With the perfect snow conditions we’ve got in the Pyrenees at the moment we’ve headed to the ski resort of Astun a couple of times in January – once on my own and once with the kids. Astun is in the Valle de Aragon, north of Jaca, right on the French/Spanish border.
I’ve never skied there before and have always wanted to. It’s got a reputation for being steeper and harder than Formigal and was keen to give it a go. I’m glad we did – it’s a great resort and we had great fun!
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I’d always had the impression that Astun was in a bit of a closed valley with not many views but how wrong I was. The views from the top were fantastic. Great vistas across to the northern faces of Pico Aspe and it’s neighbours and also down onto the famous Canfranc railway station. You could see across to the Valle de Tena with Pico Anayet particularly prominent.
There were only a couple of chairlifts open as there were a lot less people than normal, but that still gave a good choice of pistes and plenty of kilometres to ski for a day. The runs were nice and long and you couldn’t have wished for better conditions. It’s not only snowed a lot, the temperatures have also been very cold (-8 when I left the house!) so the powder is light and fluffy. It’s definitely true that the pistes are in general steeper than in Formigal – I was glad that it was friendly conditions and not icy! When I checked my GPS at the end of the day my top speed had been 90 km/h which scared me a bit! There are plenty of off piste options too, but as I was on my own and the resort was pretty empty I didn’t investigate these too much – didn’t want to get myself in trouble stranded on my own!
The kids enjoyed a lovely long blue run that we did repeatedly. It started with a couple of steepish sections and then finished with a section that ran along the bottom of a little valley. This part had lots of slopes and little jumps at the side of the pistes that the kids just loved playing on. They like to use the poles marking the pistes as slalom poles and are much more comfortable on the uneven snow than I am! Christopher is always trying to do little jumps – I can’t imagine what he’ll be like when he’s older.
Sadly, Astun is the only ski resort currently open in the Aragonese Pyrenees. We usually ski at Formigal or Panticosa in the Valle de Tena as they’re our nearest resorts, but with the restrictions on movement in Spain at the moment neither are open. It’s an expensive business to open a ski resort and maintain the pistes and the big resorts just can’t attract enough skiers to make them viable at the moment. Astun is a bit smaller and relies a lot more on local skiers and has been able to open at least a part of the resort and pistes.
They were two great days on the slopes and I’d definitely like to go back and explore when all of the lifts are open – there looked some great pistes that we couldn’t do. I’m really pleased that the resort has made the effort to open – there is a little line of restaurants, bars and ski hire shops that all have at least some business in these difficult times.