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daveski


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Re: CairnGorm Mtn (Non Conditions Discussion)
Date Posted: 06.36hrs on Sun 18 Sep 11
Sorry guys, not my intention to give the impression that snow making can not work, plenty of good well written articles about to support that they can, also practical examples around, the bit I don't get is where does the investment come from? The only numbers that are bandied about recently are from CML and they don't seem to be huge numbers,I am assuming we all agree that the infrastructure there has been run down over a number of years and still requires a lot of money to be put back in to establish some form of sustainability of what they have. Again from what I have read recently the next major step step in the recovery is phase 1 plans for the Ciste with many wishing that phase 2 follows immediately after. So unless major funding comes along I cant seem being able to do much with snow making until after the completion of their plans on the Ciste.

Alan puts forward some alternatives which is great to see and these are the kind of ideas that I think have more chance to be looked at in the immediate future to bring benefit. As usual CML have the juggling act to as what they can do over their short summer when the weather is bad and removing snow fences would probably take a fair bit of planing and organisation, never mind come to grips with the concept of removing snow fencing. Though I guess they have to consider the possibility of damaging the supports to the track

I personally don't think the mobile fencing is a long term solution, more of how to keep the snow from the critical areas in the short term, granted it might end up causing problem else where, but possibly in an area where they can doze it away with the big basher. There will be some trial and error and a compromise, from a revenue generation perspective losing the M1 for a short period as a sacrifice for the train could be a price worth paying (gives access to more of the mountain to more people), I am sure there are those that will disagree.

Now jump forward 5 years:

After the 8th successive year and healthy revenues generated by another bumper winter season and the hugely successful summer activities centre Cairngorm Mountain are gearing up to switch on their new state of the art Snow Generation System. This new system will enable Cairngorm to open their winter operations from the first weekend in November until the May bank holiday weekend.

During a recent interview the Chairman of CML stated that the next phase of development was the commencement of the Gondola link from Glenmore. The Gondola while providing a unique visitor experience during the Summer months will also enable another 10 days of winter operations - the 10 days have traditionally been lost due to road closures after a winter storm. Once the Gondola link is completed the hill road will be closed to the Public November to May (excluding organised events).








alan


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Re: CairnGorm Mtn (Non Conditions Discussion)
Date Posted: 08.11hrs on Sun 18 Sep 11
Quote:
from a revenue generation perspective losing the M1 for a short period as a sacrifice for the train could be a price worth paying (gives access to more of the mountain to more people),


In terms of uplift that is likely the case, but the impact on key runs could potentially be more significant.

The amount of snow fencing on the M1 was significantly reduced with the bottom section completely re-aligned in the period 2005/2006, the evidence even from the below par 2007 season was the changes made a significant improvement to reliability of the M1 Race Track and more importantly even greater improvements to the White Lady.

There has been a very significant renascence in the White Lady starting from around 2006 when fencing on the M1 started to be reduced. Alterations were completed for the 2007 season, with the run skiable for much off the 2007 season when overall snow cover was more limited than most of the previous seasons since 2001.

An elephant fence on the outside of the M1 RaceTrack would have capacity to catch twice as much or more snow than the old triple Race Track fencing which was removed over 2006 and 2007.
Doug_Bryce


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Re: CairnGorm Mtn (Non Conditions Discussion)
Date Posted: 09.09hrs on Sun 18 Sep 11
To be fair to Cairngorm they are very aware (on colins blog) that the snow cannon trial has been nothing more than a real life test of the limitations of their water supply and power supply. In my opinion that is a worthwhile exercise ? Assuming water and power supply have proven to be limiting factors then further detailed trials would require a reasonable chunk of investment ?

Also.... the scottish ski areas have had representives visit Iceland and Sweden to discuss technical requirements and cost of snow making etc. So clearly the investigation hasnt been completly lackadaisical. IMHO lot of the vitriol directed at Cairngorm is, in this case, unjustified. I dont see people complaining the other 4 ski areas havent invested in snow making ?

We trialled the cannon over the last two seasons for power and water use and how much snow it would produce. We now have a clearer idea of just what is involved in trying to produce significant quantities of snow. I am not saying it will never happen, but it would require a significant chunk of money thrown at it.
Jim Cornfoot was over at the NASSA conference in Iceland, last month and met the Techno Alpin rep, who is intending coming to Scotland to visit the Ski Areas. It will be interesting to get his views on what can be done here.


I am open minded about snow making. Jamies dissertation certainly provides compelling evidence that we could make snow faster than it melts in Scotlands climate (even below 2000ft!)

However have still to hear convincing answers to the following issues.

high wind speed - we ski on drifted snow in Scotland that fills in the gullies. The average wind speed above 2000ft is 30mph+. I dont know anywhere in the world with similar wind speeds to Scotland that has large scale snow making operations. NZ obviously has some snow making - but its very limited on the windier western resorts.

capital investment - snow making costs big bucks to install. the last multi million capital investment in Scottish skiing (the funicular) almost bankrupted Cairngorm (and resulted in the current problems including no Coire Na Ciste chairs). A big investment in snow making to provide a reliable top to bottom run would cost millions and be a huge roll of the dice ?

lift pass price - it seems that Thredbo in Australia (Alans favourite example of snow making in marginal conditions) has the highest lift pass price in the world. $107 = 70 quid !!

Lecht - Tosh at the Lecht has been making snow to keep the Robin open for 100+days each season for the past 10 years. He is probably one of the few people in Scotland to have real life experience of making snow in Scotland? But in recent year has choosen to invest in new buildings, lifts and summer activites ahead of expanding the snow making. Would be interesting to know why ?

Lots of questions!
However given the limited resource people need to be realistic and appreciate scottish skiing for what it is. Even if the WH forum demands Ciste Chairs / Snowmaking and a new Glenmore gondola winking smiley




Edited 1 times. Last edit at 09.31hrs Sun 18 Sep 11 by Doug_Bryce.
Olderalan


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Re: CairnGorm Mtn (Non Conditions Discussion)
Date Posted: 10.18hrs on Sun 18 Sep 11
Everyone has their wish list...Ciste & WW Chairs...a Summit Tow....Carpark and/or White Lady Chairlift...Snowmaking...Glenmore Gondola + (add your own).

The one thing that they all have it common is a need for capital investment and as the former CEO once said to me ''nobody has the stomach for investing in Scottish snowsports anymore'' which may or may not be true but it will have some substance.

Where will the capital come from? Well, we can see from the recently published accounts that CML had to pay HIE £385,000 as a turnover commission. Some may say that is quite reasonable as HIE seeks to make a return on the funds used to bale CML out, in 2008. However, it would be interesting to know the exact sum that was involved in the rescue and what funds have been put in since. I reckon that £385,000 would have gone a long way to getting both the Ciste and WW Chairs back into operation.......and that would tick off a couple of items from the 'wish list'. The debate goes on.

Incidentally, if the present run of weather keeps going...we will all have to learn how to water ski....downhill...miserable again in Strathspey this morning.

Regards

Olderalan
DonaldM


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19th Dec 2014
Re: CairnGorm Mtn (Non Conditions Discussion)
Date Posted: 10.44hrs on Sun 18 Sep 11
Anyone who thinks HIE are steering operations is wrong. In my experience, talking to HIE officers over a number of years, they don't really know what to do.

Where there is a will there is a way. I don't we can say for certain that the will exist with some at CML. If it didn said individual wouldn't be putting out stories of global warming all the time.
h11lly


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20th Dec 2014
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Re: CairnGorm Mtn (Non Conditions Discussion)
Date Posted: 12.12hrs on Sun 18 Sep 11
Future developments are not going to affect the numbers skiing this season or on any given weekend this coming season. However the numbers skiing on any given weekend will be influenced by what messages have being banded about in the press and online before and around that weekend, and the revenue from the numbers will affect future developments.

Alan will provide the exact numbers, but one of our conversations when walking up to patches this summer was about the huge increase in numbers Glencoe had the weekend after he had put up Doug's amazing video of the conditions at that time on the front of Winterhighland.

I totally agree with Donald that talking about global warming always puts a negative on any press release. It's in the future and what should be focused on is the possible skiing NOW. If articles are about the coming season they should be hopeful or neutral not harping on about global warming. Let's face it nobody knows what the coming season is going to turn out like so why knock it before it's happened.

Last year I was gutted when at the end of the positive upbeat article in the Scotsman about me managing to ski for 12 continuous months through the fantastic 2009/10 season this appeared at the end

Quote 'A spokesperson for CairnGorm Mountain Ltd said "However, there is a persistent concern about the effect of global warming for all Scottish ski resorts. Despite having a bumper year last year, in 2006 we had our worst season ever. Sadly, that is more representative a picture of the snow on the mountain in Scotland." '

This was published on the 28th October 2010 just when folk were probably beginning to think about where they were going to ski over the winter and debating whether a week abroad would be better use of their budget than several weekends in Scotland...... That above quote could have sent many to the travel agent.

Some of you might have noticed the bit in the online Strathy a couple of weeks back after Alan and I had been spotted walking up to clock up month 23 and asked for photos.

Below one of the photos was

Quote 'An avid ski fan has taken to the Cairngorms slopes for the 23rd consecutive month despite the chronic lack of snow '

Don't know who came up with the phrase 'Chronic lack of snow' but why oh why couldn't they have used the word current ?

Maybe the travel agents have benefited again - Because who would want to gamble sking throughout this winter in a resort that has a 'Chronic lack of snow' ?

Don't often rant ... must be withdrawal symptoms from sliding winking smiley

Helen
Hipennine


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Re: CairnGorm Mtn (Non Conditions Discussion)
Date Posted: 13.56hrs on Sun 18 Sep 11
This should probably go in the Snowmaking thread, but as there are comparisons being drawen between the Lecht and Cairngorm above.

The Lecht has one nursery slope with snowmaking (as does Glenshee). Running those snowmakers just provides cover for a small single seperate run aimed at beginners (and in GS's case, a walk up from the road). The potential financial returns in running snowmaking just to satisfy demand from beginners is probably quite marginal, and neither of these runs provide the topographical form, described in previous posts above, for creating season long sustainable snowdepths.

The strategy that most seem to be favouring for CML is to create farmable stores of snow to be used to fill-in already partially "landscaped" runs rather than a blanket coverage of "open" land -eg the Cas zig-zags, the Sheiling (which is very sheltered) and the Burnside. The result would be to create a top to bottom series of runs, when they would otherwise be incomplete, rather than covering completely bare runs. In the longer run, a bit more earthmoving and modified snowfencing could lead to a continuous snowmaking ribbon from the Ptarmigan and down the Traverse and Cas, that would suffer minimal ablation.

On the subject of wind, I've been told that some of the high altitude snowmaking in Zermatt was economically sound because of the wind, not despite it ! - This is because man-made is denser and therefore falls to ground and stays firmly attached, providing good cover on rocky areas, whereas the real stuff just blows away. Many of the higher level runs now open in December, whereas in previous decades, much of the area to the North and East of Gornergrat and along the Stockhorn ridge never planned to open until February when sufficient depth of real snow had fallen and stuck.
Doug_Bryce


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Re: CairnGorm Mtn (Non Conditions Discussion)
Date Posted: 12.09hrs on Mon 19 Sep 11
CML had to pay HIE £385,000 as a turnover commission. Some may say that is quite reasonable as HIE seeks to make a return on the funds used to bale CML out, in 2008


Doanld - This fact clearly demonstrates who is holding the purse strings and making the decisions. IMHO it also explains why its wrong to get sucked in by the 'inept ski centre management not interested in skiing' often promoted on this forum.

Obviously its frustrating that the recent profits from the last 2 snowy winters are being returned to HIE and the banks. However the tax payer is probably quite right to reclaim some of the vast millions that were sunk into the funicular disaster over the last decade ? This article explains just how badly the funicular debt repayments were crippling Cairngorm, to the extent that they almost went bankrupt. Obviously the core lift policy is terrible from a skiers perspective - but at least we still have a ski centre on Cairngorm...

[www.heraldscotland.com]

Looking forward I personally think things look much more positive ? Cairngorm are now making small profits, instead of losing millions thumbs up It certainly wont be easy for them to get funds released for reinstating the Coire Na Ciste chairs - but I believe that a genuine intention is there if circumstances allow.

As I said before... much of the vitriol and hype on this forum is unjustified (despite the disappointing things that have happened in the past circa 2005-06 as a direct result of the insane funicular debt).



Edited 2 times. Last edit at 12.12hrs Mon 19 Sep 11 by Doug_Bryce.
alan


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Re: CairnGorm Mtn (Non Conditions Discussion)
Date Posted: 13.10hrs on Mon 19 Sep 11
The reported profits were not returned to HIE, the profits in the accounts are stated AFTER paying of the Turnover Commission to HIE.



cmorrison


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Re: CairnGorm Mtn (Non Conditions Discussion)
Date Posted: 14.00hrs on Mon 19 Sep 11
That makes quite a big difference to the profit margin!
Hipennine


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Re: CairnGorm Mtn (Non Conditions Discussion)
Date Posted: 16.12hrs on Mon 19 Sep 11
cmorrison Wrote:
That makes quite a big difference to the profit margin!


It makes a stunning difference - on a profit % basis, CML must have been in the top 5 percent performing companies in the UK last year. (Ok I know that's not a referenced figure, but it won't be far off).
Doug_Bryce


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Re: CairnGorm Mtn (Non Conditions Discussion)
Date Posted: 16.48hrs on Mon 19 Sep 11
Gentlemen - I would use the word 'profit' with caution.

The modest profits returned in recent winters are small change compared to the massive funicular debt of the last ten years - somewhere on winterhighland you will find the 10 year P&L. The bottom line is that I very much doubt there is any money in the pot for investment in snowsport projects such as new Coire Na Ciste Chairs / Snowmaking / Glenmore gondola (all nice ideas in theory!).

Hopefully once WH'ers are educated to the harsh economic reality they might be a little more understanding of why things ended up like they did ?
alan


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Re: CairnGorm Mtn (Non Conditions Discussion)
Date Posted: 17.31hrs on Mon 19 Sep 11
HIE commissioned the CairnGorm Funicular, HIE funded the CairnGorm Funicular, HIE built the CairnGorm Funicular and HIE always owned the CairnGorm Funicular.

HIE's motivation in doing so? By regenerating an attraction that dominated the Strath quite literally in terms of the mountain, they hoped to kick start the long stalled redevelopment of the wider Area. The Audit Scotland report concludes that on that premise HIE succeeded in their objectives.

Saying CML had a 'massive funicular' debt may give people the perception that CML had a £20m construction project debt to service which is not the case.

Snow on the mountain brings skiers and boarders to Aviemore, resulting in an economic gain several multiples of CML's revenue, underpinning a year round tourism industry in Strathspey.

A valid question is whether one company should have to bear all the costs of sustaining and maximising that critical winter business, when the real commercial benefit lies beyond the mountain? Perhaps a community or co-operative approach is needed going forward where local businesses that gain from the mountain, also put something back into the mountain?
cmorrison


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Re: CairnGorm Mtn (Non Conditions Discussion)
Date Posted: 19.59hrs on Mon 19 Sep 11
Doug_Bryce Wrote:
Gentlemen - I would use the word 'profit' with caution.

The modest profits returned in recent winters are small change compared to the massive funicular debt of the last ten years - somewhere on winterhighland you will find the 10 year P&L. The bottom line is that I very much doubt there is any money in the pot for investment in snowsport projects such as new Coire Na Ciste Chairs / Snowmaking / Glenmore gondola (all nice ideas in theory!).

Hopefully once WH'ers are educated to the harsh economic reality they might be a little more understanding of why things ended up like they did ?


That's not totally true. The debt for the funicular has been written off or been passed on to someone else. Whilst the bank will look at past performance and won't open up their cheque book there is absolutely no reason why CML shouldn't be allowed to reinvest their profits.

At the end of the day companies can either live on their past and die a slow painful death or look to the future, invest in their future and grow their profits.

Companies who have cash should be spending it in a tough economy. Its when you get the best price for things and can pick up stuff on the cheap. Waren Buffet has done a very good job of getting very rich from investing when the market is struggling or from betting against the market.
Doug_Bryce


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Re: CairnGorm Mtn (Non Conditions Discussion)
Date Posted: 20.41hrs on Mon 19 Sep 11
^ nope.

In 1997 the funicular was estimated to cost £14.8 million to build, of which £9.4 million was meant to come from HIE’s predecessor bodies. But after it was completed in 2001, the total rose to £26.75 million, of which HIE provided £19.4 million.

The funicular was strongly backed by local politicians and “was pushed forward without proper regard to the risk to the public purse,” says the report. Part of the problem was “HIE’s determination to proceed with the project at any cost”.

Figures in the report reveal that the funicular’s operator, Cairngorm Mountain Limited, made major losses in 10 of the last 14 years, with only small profits in four years. In a bale-out operation in 2007, investors in the funicular lost virtually all their money.

Highland Council was given just £1 for the £1 million it was owed, while the Cairngorm Mountain Trust, a charity, received £1 for its £101,000 stake. The Bank of Scotland, however, received a more substantial, but still secret, sum in return for its £3.6 million investment.



[www.robedwards.com]

Now the £385,000 'turnover commission' OlderAlan refers to is basically CML paying back HIE (i.e the taxpayer) part of the £1 million bail out that was required back in 2008. If the tax payer hadnt bailled out CML then we might not have any skiing on Cairngorm ?

Whilst the construction debt for the funicular may have been written off it doesnt mean CML are totally free of liability or, indeed, able to spend any recent 'profit' as they so choose. (debt never goes away - it just gets moved around).

The idea that Cairngorm may have cash or 'profits' to reinvest is totally false. It also a key fact WH'ers need to understand before ranting and raving about management not making investment...




Edited 2 times. Last edit at 20.51hrs Mon 19 Sep 11 by Doug_Bryce.
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