The Lecht, Scotland, Dec. 15, 2017

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The Lecht, Scotland, Dec. 15, 2017

Postby q » Tue Dec 19, 2017 12:52 pm

It had been something in the region of 15 years or more since I last skied in Scotland when I was at university and it could be 20 years since I last skied at the Lecht. After coming home from Montana in April I landed a staff job at the company I work for meaning I had another 1/2 years holiday entitlement to take in 2017. I was left with 1 day to take in December and decided that if, and its a big if, we had snow then I would head skiing.

All my proper ski kit is stored in Montana so a few years ago my dad gave me his old boots and skis. On Thursday night I got everything out of the loft and found that the boot didn't fit into the ski binding. Not thinking too much about it I tried on the boot without ski socks and thought, bit roomy, but with proper socks on be fine. I adjusted the bindings and after a bit of mucking around got them setup, or so I thought. There seemed to be adjustments on the front and back with the front not seeming to do all that much when moving the screw. With easy terrain I wasn't particularly worried about my setup.

My dad planned to come with me but changed his mind at the last minute and it was probably wise as it turned into quite a day all things considered! Setting off around 9am I drove up the 60 miles to the ski hill passing through a few areas where the road was covered by snow from a few days before and the final climb from Cockbridge to the ski centre was covered by an inch of brown slush.

I hadn't been to the Lecht since they built the new lodge and noticed that the trees that were planted when I was a young lad were now 10 feet tall. A quick walk to the lodge I picked up my ski pass which was discounted to £25 and headed back to the car to get my gear on. First issue I found was that the ski boots were really roomy even with my ski socks on. Each lift at the Lecht is named after a bird found in Scotland with Robin and Wren being the small beginner lifts building up to the Grouse, Buzzard and Falcon which offer the more demanding terrain albeit extremely easy compared to what I ski in Montana each winter. The visibility was so bad that I never saw the Buzzard lift on the opposite side of the hill at all throughout the day but knew it was not running anyway.

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New Day Lodge

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Piste Map

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Grouse and Snowy Owl Chair

I headed to the Grouse and grabbed the poma and I was on my way. Poor visibility, driving wind bringing a constant fine mist of frozen water to give my face a good shot blast was prevalent all day long and although I was never cold with my gear on it was not a particularly pleasant day. Condition wise I'd have liked to have my normal boards under my feet as anything that was not pisted and packed in was really tough going on my dad's old X-screams. This was not helped by my left ski binding clearly not being ratchetted up enough so I took it easy making lots of turns on the main runs on the hill.

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Grouse

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Eagle

I took a couple of runs on Grouse before making my way over to the Eagle which is less of a challenge but had a couple of ways down which were packed and had some decent turns top to bottom. Visibility was such that seeing bumps on the upper 3rd of the hill was virtually impossible and you just had to go with it. I headed over to the Osprey lift for a few laps before lunch. It brought back memories of 1986 when as a 10yo lad skiing for the first time I got progressively more annoyed that I was spending time on the Robin and Wren when I felt I was ready to go up the real lifts. I scooted away from my ski class and stood there one Saturday watching and learning as people grabbed this pole, tucked it between their legs, span around and headed uphill.

It looked so daunting with this massive hill in front of my 10yo eyes but I grabbed it, somehow hooked myself on and away I went. I was now a proper skier! Today the shoe was on the other foot and I watched from distance a guy on skis as he stood at 90 degrees to the liftline, grabbed the pole, put it between his legs but then instead of swinging 90 degrees to point uphill he was swinging maybe 30 degrees and was immediately swept off his feet. He tried this 3 times without success before heading on his way towards the lodge. It was only when speaking to a friend at the weekend that we wondered if he was a snowboarder who was used to standing at a funny angle to the liftline.

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Osprey Liftline - huge as a 10yo :lol:

I stopped for lunch at 12.30 and headed into the lodge for the first time. Considering how few people were on the mountain it was fairly busy and I had to wonder how effective it would be on a busy weekend to cope with demand. A burger and chips(fries) with a can of Tennents lager came in at about £8. It was a decent enough burger and there were plenty chips.

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Burger and Beer

I ventured back out and followed the same path as the morning starting at Grouse before heading over to the Eagle and back to the Osprey for a couple of runs to finish my day at 2.45pm. The snow started coming down a little harder as the afternoon went on but I was a bit surprised when someone asked the liftie if they had heard if the access road was ok. I had had a decent 1st day back skiing in Scotland but would definitely look to buy a cheap old pair of skis on Ebay if I head back anytime soon.

I headed back to the car which was encased in a thick layer of frozen glup which I scrapped off before changing out of my gear and headed for home which is the point where things got interesting!

Around a 1/3 of the way down things changed within the space of 1 corner. A covering of brown slush changed to 6-12" of wind driven snow and a scene of carnage unfolded. A black 4x4 was off the road but looked like it had spun 180 degrees when I first looked. A little farther down a guy was stopped in the middle of road. With nowhere to go I had no option but to stop behind him and get out and help the rescue mission! It turns out the black 4x4 was heading uphill and just as we got level with the back end of his car to dig him out 2 young girls in a small car came around the corner, going too quick and they slid sideways. I've no idea how they managed to slide past the 4x4 without hitting it and as we dived for cover behind it the girls came to a stop in the ditch at 90 degrees to the road! If we had been digging and they slid differently who knows what could have happened. They just sat in the car clearly a little shaken up. It turned out the 4x4 driver was using a rental car as his new 4x4 with 1000 miles on the clock had been ran into :lol:

As the original good Samaritan got to work on the 4x4 I spoke to the girls and got them lined up and gave them instructions. When I push, get into reverse and gently work the throttle but don't overdo it and reverse into the 4x4 behind you. I then got them to move their wheel and got them lined up downhill. Next with the digging done the guy who had stopped didn't show much interest in pushing so again I was behind this big car pushing with everything I had. With wheels spinning he was off and running. Clearly still shaken up the young driver asked if we would be able to get down. "Of course we will, just keep the pace down and on the long uphill stretch ahead keep the wheels going and do not stop"

Jumping back in we got 100 yards further and found a Tesco delivery van in the ditch on the wrong side of the road, sorry pal, you are on your own. Down the hill I kept my eyes on the mirrors making sure the girls were still moving but not too fast. On the upward section I kept on ploughing on and got to the top and over where on the steepest pitch on the way up the road we met yet more carnage. Everything stopped as a big lorry had got stuck on the way up. Why on earth a lorry like that would use that road on a day like this was beyond me. With backed up traffic behind him they were now all reversing at a snails pace back towards Cockbridge. I looked in my mirrors and discovered the girls were nowhere to be seen, where the hell have they gone. A little while later I looked again and was sure I could see them 6-8 cars back and assume they must have got stuck and had someone else help them out.

Getting to the bottom of the hill sure enough here is a snowplough sitting waiting to go up! It was slow progress driving home to Aberdeen but I eventually made it and dropped off the car before heading for a well deserved dram in my local. 12yo Highland Park is pretty tasty and certainly hit the spot to end the day on a high. My first day back skiing in Scotland had certainly been eventful but it was certainly enjoyable to get some turns in. On Sunday I took my boots and skis inside and thought I would check and see it there was a size on them. Nothing on the 1st one but then I noticed a small sticker on the back of the boot. UK 11.5!! At least 1 if not 2 sizes to big! These were not my dads old boots they were my brothers! So now I need skis and boots if I am to head back there.

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A dram in my local in Aberdeen!
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Re: The Lecht, Scotland, Dec. 15, 2017

Postby Tony Crocker » Thu Dec 21, 2017 8:11 pm

Bring your real boots home from Montana this year. Get a boot bag backpack as you don't want to check them anyway. Leave the good skis in Montana and find a deal online for a decent used ski to use in Scotland.
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Re: The Lecht, Scotland, Dec. 15, 2017

Postby q » Tue Dec 26, 2017 8:32 am

I can think of nothing worse than hauling stuff back here now.

I've now sourced the actual boots I should have been given 3 years ago! Salomon XWave 8 I think they are. Will do my limited likely Scottish adventures for now :-D
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Re: The Lecht, Scotland, Dec. 15, 2017

Postby jamesdeluxe » Wed Dec 27, 2017 5:58 am

q wrote:I had another 1/2 years holiday entitlement to take in 2017

Could you explain this ^^? You have six months of accumulated holiday leave? :-k
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Re: The Lecht, Scotland, Dec. 15, 2017

Postby q » Fri Dec 29, 2017 7:40 am

Well our holiday year is the calender year and prior to June I was a contractor so took my usual six weeks off in March from entitlement I'd built up.

In June I moved to a staff position(same job and company) and roughly speaking June-Dec gave me 7/12ths of my annual vacation entitlement of 17 days or there about which I had to use before end of 2017.

In 2018 I have 30 days I think, 4 of which are used for 1st and 2nd Jan and 25th and 26th December.
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