XC Skiing for Beginners and Improvers :: Essential Information
Last Updated on Monday, 26 November 2012 16:50
Where do We Stay
During this cross-country skiing holiday we stay in the family run 2 star Hotel Terminus, which provides us with a comfortable base for the week. Alain and Elizabeth offer a warm welcome in their lovely hotel. They are proud to serve up delicious evening meals using meat and vegetables from local producers. The rooms are large and all have a window overlooking the river Ariège. The hotel is a 5 minute walk from the centre of Ax les Thermes, opposite the railway station. Each room has an en-suite bathroom, free WIFI and a television. The kitchen produces excellent authentic Pyrenean dishes and the wood fire in the hotel bar sets the scene for a warming mug of 'vin chaude' at the end of the days XC skiing.
Food and Meals
Breakfast: Continental style breakfasts are provided by the hotel. We supplement these with cereals and 'ready brek'.
Lunches: These are not included so you can choose your own diet while skiing. There are excellent restaurants serving soups, salads, pasta etc. in both ski areas or you can make up your own picnic from the many bakeries and the epicierie in town.
Dinner: 6 evenings meals will be taken together in the hotel restaurant and normally consist of 3 generous courses of local French specialities. On the Wednesday evening you are free to try out one of the many French or international cuisine restaurants in town (we provide a restaurant guide to help you choose where to go).
Special diets: The Hotel Terminus is very used to providing excellent meals for vegetarians and coeliacs. Please contact us if you have any other special dietary requirements.
Throughout the holiday you are transferred to and from the xc skiing areas in our 2 private minibus'. Our Marmot Tours Team have lots of experience of driving in snowy conditions. The buses are naturally fitted with snow tyres and snow chains are carried. Each day we transfer 30 to 45mins depending on snow conditions on the road.
Cross Country Ski Hire
XC Ski / boot / pole hire is not included in the cost of the holiday so that you can hire the type and quality of kit that you desire, or you can bring your own with you. You can also try out different skis/boots as the week progresses. We are very lucky to have a dedicated cross-country ski hire shop with an excellent selection of equipment. Classic XC ski hire starts at €49 per week, including boots and poles. The classic xc skis have a 'fishscale grip' with NNN (Rossignol/Rotterfella) bindings which are not compatible with SNS boots. Good quality skating ski hire starts at €79 per week, including boots and poles (and a set of classic cross-country skis are included in the price). It is not necessary to pre book skis and boots.
If you are keen on buying any xc ski clothing or equipment while you are out here, then there is a very good outdoor clothing and gear shop in Ax-les-Thermes, 200 meters from our hotel - see Telemark Pyrenees (external website).
Bringing your own kit:
You are welcome bring your own cross-country skis on this holiday. However, the cross-country ski areas are not suitable for wide skis with metal edges and 3 pin bindings. Grip-wax cross-country skis can be used but are not recommended (apart from in December and January) due to range of snow temperatures that can be experienced within one day.
Marmot Tours has a mobile ski waxing stand which we can set up at the hotel each evening. You are welcome to borrow all our kit (iron, brushes, scrapers etc), but will need to provide your own consumables (wax).
Climate / Snow Conditions
This part of the Pyrenees generally has more snow for a longer season than further West. Also the proximity to the Mediterranean gives us longer sunnier days. On the slopes we can expect anything from -10 to +20, while in Ax-les-Thermes it very rarely gets below freezing.
What to Bring
Cross-country skiing can be fairly energetic, so you will need lots of layers, ending in a windproof shell. You will need to be able to carry some water with you while you are skiing. One of the joys of skiing in the Pyrenees is that even in January we are skiing in temperatures over 12°C, so you do not get cold when you stop. You will be sent a link to our suggested packing list with your final joining instructions, sent out a week or so before your trip. For information before this time, please see our Before You Go Section of the website
There is an official rest day during this holiday, on Day 4 of the trip, but you are invited to take it easy whenever suits you,or to try alternative activities available in the area. Ax has a good downhill ski stations. All the ski areas have marked snowshoe trails and Snowshoes can be borrowed free of charge from Marmot Tours. At several of the stations you could try dogsledding or paragliding. Relaxing is always an option!