From the last moments of Summer last week to the depths of Winter this....time to pack away the shorts and dust off the snowshoes!
Over the last 3 winters we have enjoyed amazing snowy days in the Pyrenees using our snowshoes. Of course there are some rudimental lessons to learn on how to attach & use snowshoes, but in essence you can begin to enjoy the trails and wide open snowfields in a matter of minutes. The importance of general safety in the mountains is obviously always paramount, especially the threat of avalanches.
However, the easiest way to start is to choose one of the Nordic ski areas in Ariege, such as Plateau de Beille in the picture above. Access by road is good, you can hire equipment and follow well-marked trails in complete safety. Hire and piste access is about 20 Euros per person for the day. A quieter alternative that provides the same facilities in a beautiful location is the Etang de Lers, just beyond Massat.
There are a number of great places to go off-piste around the Foix area in particular. A guide is recommended though.
We will post here some of our snowshoeing trips this winter....watch this space!
In the meantime, if you are interested in having a go at snowshoeing, please do contact us if you have any quesions?
There are cheap flights to Toulouse & Carcassonne. Plateau de Beille is about 1.45 hours south of Toulouse. We can provide accommodation & advice on guides, equipment & locations.
With the weather as we are currently experiencing, the answer is a resounding YES! But to be fair, the long 'Indian Summer' of Oct & Nov 2015 has been exceptional, even this far south, in the Ariege. And also it depends on your interests; swimming lakes are a bit chilly at this time of the year, although sitting on a sheltered lakeside 'beach' is still very warm & pleasant. For skiers the opening of pistes must still seem a long way off but in reality the Ariege slopes will, in all likelihood, be open in a few short weeks, by mid-December. That is the unpredictability of the Pyrenees. Indeed, we had the first high snows yesterday. It can snow in any month on the highest peaks.
The Pyrenees winters tend to be short but cold in Jan & Feb. There has been a lot of snow in each of the last 3 winters with skiing continuing into Apr. Spring can emerge from mid-Feb; temperatures of 20+ are not uncommon in Mar. Summers are long & hot, generally mid-30 degrees. But the problem there in lies that the mountains generate storms mid-afternoon on most summer days. With so much snow accumulating each winter, the high mountain passes & paths are closed well into June and crossing the Pyrenees safely without the hindrance of old, compact snow is not possible much before the end of July. High-level snow, as mentioned, usually returns by mid-Oct. So, if you are seeking the heights, above 2000m, to climb and walk in warmth but not extreme heat, then Sep through until early Nov is a wonderful period to visit. For those not necessarily seeking the higher altitudes, but tranquility, a bit of history & culture, some fine cuisine and a warm sun on your back then, yes the Ariege is at its' very best in the Autumn! That said, there are strong arguments in favour of each of the Seasons. I will make those other arguments undoubtedly as time passes!