There are many ways to enjoy the mountains – whether it be skiing, snowboarding, sledging, snowmobiling, or simply soaking up the sunshine on one of the many terraces… But have you ever considered cross-country skiing?
Cross-country skiing is a form of Nordic skiing which has been around for thousands of years and was traditionally used as a means of travelling across vast, snowy landscapes. Now, however, cross-country skiing is enjoyed more commonly as a form of recreation and as a different way to experience alpine environments.
But, what actually is cross-country skiing?
Unlike ‘normal’, alpine skiing, cross-country skiing mainly involves travelling across the snow, rather than skiing down it as you would with alpine skiing (more commonly known as downhill skiing). The idea is that you don’t need to use chairlifts or gondola to access the mountains – instead you simply use the movement of your own body to propel yourself across the snow. As lift passes are therefore not required, cross-country skiing is often a cheaper form of enjoying the mountains.
There are two main styles of cross-country skiing – the ‘Classic’ and ‘Skating.’ The Classic form of cross-country skiing involves moving yourself by keeping your skis faced forward and taking long strides with your opposite arm helping to propel yourself across the terrain. Your arms and legs move in opposite ways – so as you move forward with your left leg, your right arm comes forward – and vice versa. The Classic form of skating is perhaps the most commonly practised and is also the least intensive version. Meanwhile, the skating style of cross-country skiing is a little more challenging as it involves pushing yourself off on one ski and gliding across the snow – similar to the same motion you would do if you were roller blading.
What equipment is involved with cross-country skiing?
The great thing about cross-country skiing is that it is suitable for people of all ages and abilities; however, you do need specialist equipment. Unlike alpine skiing, with cross-country skiing your heel is not fixed to your bindings, and this is what allows your body to make the movements required to travel across the terrain. Cross-country boots are also a little softer than normal skiing boots and have to fit to the cross-country skis.
Where can I do cross-country skiing in Andorra?
Cross-country excursions are available in the Grau Roig sector of Grandvalira, which is known for its incredible snow, quiet slopes and its beautiful surrounding mountain scenery. The excursions come with your equipment hire (skis and boots) and an experienced guide who will explain the basics of cross-country skiing. The prices of the excursion are €50 per person for one hour, or €65 per person for two hours. The activity is suitable for all levels and ages from six years old, and the minimum number of people for this cross-country excursion is four people. There is no need to book the excursion in advance.
You don’t need to have a lift pass to book the cross-country skiing excursion as the excursions go from the Grandvalira Mountain Activities Centre which is located just by the car park in Grau Roig and therefore accessible by car. If you already have a lift pass then you can access the Mountain Activities Centre by skiing or snowboarding there (the Centre is located just by the Antennes chairlift).
If you are visiting Arinsal or La Massana you can book a private guided cross-country excursion via St Moritz hire shop. The excursion can be adapted to suit all levels of the participants and includes an expert guide, transport from your accommodation, and insurance for the day.
Prices are as follows:
Half day excursion: €150 per person, + €30 per additional person.
Full Day excursion: €200 per person, +€50 per additional person.
St Moritz group have health and safety approved equipment for rent and also some VIP Black Crows skis. In 2018/19 winter season St Moritz group will offering overnight excursions, so watch this space for more information!
Already have your own gear?
There are five cross-country routes in Vallnord, varying from easy to intermediate and expert. If you have your own equipment, then you can explore the routes at your leisure. If you would like the routes, just get in touch.
Don’t have your own gear?
You can hire cross-country skis and boots from the Grandvalira mountain activities centre for €25 per day. Also, with St Moritz in Vallnord you can hire cross-country skis and boots for €42.50 per day (these are in the VIP category).
Located 23 kilometres from Andorra la Vella is Naturalandia Adventure Park which has 15 kilometres of cross-country skiing terrain which is suitable for a variety of abilities, ranging from green, red and blue routes.
It’s only €14 for an Adult ski pass for the day, and just €8 for child. You can hire the full ski equipment for €16 for adults and €14 for children per day.
You can hire a guide for €25 per hour for one person, but if there’s three or more of you the total cost is €60 for the hour (maximum 10 people).
If you are interested in trying cross-country skiing, or would like more information, just get in touch with the Andorra Resorts team.