News from the snow
Sierra Nevada Spain
Generally regarded as Spain's top ski resort, Sierra Nevada stands alone in the Penibetic mountain range in Andalucia, far from the country's other 30 or so ski areas, the majority of which are located 'up' in the Pyrenées. Once known as 'Sol-y-Nieve' or 'Sun and snow', the resort endeavours to offer the best of both worlds - sunshine and snow - the combination of latitude, altitude and a state-of-the-art snow making system usually allow it to pull this seemingly impossible trick off successfully. It is Europe´s southernmost ski resort, wonderfully close to Spain's famous Mediterranean beach resorts but located by the Iberian peninsula´s highest summits. Sierra Nevada's 'resort´ village', Pradollano is one of Europe's highest, at an altitude of 2,100 meters. The resort is famous for staging the World Alpine Skiing Championships in 1996 after the event had to be cancelled when it was due to be staged there a year before because of lack of snow. Since then the resort has invested still further in its snow-making system, considered Spain´s largest and one of Europe's best such facilities. Even in the case of a complete lack of snowfall, Sierra Nevada can now guarantee the opening of the resort thanks to its excellent snow-making system. The number of guns have doubled, to 200 cannons, 13 low pressure and 187 high pressure units producing nearly 2000 cubic meters of snow per hour on 14 runs. The village area has been greatly upgraded with new alpine-style buildings and environmental improvement scheme. This is good news as the resort was a rather characterless mix of concrete rectangular blocks during its first decades of operation. One of the best assets of the resort is a remarkable underground parking complex with a capacity of 2,880 vehicles. Another is the excellent indoor sports facility providing high altitude athletic training. The resort's Pradollano village offers a variety of services including quality hotels in a range of categories which include jacuzzi, squash, workout areas, sauna, indoor swimming pools, convention and meeting rooms, ski lodges, restaurants featuring local Andalusian and international cuisine, sundecks, night clubs, pubs and bars, discotheques etc. There is also a new medical centre, child day-care centre, banks with ATM´s, supermarkets, sports and fashion boutiques. The resort works closely with Spain's Environmental Agency and the University of Granada has designed a complete programme to protect and preserve Sierra Nevada´s extraordinary wealth, including its geomorphology, landscape, flora and fauna. The area was declared a Biospherical Reserve by UNESCO in 1986. More than two thousand trees of different sizes have been introduced or transplanted throughout the village area. Sierra Nevada was the first European ski resort to introduce the 'green ski pass' to its environmental programme. Three per cent of income received from the sale of ski passes goes towards ecological matters.
Spain's highest lifts and resort, and site of the 1996 Ski World Championships following a huge investment in infrastructure improvements. Purpose built in the 1960s and '70s, facilities include underground car-parking and a high altitude training camp.
Beginners can make their first turns on the nursery slopes by the Borreguiles mountain restaurants. Three enthusiastic ski schools operate on the Borreguiles beginners area, Escuela Española de Esqui, Escuela Oficial de Esqui and Escuela Internacional.
For intermediate and advanced skier's the ski area's highlights are undoubtedly the courses which were those used in the World Alpine Ski Championships of 1996. Although the options are not unlimited because this is only a medium sized ski area there are some exciting runs on the Monachil area as well as the steep descent from the top of Valeta II back down to Borreguiles - one of Spain's toughest runs. The resort is also proud to offer all manner of snow sports in addition to traditional Alpine downhill and 'boarding. These include cross-country skiing, artistic skiing (ballet, jumps, moguls), telemark skiing, trekking and adventure skiing. Sierra Nevada also provides ski rental services.
Located in the Al-Andalus upper gondola station is the Rossignol Test Centre where one will find sunscreen, sunglasses, ski rental, a checkroom for storing personal objects and the famous Rossignol brand skis.
A skier information centre is located in Borreguiles in the control tower (Torre de Control), where the ski area crew may be notified in case of emergency.
International cuisine available including French crèperies and croissanteries, Italian pizzerias and a Turkish restaurant.
The slopeside Borreguiles, one of four mountain restaurants is one of the more highly regarded.
Popular bars (from a choice of about 30) include Crescendo, Vaya, and Chimenea. Most popular of the two night clubs is Sierra Nevada 53.
The majority of the ski lifts are chairs and gondolas so this is a particularly easy ski area, by European standards, to get about in.
Off the slopes the resort has specialised snowboarding shops and schools.