Winter sun at Sierra Nevada

Today's post aims to give you an insight into why Sierra Nevada in Granada is so highly regarded as both a top quality ski resort and a great winter sun destination, as well as providing the current skiing conditions for the upcoming - and very popular - bank holiday weekend in Spain.

I'm going to start with an anecdote. Every year, without fail, a close friend of mine makes the same argument for why Sierra Nevada offers the best skiing experience compared to anywhere else he’s ever been. The conversation goes as follows:

Friend: “Have you ever been to Sierra Nevada?”
Me: “Yes. I told you last year. And the year before that…”
Friend: “Well, what was the weather like?” (He asks, knowing the answer to his own question)
Me: “It was…”
Friend: (interjects) “Sunny, not a cloud in the sky and warm. That’s what the weather was like.”
Me: “Yeah, I suppose you’re right.”
Friend: “You can go skiing in a t-shirt and shorts if you want. And you can even get a suntan. Where else have you ever skied where the quality of snow has been so good and the weather so warm?”
Me: “Good point…”

And he’s right. In spite of the delivery of the speech – let’s face it, that’s what it is, albeit with a few rhetorical questions thrown in there to give it some semblance of a two-way conversation – being exactly the same every year, the point he makes is spot on.

Best of both worlds

Sierra Nevada is like taking all the advantages of the Mediterranean climate and fusing them with the benefits of partaking in winter sports. It is for this reason that it is regarded by many as Spain’s best ski resort.

Its huge popularity is more than matched by its facilities, boasting (as well it may) parking for almost 4,000 cars onsite and ski lifts capable of transporting up to 45,207 skiers per hour! There are also 15 different ski schools and 400 resident instructors, while there is even a night skiing option at certain times during the season.

If you’re lucky enough to live on the Costa del Sol, you’ll find the lift pass ticket booth in Pradollano to be a nice and round two-hour drive from central Málaga, or two hours and 25 minutes if you’re setting off from Marbella.

This means it is more than feasible to go up and back in a day. However, I’d advise making a weekend of it and visiting nearby Granada which, as far as I’m concerned, is one of the most beautiful cities in all of Andalucía and is an obligatory day trip for anyone living permanently on the Costa del Sol.

2019/20 ski season

Since the re-opening of the ski station less than two weeks ago on 23rd November, the winter season is now well underway at Sierra Nevada.

At the time of writing, 51 of the resort’s 131 slopes and 11 of its 21 ski lifts are open, offering visitors 40.56km of skiable mountain over a surface area of 151 hectares and an altitude of 1,100 metres.

More good news is that the ski station has been incredibly busy in the off-season and has invested a staggering nine million euros in improvements to the resort as a whole, including the purchase of 33 of the latest and most efficient snow gun machines.

Bank holiday weekend

And this is just as well, because this coming weekend is of particular interest for any skiers and snowboarders visiting or living and working in Spain.

Yes, that’s right, it’s a monster four-day weekend. National holidays tomorrow (Friday 6th December) and on Sunday (8th December), which has been moved to Monday in the interest of not losing out on a public holiday opportunity, mean hundreds of families will christen this winter 2019/20 season with their first runs at Sierra Nevada.

There’s currently a snow coverage of between 20cm and 80cm, depending on where you are on the mountain, and there is due to be plenty of fresh powder this weekend. The standout day for weather looks to be Sunday, with the best visibility, clear sun all day and highs of 6 degrees Celsius.

Personal experience

As you might have gathered from my blogs, I am a sporty person and would best describe myself as a Jack of all trades: a trier.

And the same extends to winter sports. I have no illusions of grandeur on the slopes and would class myself as an average snowboarder, having navigated my way down mountains in the USA, Oslo (Norway), Garmisch-Partenkirchen (Germany), Borovets (Bulgaria), the outskirts of Madrid and Sierra Nevada (Spain) to date.

But what I would say is that each of these locations offers something slightly different. From the challenges you face on the slopes to the quality and thickness of the powder and even the types of resort at each destination, you’re guaranteed a new experience wherever you go. And that, I think, is the beauty of this sport and why fanatics travel far and wide to conquer new mountains every season.

In the case of Sierra Nevada, it’s clear that the intense winter sun and proliferation of “bluebird days” is a strong attraction. I must say, I was certainly blessed with great weather the day I went and it made the trip really memorable.

So memorable, in fact, that I could do without my friend spinning the same yarn every twelve months. But obviously I'll keep schtum.

For more info including weather reports, latest information about lift closures and pricing, visit the official Sierra Nevada website