Sierra Nevada – top-class skiing
The Mediterranean sun is shining. It’s eight degrees in the hotel village, twenty down in the town. Up at the lifts’ highest mountain station, more than 3300m above sea level, however, winter is in full swing and the sign warning that the piste is for advanced skiers only is there for a reason. The piste has a sharp incline and it’s a 1200m drop in altitude back to the village. The lactic acid will be eating at your legs.
The ski resort is so far south that on a clear day you can see all the way to Morocco’s Rif Mountains. In the opposite direction, Granada sprawls across a green-brown plateau, with a university founded in 1531 and a palace that marks the culmination of 800 years of Islamic high culture. In other directions, the mountains unfold into a national park. Almond trees burst into pink blossom in March and yellow broom shrubs line the road between the town and the mountains.
Sierra Nevada is big. After a whole weekend, there are still pistes we haven’t had time to try. According to the lift company, the total piste length is 105km. That’s a figure comparable to Åre, albeit in a cohesive and far more compact system with a significantly greater drop in altitude. Sierra Nevada is a textbook example of the benefits of a constructed ski resort. The piste design here hasn’t had to rely on chance or bow to the whims of individual landowners, and the decision-makers have undoubtedly been good skiers. Very few ski resorts in the world have exploited conditions so well.
Just like Åre, Sierra Nevada has also organized World Cup competitions and Alpine World Ski Championships. The competition area takes in a series of pitch-black cliffs, where recreational skiers try to understand how anyone at all would want to be the fastest in the world. You lose interest in the answer the moment you realize that your chosen piste seems to be temporarily your own private property.
Sierra Nevada boasts 250 days of sunshine and the ability to ski in the morning and swim in the Mediterranean in the afternoon. It’s only a 1.5-hour drive to the nearest playa. The sun is as high in March as at midsummer and you’ll need sun cream with the maximum protection factor, but the water is terribly cold.
Text: Gunnar Andersson