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Saturday April 1, 2017 - Email this article to a friend

The tiny principality high up in the Pyrenees is only for intermediates with limited skiing and few challenges. Wrong: PlanetSKI de-bunks the myth. DAY 3.


The chances are you have probably never heard of Arcalis. 

Well it's perhaps the best resort you have never heard of.

It is one of Andorra's best kept secrets.

It is the highest resort with the best snow and the steepest terrain.

Andorra, The PyreneesAndorra, The Pyrenees
















Andorra, The PyreneesAndorra, The Pyrenees
















Its name is getting about though as it now holds a round of the Freeride World Tour - my advice is to get here before everybody hears about it.

Andorra now holds a number of World classs snowsports events - as well as freeriding there is Park and Pipe and Alpine skiing but more of that later in this article.

"The Freeride World Tour chose us a destination three years and it has been very successful. We have good snow, the right terrain and the partnership works very well," said the marketing manager of the resort, Borja Fernandez.

"It is hard to judge the direct commercial benefits but we know it is so good for our image, more people have now heard to Arcalis and we are developing our freeride image."

Sadly we didn't have fresh powder but I have skied Arcalis in fresh powder and it has some of the best concentration of lines and areas that I can think off.

It reminds me of Kicking Horse in Canada - a small number of lifts but a huge amount of terrain if you go looking and know where to go. 

Small but perfectly formedSmall but perfectly formed
















Plus you can ski anywhere in the resort's open terrain.

Think 'inbounds' in North America.

Now I can't pretend the other resorts in the Vallnord ski area have such good terrain for advanced skiers - but they are interesting in their own way and I swung by Pal and Arinsal simply because I could.

It is on the same lift pass and I never turn down the chance to ski a resort even if only for a few runs.

Some people collect stamps or classic cars - I collect ski resorts.

Or rather ski resort visits. 

Over 600 different resorts in total and Arinsal marked the 50th resort I had skied in this winter.

Andorra, The Pyrenees50 not out

















Check out the video snow report posted as I took the lift down at the end of the day:

Andorra is making significant attempts to boost its appeal to freeride and freestyle skiers and snowboarders.

We have heard about the Freeride World Tour but it also has World Cup ski racing and in 2019 it hosts the final events of the World Cup and will likely be where the winners of the season are crowned.

"It is a very important event for us as the eyes of the ski world will be on us and this is very significant for a small country," said the race director, Jordi Pujol Planella, to me.

Andorra, The PyreneesAndorra, The Pyrenees
















It is something of a coup for Andorra and the final races of the World Cup will include Downhill, Super G, Giant Slalom and Slalom.

And this season some of the best freestylers in the world are in El Tartar for the Total Flight competition.

The Park was being prepared as I passed overhead.

Preparing the parkPreparing the park
















Preparing the parkPreparing the park
















And from April 6th - 9th, the fastest skiers in the world will be in Andorra.

Racing straight down this slope for the three final trials of the Speed Skiing World Cup.

200km/h +200km/h +


















The resort has previously hosted five consecutive editions of the World Cup trials, along with the Speed Skiing World Championships in 2016.

This season's trial will take place on the Riberal slope in Grandvalira's Grau Roig sector and will once again feature a tower some 10 metres high by 18 metres long.

Upon exiting this tower, skiers will be able to reach speeds of around 200 km/h.

And after my whirlwind 72-hours of action, adventure and adrenalin in Andorra there was only one place to head for to unwind - the largest Spa in Europe.

Andorra, The PyreneesAndorra, The Pyrenees
















Once again Andorra had delivered.

See here for my Day One blog as i hit the World Cup runs and the freeride areas in Grandvalira.

And on Day Two it was first tracks, ski touring, zip wires and husky dog running.


Enjoy a week at the Neilson Hotel Del Clos in El Tarter from £649 per person, travelling on 7th January 2018. 

The price includes return flights from London Stansted, resort transfers, 7 nights at the Neilson Hotel Del Clos on a club board basis (daily breakfast and afternoon tea plus 6 evening meals), plus the free Neilson Mountain Experts guiding and coaching service.
Optional activities:
- Fresh Trax - €15 per person (includes early lift up the mountain, a guide and coffee/pastry at the end)
- Husky sledding - €36.50 per person.
- Zip wire – €15 per person. Available in Canillo sector only. Not an adrenalin junkie experience. More an aerial view over canillo and a gentle glide down.
- Free ride –
Freeride Introduction is 3 hours. €42.20 per person. Includes intro to avalanche safety kit and freeride.
Freeride session is 4 hours. €220 for the session with up to 6 people (cost is split by pax). Includes use of kit and freeride.
Guests can go on to take an ISTA qualification (€110 for the qualification, only available after 7 hours of sessions have been completed, and at a further cost of €110)

See here for the main PlanetSKI news page with all the latest stories from the world of snowsports.

PlanetSKI: No1 for ski news

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