Sierra Nevada ski resort
About Sierra Nevada
Sierra Nevada stands alone, miles from any other ski area, and high above the Mediterranean and the historic city of Granada. Its location is quite something, especially on a crowded continent like Europe where you can typically see half a dozen or more other ski centres from any given slope.
The most southerly major resort in Europe, Sierra Nevada, meaning “snow capped mountain range”, certainly lives up to this name, generally enjoying a 5m to 6m (16ft to 20ft) snow base – one of the deepest in Europe – by early spring, meaning the resort can stay open until the start of May.
The resort was created in the late 1960s at the same time a wave of ugly new high-altitude, purpose-built resorts in the Pyrenees and the Alps were being erected. However, the ski area has seen constant development over the years and now boasts an eclectic selection of accommodation options from 5-star boutiques to handy ski-in/ski-out bed and breakfasts.
On the slopes Sierra Nevada has pleasingly followed the Japanese and North American model of investing in chair and gondola lifts, rather than countless drags. From the lifts, skiers can look out to the Andalusian beaches below, which are just a 45-minute drive away should you get sick of the snow.
Sierra Nevada is located within the provinces of Granada and Almería in Spain’s southernmost mainland region, Andalusia. The area is also home to the highest point of mainland Spain (Mulhacén at 3,478m/11,411ft), which has the cities of Granada and Almería on its foothills. The ski slopes are located within the Sierra Nevada National Park.
Sierra NevadaResort Elevation: 1202m
Top Elevation: 3305m
Base Elevation: 1202m
On the slopes
Sierra Nevada's 105km (65 miles) of runs are for the most part easy to intermediate, and are wide and fast, providing excellent conditions for those who just want to zip around the mountain. Complete beginners can make the most of the dedicated area up by the Borreguiles mountain restaurants, where several different ski schools compete to provide the best service.
Despite having staged world-class alpine skiing events, the options for advanced skiers are fairly limited, with a small choice of black runs. However, many of the runs were laid out by international resort designers and include some slopes pitching at up to around 30 degrees – the Monachil sector is challenging, and a steep run down from Valeta II to Borreguiles is regarded as one of the most demanding descents in Spain.
For added variety, almost every type of snow sports facility is available on Sierra Nevada's slopes. There is, for example, a parallel slalom course, a ski-cross course and a terrain park for snowboarders and freestyle skiers with a big range of jumps and rails. Additionally, there are 5km (3 miles) of cross-country tracks to explore.
It's possible to be first on the slopes on Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings before the lifts open to the public by taking the Al-Andalus gondola with a guide. There's a small fee for this and it must be booked in advance (tel: +34 902 708 090).