Happy New Year !!

Wishing all readers of Winterhighland all the best for 2009 and hope you had a good one whatever you were up to on Hogmanay.

New Year’s Day brought a flurry or two to the mountains, nothing very significant by any stretch however it was enough to take the edge of the hard base on CairnGorm and the continued cold weather with light winds has allowed the Lecht and Glenshee to fire up their old fan guns to enable all the Eastern areas to offer some riding over the New year period.

The snow making equipment at the Lecht and Glenshee certainly isn’t state of the art and being entirely manual – someone has to go and turn on each hydrant at the required flow and set up the gun – means it’s very cold and wet work, so a big shout for the guys who spent the New Year Holiday getting cold and wet so we could have some more runs to play on ! :)

The success with limited old manual equipment does raise the question of just what might be achievable with a modern, more extensive and at least to some extent automated system. Winterhighland’s AWS (Automatic Weather Station) at the SSC Hut at 2500ft on CairnGorm Mountain has logged over 760hours where the wet-bulb temperature has been cold enough for modern Ratnik Sky Giant air/water guns since the end of October. (Not all these hours would have been suitable due to wind,  but the data also shows the degree to which the foot of the White Lady can be sheltered in certain wind directions. This has implications elsewhere on the mountain in that there will in some wind directions be part of the mountain where snow can be made even when high winds are plaguing much of the mountain.)

Winterhighland into 2009

Well for one thing the blog admin which had problems following an upgrade to the software is fixed! More importantly the site has been widened, partly to accommodate additional advertising, some from Google Adsense, some shared snowsports adverts with Fall Line Media. The really important bit is why these adverts are needed – they are contributing to the substantial cost of a brand new dedicated server for Winterhighland which should significantly improve site load times and stability despite the volatile traffic spikes that inevitably hit whenever snow is forecast and so far it has coped admarilly with some early surges in traffic that October’s excitement caused.

The wider format is gradually being rolled out and it also allows for a summary lift report on the general situation page, wider thumbnails for Pix from the Slopes on the GS and area report pages, plus much larger thumbnails on the front page.

The UK Ice Conditions Server now links into the GS page with the latest photos, several small improvements will be rolled out across the site to provide more cross links to the various member supplied photo galleries on the reports servers, particularly the public reports so they better integrate and compliment the Pix from the Slopes.

Here’s to a snowy 2009.