around one of the best terrain parks
in the Pyrenees, this lovely sheltered bowl offers something for all abilities and is the main focus of this sector. The nearby Soldeu and Canillo sectors are also easy to reach, requiring only one additional lift journey in order for you to make the link.
At the weekends (conditions permitting), the station also runs a Ratrac-tow service serving an exciting in-bounds freeride zone
off the summit of Pic d'Encampadana; included at no extra charge in the price of the standard area lift pass.
As parochial capital, the commune of Canillo has been the major shareholder in the parish's ski stations (Soldeu-El Tarter) for decades, yet the village has only been physically linked with the ski area since the year 2000.
The 8-seater Canillo gondola
cabins whisk passengers up to the sheltered, family-orientated El Forn slopes
high above the village. El Forn is an integrally complete little ski area in its own right; it also has an onward chairlift (and return pistes) linking with the upper El Tarter sector.
The rideable zone begins at the top of the gondola, there are no ‘home run’ pistes down to the village. Beyond the principal green-graded slopes, there is also an enjoyable long blue and a fast black.