Formigal ski resort
Formigal is one of Spain’s three largest ski areas with slopes spread over four valleys – in fact, it claims to be the country’s largest, although its competitors may disagree.
Unusually, the resort itself is not located centrally, but instead is within the most westerly of the valleys. This means skiers move progressively further away from the resort and 6km (4 miles) east towards the French border as they travel further through the ski area. Slopes here are largely north facing, making snow cover more reliable than some neighbouring resorts.
Like its fellow leading Spanish ski areas Baqueira-Beret and Sierra Nevada, Aramón Formigal – to use its official name – dates back to the 1960s, although there were skiers here a decade earlier. Despite being mostly purpose built, from an era when concrete block construction was the norm, Formigal is a relatively attractive resort, with buildings clad in local stone creating a traditional ambience in the centre.
The resort’s ski offering has been extensively modernised in recent years, in particular with the addition of Spain’s first eight-seater chairlift that replaced an old gondola known lovingly by locals as ‘The Egg.’ There are also long-term plans to complete a lift link to the nearest major ski resort neighbours a few kilometres away: Astún and Candanchú.
Formigal is located in the upper Tena Valley of northeastern Spain’s Aragon Pyrenees mountains. The ski area is close to the French border, near the town of Sallent de Gallego in the province of Huesca.
On the slopes
Formigal claims to be Spain’s largest ski area and it certainly offers an excellent mix of terrain with nearly 150 runs that are neatly split between beginner, intermediate and expert levels. The resort is a great place for accomplished skiers as it offers over 40 black-graded runs plus five off piste itinerary routes – a tally not matched by even some of the biggest resorts in the Alps.
For almost all guests, the day begins with a shuttle bus to the slopes. The nearest bus stop is around 500m (1,640ft) from the edge of the resort, but there are multiple entry points along the border road to France, so you can drive or take the bus and start in any of half a dozen different spots.
The runs are fairly well distributed right across the four valleys, so relative beginners and accomplished experts can ski right across the 6km-wide (4 miles) ski area from valley to valley and stick to terrain that suits their standard.
The closest base to Formigal village is Zona Sextas, where the resort’s two terrain parks can be found. This is also the place to head for night skiing and it has direct access to the freeride area and the launch pad for the resort’s heliskiing operation.
Another fun option is the boardercross trail for beginners on the Furco slope, which has 600m (1,970ft) of banks and small jumps to explore.