Oke, it might not be as über-huge as Les Trois Vallees, not as über-chique as Gstaad or as über-apres-ski as Saalbach, but we just had to go the Sierra Nevada to go skiing this year. After all we hadn’t brought our ski gear for nothing to Spain when we moved over here, right? Skiing this far south what could that be, except for sunny weather, we thought, probably a small resort and and short season. Not.
This year the start of the Sierra Nevada winter ski season was as early as 29 November with the season typically lasting until late April. Renowned as the most southerly and sunny ski resort in Europe skiing starts at about 2.100m from which you can go up about one more kilometer. The resort’s 100km of track, varying levels of difficulty, stunning views and close proximity to the historic heart of Granada make the Sierra Nevada a favourite among locals and hardcore skiers and snowboarders alike. So not bad at all, certainly not for a short break.
Despite playing second fiddle to Europe’s more central resorts, Sierra Nevada is enjoying a glowing and growing reputation for offering something different on the slopes and, in the small and cozy resort. As it seems (we were off just before that..) there is a thriving après ski scene that plays on the best Spanish stereotypes of good food, fine wine and thumping fun enjoyed late into the night.
Local minister for Sport and Culture, Luciano Alonso, has stressed that the resort will do all it can to make the slopes ‘accessible for as many people as possible’ during these straitened economic times. We felt that EUR 44 pp for a one day ski pass wasn’t too much, but I wouldn’t call it completely in line with those words.
Sierra Nevada’s ski resort has benefited from a number of improvements in recent years, and in March 2013 will host the Freestyle Ski and Snowboard World Cup Super Final, with attention falling on the resort’s excellent Sulayr Terrain Park, which boasts the largest permanent half-pipe in Spain and will test the mettle of 550 of the world’s best skiers and snowboarders.
But if you’re after something a little less hair-raising, fear not – the resort boasts a number of slopes designed to cater for all ages (like yours truly) and abilities, and the pre- , during and après ski scene is as brilliant and welcoming as if your were 2000km further north.
Certainly while we there the snow was perfect and so was the sun, and with views over the Mediterranean to the east, Africa to the south and Granada downhill this place has something to offer where the central European ski areas only can dream of.
So, off the bucket list? No, next year back for the T shirt!