During a quick getaway for a day of skiing in the Pyrénées, my friend suggested that rather than head to Ax 3 Domaines in Ax-les-Thermes, we go a bit further toward a small station called Ascou. I had never heard of Ascou, but I was game to try something different.
Ax-les-Thermes in the Ariège Departement is home to Ax 3 Domaines, a large ski station that is one of my favorites in the Pyrénées. But as we entered Ax on this Saturday morning in January, we could see that the streets were already clogged with cars and people renting skis for the weekend. So continuing on to Ascou seemed like an even better idea.
Ascou is another 14 km from Ax, taking us up a windy mountain road past the namesake village to the ski station. Among the advantages, we parked close to the ticket window and were ready to hit the slopes within about 15 minutes of arriving. And the liftpass for a day was only €24.50.
As for the slopes, there are 17 ski runs (pistes), and we were fortunate there had been just enough snowfall so that almost all were open.
More challenging for me was the ski lift situation.
Ascou has one proper ski lift that I could sit on. Then it has 5 téléskis, which are the poles you grab between your legs and sort of half-sit on as they pull you up the hill. I had never ridden one before moving to France, and I still have trouble with them. But I suppose one must face one’s fears, and so spending a whole day using téléskis made me considerably less awkward on them (despite falling twice on the most difficult one).
But that was just a minor inconvenience. The slopes were almost empty, leaving us plenty of room and making it easy to pack in lots of runs without long waits the lifts. In fact, by mid-afternoon we were exhausted from almost continuous skiing.
In all, Ascou made for a perfect one-day ski trip, certainly well worth the diversion from our original plans.