Mission almost accomplished…

On Thursday I hit the slopes at Glenshee with the intention of riding all five Scottish Snowsport Areas within five days as the start of half term loomed. Originally my plan had been to get both the Lecht and CairnGorm Mountain in on the Friday and move to the West on Saturday and Nevis Range!

Had I stuck to the original plan I’d have got the five areas done in four days, however having managed to bag B&B in the Caledonian Hotel in Fort William for £19 for Sunday night – I spent a day at the Lecht on Friday and took in CairnGorm Mountain on the Saturday.

A day practicing ‘Jedi Skiing’ at Glencoe on Sunday in incessant snow fall saw four areas in four days. But Nevis was StormBound, the SE wind that was blowing the snow around Glencoe was howling at Nevis and with the same windspeed forecast for Monday, left me with a bit of concern!

Alas the wind beat me, with Nevis Range again afflicted by a substantially stronger wind than generally in the Western Mountains due to local topography. However, it turned out to be a superb day at Glencoe on the slopes of Meall a’ Bhuiridh and five good if varied consecutive days sliding in Scotland. Also repeated trips up ladders deicing cams and weather stations at Glencoe!

On Tuesday it’s back to CairnGorm, may not be much sliding – wee project in hand! ;)

Oh and WordPress is patched up and talking to the server again.

Glencoe Access Run on Sunday afternoon.

Glencoe Access Run on Sunday afternoon.

Gorm Still Top to Middle on 31st May

Just some short clips of spring snow fun on the middle slopes of CairnGorm Mountain on the final day of spring, a scorcher as summer arrived a day early! Despite it being warm in shorts and t-shirt, the spring snow mid-mountain was near perfect, loose crunchy granular spring snow, Coire Cas was just a delight to cruise down creating your own pleasently cooling breeze.

A 4 1/2 minute video of the full top to middle run via the Traverse and Coire Cas is also available at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ksyIq6DeRU .

Opening Day

CairnGorm Mountain kicked of the 2009/10 Scottish Snowsports Season on Saturday with great early season conditions in the Top Basin for warming up those ski legs with the first turns of winter.

All Top Basin Runs are complete and opened on Saturday with the Ptarmigan Tow available from the start and the Coire Na Ciste Tow opening up about lunchtime. The Ciste Fairway is loaded, really good cover and full width between the fences and was the pick of the day on Saturday.

Ptarmigan Tow

Alas at time of writing the weather in a combination of wind, low cloud and snow shower has prevented the top tows running on Sunday due to appalling visibility. However it’s helping fill the runs in more and more snow is forecast for the coming days.

The upper 2/3rds of the middle slopes on CairnGorm are filling in quite nicely, but the snow level was a couple of hundred feet too high last week. However I managed to post the first full length descent of the M1 on Saturday on a visit to the Timing Hut, a bit of precision rock slalom required right at the top, then a pleasant full width stretch of wind packed snow before the surface turned into ego sapping breakable crust. Some classic Scottish Combat Skiing down the final fenced narrow into the queuing area took me to the foot of the M1 Poma (I haven’t yet looked at the bottom of the skis…). However for those who stick to the prepared area up top, no need to worry about rocks or bringing the old planks.

There is a pisted track from the upper Zig Zags up the 105 and Traverse to the top which provides a easy way up for those touring. You can ski back down this way, but it’s not patrolled and you’ll need to walkout to the Daylodge until there is enough snow to formally open the middle mountain.

The Sortie back down the mountain included a check on the weather stations and webcams and all were functioning correctly with no icing problems on the anemometers. If wind speed at one AWS is consistently 0mph with changing wind direction, and temps have recently fallen below 0c with either wet snow/sleet for a time or thick mist, be suspicious that icing may be an issue. In such conditions take all the AWS’s together and consider what’s happening on the short webcam video clips such as for the SSC balcony to get an idea of whether the calm conditions being reported by the wind vane is factual or not!

It was fantastic to be back on the planks again and the pisted snow was just perfect for making those first turns on, at present Wednesday is looking like the day for a mid-week slide, mostly sunny and winds going Southerly which shouldn’t affect the tows, but provides a great tail wind to spice up the Top Basin. Here’s to a hopefully snowy 2010.

Summer work on CairnGorm

A small selection of photos showing summer maintenance work, taken on the walk back down CairnGorm Mountain on Tuesday 16th June after the visit to check out the snow fields over the back.

The first two photos show the re-profiled M1 Poma unload ramp, steeper, higher, but wider fan out (to stop people catapulting round the bullwheel).

Following photos show new lifting rigs being fitted on the Coire Cas Tow, the Carpark Tow’s bullwheel mast down for repairs and repaint (two new or refurbished/repainted bullwheels in the Cas Carpark).

Final photo, the Sheiling Tow’s novel counter weight, or is it a CairnGorm proof ‘weather stone’. The captions might read:

Stone is Wet: Raining (or the lifty couldn’t make it till his next break).

Stone is Dry: Not Raining.

Shadow on the ground: Sunny.

White on Top: Snowing.

White on one side: Horizontal Snow.

Can’t see rock:  White Out (or mystic smoke drifting from lift shack).

Swinging rock: Bloody windy.

Bouncing rock: Lard Ass just got on/off Tow.

Rock Gone: Armageddon.

First Snow of the Winter !!

October has marked it’s arrival with the first Snows of the upcoming winter, as a Northerly Plunge sends temperatures diving. Thursday saw the first reasonable covering of snow on the higher tops of the Cairngorms, and there’s also a smattering on the tops in the West.

It all add’s to the excitement and anticipation at the season ahead, but don’t get too carried away just yet – winter proper is officially 11 weeks away yet, that said it’s another sign of the seasons unstoppable march back to winter.

The past two seasons started the last weekend of November (2006/07) and first weekend of December (2007/08) on CairnGorm Mountain with lasting snow, though cover became more limited in the run up and around Christmas both years.

You can now watch how things are shaping up this autumn with our mid-mountain webcams and live weather real-time weather station on CairnGorm Mountain which are now back online following completion of the reinstatement works to flood damage on the hill road (which necessitated the switch off of the power supply for safety). Our cams and AWS are situated in the Scottish Ski Club Hut at 2500ft near the foot of the White Lady.

CairnGorm Mountain has also installed an automatic weather station and two new webcams for the new season, these can be viewed at www.cairngormmountain.com/web-cam and the AWS is located just under 1000ft above the SSC one at the Tunnel Mouth.

The First Snow at the Mid-Station:

First Snow

See also Pix from the Slopes for a couple of photos from up top on Thursday 2nd October.