Cross Country skiing Holiday :: Beginners and Improvers
Last Updated on Tuesday, 08 October 2013 15:07
"A flexible week aimed at beginners and intermediates wanting try out or progress in this excellent winter activity."
This week of cross-country skiing aimed at beginners and intermediate skiers using either classic or skating techniques. During the holiday we stay in the thermal spa town of Ax-Les Thermes which gives us access to two largest cross-country skiing areas in the Pyrenees, with over 120 km of well-maintained trails to explore. Being so far south, we are blessed with long sunny days but as the resorts are located on high plateaux we still have reliable snow cover with the bonus of dramatic mountain views at every corner. Consequently this region provides the experienced skier with a suitable alternative to Scandinavia, and the novice the perfect terrain and climate for taking up this fantastic sport.
During the holiday you will be looked after by Marmot Tours director, James Thompson (SSE XC Instructor), who will facilitate all arrangements and offer instruction for both beginners and improvers. James will be assisted by a 2nd guide for the first 3 days of the holiday, enabling us to offer guided ski-tours at different standards throughout the week. Naturally there is the option to ski independently if that is your preference.
Our base for this holiday is the popular thermal spa town of Ax-les-Thermes. The charming town centre is only a 5 mins walk from our hotel giving us access to a full range of the shops, restaurants and lively bars. With its luxury roman baths and spa facilities, you are not going to be short of après ski activities. Ax is linked by cable car to the extensive down hill ski station of Ax-Bonascre, giving the option of downhill skiing or self guided snowshoeing on any day of this holiday.
If you are an intermediate or experienced cross-country skier who wants to travel some distance and explore a larger area of the Pyrenees, or an experienced skier then you may be more interested in our Nordic Highlights holidays.
What is Cross Country Skiing All About?
This fantastic activity allows you to get a real buzz from exploring the stunning mountain landscapes in the winter. What is great is its flexibility - you can potter around the pistes at your own pace, enjoying the tranquillity and views, or you can push yourself hard and love the exercise of it all. What is more, it is not a difficult sport to learn to do, and with a week of informal instruction, you will find you make huge improvements and can really 'travel' some distance to explore the furthest corners of the skiable mountains.
If you are a complete beginner and know nothing at all about the activity, or want a reminder about the types of cross-country skiing and what you might need for it, you may find it useful to have a quick read of our xc skiing article, which explains a bit more about how the sport works, the equipment etc. This will give you a better idea about whether you think it might be for you (we know it will be!). Do not hesitate to contact us with any questions you might have regarding the sport generally or our holidays in particular.
Guiding and Instruction
The flexible nature of this week makes it suitable for both beginners and experienced classic cross-country skiers as well as those wanting to progress with or try out the skating technique. We offer supreme flexibility so that you get all the benefits of being in a mixed skill group (meeting others, having a laugh, teaming up with people at your level), with none of the disadvantages (feeling like you are slowing the group down, feeling like you have gone back to school, being out of your depth or conversely being held back by others in the group!)
Although guided skis tours (with informal instruction) are offered every day, they are not compulsory, so you are free to ski as much or as little as your aspirations and physical ability allow. If you and your partner are of different standards then this trip is perfect for you as there is bound to be someone in the group after a similar experience to yourself.
Beginners: You will receive a formal lesson on the first morning to help you master the basic xc techniques. In the afternoon you will go on a ski tour with our 2nd guide to give you an opportunity to put into practice what you have leant. For the rest of the week James will offer informal tips and exercises on a one to one basis tailored to your individual needs, ensuring you can progress at your own rate whilst still giving you the chance to tour the cross-country ski areas.
Improvers: On the first morning you will have a chance to get back into the swing of things with our 2nd guide. During the afternoon James will give a refresher of the basics and offer a few pointers on an individual basis. This style of informal tuition will continue thought the holiday to fine tune your technique and hopefully make your skiing more efficient and enjoyable.
Skating: James will offer skaters with one or more weeks experience a rolling program of instruction throughout the holiday and offer various exercises tailored to your level. People wanting to try skating for the first time are encouraged to hire a local French instructor for an hour (at extra cost).
Both cross-country ski domains that we use (Plateau de Beille and Chioula) during this holiday are easy to orientate around, allowing us to run this week so flexibly. Within a couple of days you will have a feel for where you are going so can then have the confidence to head off independently to either get some km's under your belt, or to practice some of the cross-country skiing techniques you have just learnt. James will suggest various routes for various members of the group, depending on your skills, and you will be sure to find others in the group at a similar level, and with similar aspirations to yourself.
We include a rest day in our weeks holiday itinerary so that you can, as it suggests, rest up for a day. For the complete relaxation you would enjoy the New Roman Baths. However there are lots of other local activities such as downhill skiing or snowshoeing, or do a spot of sightseeing.
Winter 2013/14 Dates and Prices
Due to personal circumstances, Marmot Tours is not running corss country skiing holidays during the 2013/14 winter. However if you are still keen to enjoy the area and are already a skier, thus not needing lessons, you may want to get in touch with Debbie and Gary Devine who run Pyrenees Haven, a Bed and Breakfast in the valley of Ax (with evening meals available) and transfers up to the ski stations of Beille and Chioula.