Open, even if it is minimal. The Constitution and Immaculate Bridge is much more than the starting signal for skiing. The change in fan habits, which years ago marked this first week of December on the calendar for the premiere of the season, forces the stations - to please their audience - to this early curtain raiser, whether they have more or less snow in your instalations.
Something unthinkable decades ago, without so much snow production, when the tradition in skiing – this also happened in the Alps – was to open doors after Christmas.
As the oldest people in the Pyrenees repeat, “the snow, the real rainfall, has always arrived in these mountains well into the month of December.”
So until the technology of snowmaking with snow production cannons arrived, it never occurred to any ski entrepreneur – except in very exceptional years – to consider opening the season at the beginning of December and, much less, at the end of November.
There are dozens of Inmaculada and Constitución bridges where skiing has opened with very little snow, or simply has not been able to do so, as has happened this year in Aragon.
This was already happening when the debate on climate change was the preserve of a few and not a worrying and proven reality, as it is now. This year everything also takes on another dimension when the implementation of cannons that produce snow with water is questioned from an environmental perspective, when 2023 will go down in history as the driest year since there are records.
So opening the first week of December with this panorama, even half, is more news than ever. Skiing has once again benefited from what is known in the industry as “surgical snowfall.” They are those precipitations that arrive at the right time, when they are most needed.
This is what happened to this bridge. The snow that has fallen in recent days, although fair, has allowed all Catalan resorts to open doors for the bridge; fulfill that wish or requirement of skiers who do not want to wait, as in the past, after Christmas to start the season.
Between all the Catalan resorts, around 120 kilometers of slopes are offered. Half in Baqueira-Beret, a resort through which around 15,000 skiers passed on Thursday. Yesterday, with a unpleasant day due to a new storm that will help increase thickness, the influx dropped to 10,000 visitors.
Xavi Ubeira, commercial director of the Aranese resort, does not hide his satisfaction with these numbers at the beginning of the season with less snow than desired.
What is repeated, that joy, among the hotel sector located at the foot of the slopes, where the full sign has been posted in many establishments.
In the case of the Lleida Pyrenees and thanks to the opening of the ski resorts – although in some resorts, at minimum levels – hotel occupancy is around 90% in this second phase of the bridge. The mountain once again wins over the rest of the offers for this getaway. Great news for the economy of the regions of that mountain range.
In Cerdanya, with the Molina and Masella stations open, occupancy for this week is around 80%, a figure that is forecast to increase for the Christmas holidays.
Cross-country skiing, without the support of the snow produced, has not, however, been so lucky. These complexes are open for mountain activities and, while waiting for the latest rainfall, yesterday only the Tuixent-la Vansa resort (Alt Urgell) was open for Nordic skiing.
This bridge has also been able to open, on the other hand, all the resorts in Andorra, with an offer that exceeds 100 kilometers of slopes suitable for skiing. Occupancy, in the neighboring country, is also very high in the accommodations located at the foot of these complexes.