French friends had often spoken of the delights of skiing in the Aiguestortes in the Catalan Pyrenees and when Paul suggested an early season tour it seemed worth investigating further. Thanks to the internet I found a guidebook and a 'coffee table' book on ski mountaineering in the Pyrenees and plans began to form. Mid February and we met at Barcelona airport and drove to Salardu in Val d'Aran in a hire car (there is a bus but the times were not very convenient).
After a pleasant night at the roadside Refugi Rosta we awoke to a snowy day and the drive towards Banhs de Tredòs carpark was 'interesting' but as we skinned up towards the Refugi de Colomèrs the weather improved and the next 6 days were superb.
From the refuge we followed a shortened version of the 'Alta ruta' described in the guide staying in the Refugi dera Restanca, Refugi Joan Ventosa i Cávell, Refugi de Estany Llong and the Refugi d'Amitges. In retrospect it would have beenbetter to have skied straight from the summit of Montardo (2833m) to Ventosa i Cávell as the descent from the Bretxa de Peyta (2765m) was unpleasant and lacked snow for the final section - the only time we had to walk all week. None of the many guided parties went this way. Highlights of the week were the descents from the summits of Montardo and Punta Alta (3015m), the later with the guardian of the Refugi Joan Ventosa i Cávell, a member of the Spanish telemark team. The food in the huts was very good, better than usually found in the Alps and definitely more copious.
Recommended for a early season tour, worth being out of step with the guided groups who allseem to meet at Restanca on Sundays.
Party: Paul & Sue Fraser (alpine) & Doug Evans (nordic)
Broch, M & Gregori, FX (1999) Excursiones con esquís por el Parque Nacional de Aiguestortes i Estany de Sant Maurici.
Faura, E & Longás, J (1999) Pirineos en esquís - 150 itinerarios para esquí de montana (2nd edition).
Parque Nacional de Aiguestortes i Estany de Sant Maurici, (1997). 1:25 000 published by the Institut Cartográfic de Catalunya (difficult to find but sold in most of the huts, vastly superior to the maps by Editorial Alpina).
http://www.aranweb.com/ has links to huts, transport, snowconditions, etc.