KILLIAN FORDE's weekly ski report
Resort of the week
SIERRA NEVADA- PRADOLLANO, SPAIN
Only an hour from the Costa del Sol is Europe’s most southerly ski resort, Pradollano, more commonly known – and confusingly marketed – after the mountain range its perches in, the Sierra Nevada. Despite its proximity to the Mediterranean its snow record is pretty good, with the best conditions in late spring.
The village, which is a compact purpose-built resort, hides its modernity well, its buildings hugging the steep terraces. Nightlife is lively, starting late and extending until dawn.
Skiing on the mountain is split into six linked areas in three valleys, mostly above the tree line. There is little protection, and the area is susceptible to high winds, which can be bitterly cold. Come March or April the temperatures rises, and with the sun shining Sierra Nevada can provide great skiing in short sleeves.
Unless you’re a beginner there is probably not enough to occupy a full week’s holiday. But for a long weekend or three-day break it’s perfect. And if you’re on the coast for a spring break, it’s well worth a day trip. You can hire ski suits at the resort.
Longest runFive kilometres.
Best runOlímpica. This easy red starts under the Valeta peak and skirts along the ridge of the mountain. On one side is a view of the rolling plains of Andalusia; on the other are the Mediterranean, the Strait of Gibraltar and the snow-capped Atlas Mountains in Morocco. Unique.
Season lengthMid December to mid April.
Snow reliability ***
Who goesExpats lazing on the coast pop up from time to time, but mostly the resort is used by Spaniards on short breaks.
Value €€€Although eating out in Spain is good value, prices in the resort are higher. Better to stay in Granada, a much more interesting nightspot with the best tapas bars in Spain.
Insider tipsPradollano nightlife doesn’t start until after 11pm, so the resort stays quiet until lunchtime. Rise early and you’ll have the mountain to yourself.
Tour operatorsNone. Ryanair and Aer Lingus fly to Malaga. Onlinecetursa.com.
The snow has been so perfect over the past two seasons that soon the grim mid-decade droughts will become almost legend. No great changes for this week: all the main European resorts are fully open and still receiving fresh dustings in the low temperatures. The only blot is the Lebanese resorts. Typically operational by now, they are having a torrid time, with unseasonably warm weather preventing even the snow cannons being used.
Snow-forecast.com provides free forecasts for more than 2,200 resorts around the world. You can check the snow at 250 or so popular resorts on Skiclub.co.uk, or have a peek at your mountain of choice on Snoweye.com.
It’s the quirky little products that sometimes capture attention. Some clever snowheads identified the frustration with those paper piste maps that rip easily, become soggy or are impossible to open with gloves or in a strong wind. Wipeout has printed the maps on the material you wipe your glasses or goggles lens with. So you now have a waterproof, easily stored foldable map (left) that doubles as a lens cleaner. Wipeout maps are available for 10 popular resorts, including Chamonix and Avoriaz. On sale for £7.50 (€8.75) via wipe-out.eu.
Get your skates on
A week’s snow-sure glacial skiing, staying in self-catering apartments in Kaprun, in Austria, has been cut to €399 from March 20th with Directski. As well as its own extensive ski area, the resort is only a 15-minute free bus ride from Zell am See, with its lakeside setting, wooden pistes and renowned mountain taverns. directski.com.
Fancy a new career? You can train to qualify as a ski or snowboard instructor with the Irish Association of Snowsports Instructors (iasisnowsports.ie).
Level 1 courses are taught and assessed on the Ski Club of Ireland’s dry slope at Kilternan, in Co Dublin; after that you need to take to the Alps. As they’re recognised in many other countries, the qualifications allow instructors to teach worldwide. Also, an Irish company in Andorra, Pro Ski Training (proskitraining. com) runs intensive residential courses.