Road to the Sky & Snow…

Taking advantage of the time difference between Scotland and California for an early morning start on Saturday, getting up at 4.45am and trundling all the luggage across the street from the Millbrae Travelodge near SF International Airport and jumping on the BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit System) at 5.45am.

 

Traversed across the full length of the BART Network from Millbrae in the South to Richmond in the NE to join the Amtrak Capital Corridor’s service to Sacramento the state Capitol and their onwards coach link to South Lake Tahoe. The BART is a whole lot more luggage friendly than the tube and a couple of lifts down then up is all thats needed to transfer from BART to Amtrak at Richmond Interchange. A stress free and cheap way to make the trip, like a 1/5th of the cost of an flying to Reno and the somewhat optimistically  named Reno Tahoe airport, it’s a good 90mins by bus back West on Highway 50, thus little benefit for the hugely more expensive air fare.

 

Track works before Sacramento though meant only a short 30min trip on the double decker Amtrak train, just enough time to scoff a hot dog and breakfast baggle for breakie, very American, before decanting to a train replacement bus to Sacramento. So it’s not just ScotRail !

 

Sacramento Valley Station is like something right out of the Wild West, an old red brick station, who’s main concourse resembles a church with long solid wooden pews !

 

From there it was back on another bus, the Amtrak link to South Lake Tahoe over the Echo Summit on Highway 50, soon after Placerville the first remnants of old drifts at the side of the road from previous winter storms that brought lower level snow. From Placerville Highway 50 starts to really climb, the freeway soon gives way to a narrower road, a mix of dual carriageway, single carriageway and long crawler lanes. We’re climbing to the Twin Bridges before Echo Summit as I type this, the road winding and twisting its way skywards and to the main winter snowline.

 

Sunny under part cloudy skies, but you can tell from the increasing high level cloud that weather is moving in. Snow expected to reach this evening or overnight, another 15 to 20inches of fresh forecast for Kirkwood through Sunday. However rather high snow levels in the warm sector, down at lake level in South Lake at a mere 6200ft, the forecast is Heavy Rain… Is that sun I saw on the CairnGorm webcams in the afternoon !!

Getting Close To Tahoe (2.30pm PST)

Shortly after Echo Summit Highway 50 starts to descend towards the Tahoe Basin, however it doesn’t so much descend as plunge precariously! This is the point for those who aren’t the best with heights to close their eyes and pray (though preferably not if driving). Photos can never do this section of road justice for it’s sheer exposure. For all effective purposes the mountain ends, a thousand feet below your right tyres Highway 89 winds through the woodland on the way to Kirkwood.

 

 

 

 

 

Road Trip…

Well OK not much of a Road Trip yet, more of a frustrating crawl along the A96 towards Aberdeen. However it does mark the first stage of the journey…

This time tomorrow (Friday 27th) it should be fasten seat belts time for the final approach to San Francisco International Airport. The observant amongst you will have spotted the return of the  ‘Return to Kirkwood’ Graphic on the General Situation. It’s just minutes away from hitting 0 days to go…

During the 2005 and 2006 Seasons much of Winterhighland was run from 8 time zones away from a base 7800ft up in the Serria Nevada mountains at Kirkwood Mountain, with some assistance from closer to home with the reports and pix.

Armed with camera and shinny new netbook, I’ll try and post regular blogs and a few pics from the trip. The base will be South Lake Tahoe CA, taking in Kirkwood, Heavenly, Squaw Valley, Homewood and perhaps somewhere else, of course it’s weather dependent. Another 15inches of snow is due to hit Kirkwood Saturday.

Oh and yea, it just had to be done, a Big Mac in Mcdonalds at Elgin to get in the mood !! ;)

Location: Under a railway bridge in Aberdeen freeloading on some wifi.

Mood: Excited! :D

Ten is the number

Ten Days… Ten Feet of Powder… Ten Days To Go till Return to Kirkwood!

Take all the best things of Scotland’s snowsport areas, the lift served off-piste of the Back Corries at Nevis, the cliff strewn, gully lined playground of Glencoe, the massive bowl like expanse of Coire Fionn, the steeps of the East and West Walls, natural gullies like Ciste, and like the Lecht and top of CairnGorm some of the best learning terrain around, oh and the rocks and snow fencing, throw in some trees and dump it on a 10,000ft mountain in California, add a T-bar to confuse the locals and you have Kirkwood!

Having come across numerous Scottish Skiers and Winterhighlander’s, during 2005 and 2006, one Glencoe regular put it like this “It’s like Meall a’ Bhuiridh on steroids with some trees thrown in”. Despite it being small in area in Alpine terms, there’s not a lot Kirkwood doesn’t have and it’s got something just a little bit special, a little bit wild and little bit different. Like Scotland, don’t expect the locals to run and hide when the sun goes in. Here a storm day = a powder day. A blizzard = a bigger powder day and a howling gale  = a powder day with fresh tracks every run!

Tha Sgitheadh a’ dol Gaidhlig (Skiing goes Gaelic)

(See below for English)

Tha sgitheadh ann an Alba air dreach gu tur ùr a ghabhail tro phrògram farsaing de shoidhneachan dà-chànanach agus stuthan taic Gàidhlig ann an Ionadan Sgithidh na h-Alba. Tha an t-seachdain seo a’ comharrachadh crìoch na ciad ìre den phrògram leis an dà chuid, Ionad Sgithidh na Lice agus Ionad Sgithidh Ghleann Sìth, gu foirmeile a’ cur air bhog an soidhneachan ùra Gàidhlig agus am mapa-slighe a tha gu h-iomlan dà-chànanach.

Mar phàirt den iomairt seo, tha an dà ionad air Planaichean Gàidhlig ullachadh, agus leis an sin a’ dèanamh cinnteach gum bi am modh dà-chànanach a’ leantainn air adhart san àm ri teachd agus gum bi ìomhaigh mòran nas àirde aig a’ Ghàidhlig anns na h-àiteachan sin.

Tha Ionadan Sgithidh na Lice agus Ghleann Sìth air iomairt nan soidhneachan ùra agus nam mapaichean a chur an gnìomh tro chom-pàirteachas eadar Comunn na Gàidhlig, Bòrd na Gàidhlig agus Iomairt na Gàidhealtachd ‘s nan Eilean le Bòrd na Gàidhlig a’ solarachadh taic ionmhasail don iomairt.

Tha am pàirt cudromach a tha aig sgitheadh ann an eaconamaidh na h-Alba agus an tarraing a tha aig sgitheadh do gach aois a’ ciallachadh gu bheil comas aig àireamh ùr den t-sluagh ruighinn air a’ Gàidhlig, agus fiosrachadh fhaotainn air an lìonmhorachd de chothroman a tha co-cheangailte rithe.

Thuirt Rosemary Nic a’ Bhàird, an Ceannard an Gnìomh aig Bòrd na Gàidhlig, “Tha sinn glè thoilichte gu bheil comas againn taic a chur ris an dà ionad, an Leac agus Gleann Sìth, gus a’ Ghàidhlig adhartachadh agus a cleachdadh nan obair làitheil. Is e seo a’ chiad turas a tha Planaichean Gàidhlig air an cur an sàs sa roinn phrìobhaideach, agus tha miann làidir againn aire an t-sluaigh a tharraing gun raon fharsaing de chothroman obrach a tha rim faotainn tron Ghàidhlig.”

Thug Comunn na Gàidhlig (CnaG) taic practaigeach do na h-ionadan sgithidh agus chruthaich iad na mapaichean-slighe dà-chànanach. Dh’aithris Eàirdsidh MacGilleathain, Ceannard ChnaG, gu bheil e comasach do gach gnothachas sa Ghàidhealtachd agus na h-Eileanan taic ionmhasail agus practaigeach fhaotainn gus soidhneachan dà-chànanach a chleachdadh. “Bidh sinn a’ solarachadh taic do raon de ghnothachasan, agus an-dràsta fhèin tha sinn a’ sireadh chompanaidhean eile aig a bheil toil a thaobh soidhneachan dà-chànanach a chur an sàs.”

A’ bruidhinn air leasachaidhean aig Ionad Sgithidh Ghleann Sìth, thuirt Graham McCabe, Ceannard an Ionaid, “Tha sinn gu math toilichte leis na soidhnichean agus tha luchd-tadhail mar thà air ùidh mhòr a nochdadh sa Ghàidhlig. Bidh sinn a’ dèanamh tuilleadh san àm ri teachd”.

Cha ghabh cudromachd na Gàidhlig do dh’eaconamaidh na h-Alba a bhith air a mheas fo luach agus tha Iomairt na Gàidhealtachd ‘s nan Eilean den bheachd gur e inneal làidir gun choimeas a th’ anns a’ chànan gus gnothachasan a bhrosnachadh. Thuirt Alasdair MacLeòid bho Roinn Fàs Choimhearsnachdan aig Iomairt na Gàidhealtachd ‘s nan Eilean: “Tha InG a’ faicinn na Gàidhlig mar mhaoin-taic do ghnothachasan agus do choimhearsnachdan na Gàidhealtachd ‘s nan Eilean. Tha e na adhbhar toileachais a bhith a’ faicinn an dìoghrais ath-nuadhaichte seo agus an taic dhan Ghàidhlig air feadh na Gàidhealtachd, agus tha InG daingeann a thaobh ar cànan, ar dualchas cultarach agus ar traidiseanan a chur gu feum ann an leasachadh na sgìre. Tha cleachdadh na Gàidhlig air soidhneachan na dhòigh èifeachdach agus buadhach gus a bhith a’ taisbeanadh uaill nar dearbh-aithne agus buntanas àite dhaibhsan a tha a’ còmhnaidh ann agus a’ tadhal air a’ Ghàidhealtachd ‘s na h-Eileanan.” Mar thoradh air an uimhir de dh’obair eadar-theangachaidh agus ghoireasan a chaidh a chruthachadh, tha comas aig an dà ionad sgithidh fiosrachadh a chur air na làraich-lìn aca co-cheangailte ri ainmean àiteachan gach ceàrnaidh agus mar a thàinig am briathrachas Gàidhlig gu bith.

‘S e Ionad Sgithidh na Lice a fhuair na soidhnichean an toiseach ‘s thuirt Seumas Mac an Tòisich “Bidh luchd-tadhail a’ faicinn saoghal dà-chànanach a thaobh soidhnichean a-nis. Togaidh seo ìomhaigh na Gàidhlig sa sgìre seo ‘s le daoine às na bailtean mòra”.

Bithear a’ leantainn air an obair aig An Leac agus Gleann Sìth le leasachaidhean ionnan aig Ionadan Sgithidh eile ann an Alba tro sheusan a’ gheamhraidh. Tha Comunn na Gàidhlig a’ cur fàilte air fiosrachadh air ais mu na leasachaidhean sin agus air seòladh puist-dealain a chur air bhonn a dh’aon ghnothaich gus cothrom a thoirt do neach sam bith fios a chur thuca.

Skiing goes Gaelic

Skiing in Scotland has taken on a whole new look with an extensive programme of bilingual signage and Gaelic support materials at Scottish Ski Centres. This week marks the completion of stage one of the programme with both The Lecht Ski Centre and Glenshee Ski Centre formally launching their new Gaelic signage and fully bilingual piste map.

As part of the initiative both ski centres have prepared Gaelic Language Plans which will ensure that the bilingual approach is continued in the future and that Gaelic will have a much enhanced profile at the locations.

The Lecht and Glenshee Ski Centres have delivered the new signage and maps through through a partnership between Comunn na Gàidhlig, Bòrd na Gàidhlig and Highlands & Islands Enterprise with Bòrd na Gàidhlig providing financial support for the initiative.

The important role played by skiing in the Scottish economy and its appeal to all ages means that a whole new audience is now able to access Gaelic and be informed on the many opportunities available through the language.

Acting Chief Executive of Bòrd na Gàidhlig, Rosemary Ward said: “We are very pleased to be able to support both The Lecht and Glenshee to promote and use Gaelic in their daily business. This is the first time that Gaelic Language Plans have been implemented in the private sector and we very keen to draw attention to the extensive range of employment opportunities available though Gaelic.”

Comunn na Gàidhlig (CnaG) provided practical support for the ski centres and supplied the bilingual piste maps. Archie Maclean, Chief Executive of CnaG, said that all businesses in the Highlands and Islands are able to access financial and practical support to use bilingual signs. “We provide support to a range of businesses and are actively seeking other companies who might wish to introduce bilingual signs”.

Speaking about the developments at Glenshee Ski Centre, Graham McCabe, Managing Director said, “We are really pleased with the new signs and visitors to the ski centre have already expressed great interest in Gaelic. We will be continuing with this approach in the future”.

The importance of Gaelic to the economy of Scotland cannot be underestimated and Highlands & Islands Enterprise believes that the language is a unique and powerful tool to help boost business. Alasdair MacLeòid of Highlands and Islands Enterprise Strengthening Communities Group said, “HIE sees Gaelic as an asset to businesses and communities in the Highlands and Islands. It’s tremendous to see this renewed passion and support for Gaelic across the Gàidhealtachd, and HIE is committed to utilising our language and our cultural heritage and traditions in the region’s development. The use of Gaelic on signs is a striking and effective means of communicating a pride in our identity and a sense of place for those living in and visiting the Highlands and Islands.”

The extensive amount of translation work and resources created have resulted in both ski centres being able to add information to their websites relating to the place-names of each area and how the Gaelic versions of terminology was arrived at.

The Lecht Ski Centre was the first to implement the bilingual signs programme and James McIntosh, Centre Manager said “All visitors will now experience a bilingual world as far as signs are concerned. This will undoubtedly raise the profile of Gaelic in this area and from further afield”.

The work at The Lecht and Glenshee will be followed by similar developments at the other Scottish Ski Centres during the winter season. Comunn na Gàidhlig welcomes feedback on these developments and have set up a dedicated email address to enable anyone with an interest to contact them.