With a second consecutive 100,000+ skier day season at both CairnGorm Mountain and Glenshee, it’s fair to say it was another successful season for Scottish Snowsports.
There’s a lot of work undertaken every summer, often largely un-noticed by the winter visitor just to keep the lifts turning, but two good seasons on the bounce mean there’s some noteworthy developments for the approaching winter.
Glenshee is leading the way. With the new Baddoch Chair which is set to revolutionise access from the ticket office area to the Cairnwell side of the mountain. With significant snow fence replacement and a brand new start of the art PB600 piste basher for 2010, for 2012 Glenshee offers up the first new Chairlift in Scotland since the Snowy Owl at the Lecht in the 90s.
The new Baddoch Chair is short, but it addresses one of the most major bottlenecks on the mountain by providing non surface access from the Ticket Office to the Cairnwell Mountain Restaurant, the hub point of the Cairnwell lift network from where the Cairnwell and Carn Aosda T-bars, Butchart’s Access and Claybokie Pomas fan out.
This will benefit all ability levels and by improving access to the Cairnwell will help disperse early morning crowds. There’s also novice specific enhancements with a new nursery slope created adjacent to the Dink Dink Poma with a beginner rope tow and segregated first timer’s slope within the snow making area. The Claybokie Poma has had a major overhaul with half the lift replaced and snow fencing reduced, greatly widening the run making it an ideal area for snow plough turners to progress.
Glenshee’s not stopping with that lot though, new and repaired snow fencing over the past 2 summers is measured not in metres but KM’s. A second new Piste Basher in 2 years is on order from Kassbohrer and a fully automatic fan gun snow cannon will be trialled this winter to supplement the existing manual fan guns.
Alas at CairnGorm there is sadly not any good news to report on the ground with respect to the Chairlift situation in Coire na Ciste, though work remains in progress on a redevelopment proposal for the lower Ciste which is set to eventually see the Coire na Ciste Chairlift spin again. Support the calls for Chairlift reinstatement at www.savetheciste.com .
Though CML can’t match Glenshee’s new (or even a re-opened) Chairlift for 2012, don’t underestimate the amount of cash spent to improve the reliability of the uplift and thus snowsports provision on CairnGorm Mountain. Over £324,000 has been spent on the tows this summer, bringing the total for the past 2 years to over half a million.
The Ptarmigan Tow has had a major refurbishment of it’s drive station, following new electrics and control system last winter. The Ciste Tow has also had a major overhaul of it’s electrics and control system.
The decking of the loading gantries of the Cas Tow and West Wall Poma have been overhauled. The WWP has a new haul rope and new bullwheel guide rails which should help reduce stoppages. The Cas Tow set to enter it’s 50th season should be sporting all new oil boxes this season, these should make for much easier take offs, reducing the need for slowdowns and reduce if not end stoppages due to T-bars going over the line either due to miss-loads, people falling off or mishaps unloading at the top.
It may not be as sexy as a new chairlift, but it will all help increase effective uplift capacity on the mountain.
Glencoe is not missing out, a modest development which will have a real benefit for all is the proposed Plateau Rope Tow. Providing a novice area within walking distance of the Access Chair, this tow will reach high enough to provide alternative access to the Cliffhanger Chairlift. Helping to relieve queues at peak times on the Poma and providing an alternative to inexperienced snowboarders previously flummoxed by the Plateau Poma.
Keep an eye on the blog through the autumn for further updates and hopefully some photos from the areas showing the progress with summer developments.