Skiing In Scotland

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re: Skiing In Scotland

Postby Tony Crocker » Thu Apr 17, 2008 10:54 am

Observatory? Many analogies to Mt. Washington I suspect. Terrain, wind, skew to late season.
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re: Skiing In Scotland

Postby HighRustler » Fri Apr 18, 2008 2:08 am

Observatory Gully is named after the observatory that existed at the top from 1883 to 1904. It was manned full time and weather observations were made hourly. It closed due to a lack of funding.

The polar explorer Scott obtained permission for a member of his team to use the observatory to test out equipment prior to a visit to the Antarctic so maybe that tells you the type of conditions that can be experienced there mid winter!

I skied Gullies 3 and 5 last April and still have Tower on my to do list. Maybe this year :)

As you suggested wind speeds can almost approach Mt Washington type speeds at the summit during storms but I've always managed to ski or climb it in fairly benign conditions.
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Re: Skiing In Scotland

Postby q » Fri Oct 31, 2008 11:03 am

Well, who needs a combined 6 trails and handful of lifts open in Colorado?

The Lecht opened today :P
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Re: Skiing In Scotland

Postby q » Sat Nov 28, 2009 4:10 am

Cairngorm became the first area to open in Scotland this year. Forecast is for more snow and strong north winds so should remain cold enough.
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Re: Skiing In Scotland

Postby q » Tue Jun 22, 2010 4:42 am

Cairngorm finally shut down for the season yesterday after the best season I think since round 1985 I think. Lift served skiing on the longest day, in Scotland. Who needs Snowbird......
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Re: Skiing In Scotland

Postby Admin » Tue Jun 22, 2010 6:51 am

Heard that they used portable rope tows? True?
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Re: Skiing In Scotland

Postby q » Tue Jun 22, 2010 3:38 pm

Yeah, definately the case.

I'd imagine that they served something like a hundred metres of terrain that would barely be downhill but hey, some people enjoy it.

I will stick to my Montana and Utah turns. Don't even have skis or boots in the UK now.
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Re: Skiing In Scotland

Postby HighRustler » Wed Jun 23, 2010 12:08 pm

Hi Admin,

Yes, portable tows were used. I skied on Sunday, it was just a bit of end of season fun really, nothing in comparison to what you guys have. The best run was actually at a lower altitude than the tows, so you had to walk down to the snow from above...odd feeling! The Ciste gully had 750ft of vertical, with snow lying down to 2100ft - pretty amazing for the end of June.

Here is a link to some pics from Sun
http://www.winterhighland.info/pix/pixa ... pix_id=650

This Winter has been the best in living memory in Scotland. We have always had great terrain but highly variable snowfall. This year the snow came from unusual directions, east and north and it just kept coming steadily throughout the winter.

q, I wouldn't give up skiing here quite yet. Here is a selection of some of my best days skiing this winter. All shots have been taken either within a ski area or touring/hiking to nearby mountains from a ski area. The pics are not always in sequence but it gives you an indication why I still ski here as well as Europe and the US.

Glencoe 23rd Jan
http://www.winterhighland.info/publicre ... 1890#start

Nevis Range 20th Feb - Back Corries
http://www.winterhighland.info/publicre ... 2027#start

Nevis Range 21st Feb- Back Corries
http://www.winterhighland.info/publicre ... 2036#start

Nevis Range 5th April - Back Corries
http://www.winterhighland.info/publicre ... 2215#start

Cairngorms 11th April - 4 grade 1 gully's epic.
http://www.winterhighland.info/touring/ ... 2242#start

Nevis Range (incl hike to Carn Mor Dearg) 12th April
http://www.winterhighland.info/touring/ ... 2243#start

and finally here is a little video one of my friends took on the weekend of the 20th/21st Feb.

http://vimeo.com/9654022

Hope to see you on the slopes next winter!
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Re: Skiing In Scotland

Postby Tony Crocker » Wed Jun 23, 2010 3:36 pm

I for one am impressed with the terrain in those pics. I think q is nuts to turn his nose up at that quality of skiing within daytrip distance.
High Rustler wrote:We have always had great terrain but highly variable snowfall.

Sounds like a description of Mt. Baldy. You don't want to plan your ski seasons around it, but when it's there you should take advantage.

I do have a basic question for High Rustler. What is the access to terrain in those pics? Slackcountry from lift served skiing, or is it all earned turns?
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Re: Skiing In Scotland

Postby HighRustler » Wed Jun 23, 2010 5:34 pm

Hi Tony,

Thanks for the comments, much appreciated.

All of the Glencoe terrain is accessed directly from the top T bar with no more than 2-3 mins traversing east or west to reach the terrain featured.

The Nevis Range terrain is also lift accessed. 5-10 mins fairly level walk from the summit poma depending on where you choose to drop in. There is a chair to aid return, but it does not bring you back directly to the top of the mountain. To return to the summit involves a 20 minute descending traverse to the frontside of the mountain then 20 mins ascent via 3 lifts. Just over 60 mins per lap - so no opportunity to do huge vertical but fresh tracks can be found all day long if there has been recent snowfall. The pics of Nevis Range show descents of Spikes(2),Easy Gully(3) and and the area around Climbers col (4) on the map below.

aonachmor.jpg
Nevis Range Back Corries ski map
aonachmor.jpg (75.59 KiB) Viewed 6682 times


Cairngorms terrain was accessed by skinning up for an hour from the ski area car park before the lifts opened - taking the funicular would reduce this to 10 mins hiking. Once there, it's 10 mins on skis across a plateau before accessing the first gully (Diagonal Gully) Skiing Diagonal leaves you in the Loch Avon basin 40 mins skinning or hiking from the ski area. The next two gully's - Castlegates and Pinnacle are a further 50 mins hiking away. The final gully - Alladin's Couloir is close to the ski area. 10-15 mins from the summit. We skinned back to it on our return. Total ascent was around 5000ft to ski all four gullies and took around 9 hours. A map of
Alladin's couloir is featured below (no3 on the map)

sneachda.jpg
Coire an t Sneachda
sneachda.jpg (49.24 KiB) Viewed 6682 times


Carn Mor Dearg is around 90 mins from the summit of the Nevis Range ski area and involves hiking a ridge to the summit. Very seldom skied but very worthwhile in the right conditions. Maps are courtesy of Highland Instinct (cheers Jamie!)

All of these areas are between 90 mins to 150 from my doorstep so I can easily leave my decision to go until the night before and travel up and back on the same day. Scotland is not a ski destination, but if you know where to go and are fortunate enough to get the right conditions it can be a very interesting place to ski.
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Re: Skiing In Scotland

Postby EMSC » Thu Jun 24, 2010 10:39 am

Also find the pics fairly impressive for someplace not particularly known for skiing. With the variable snow, how often skiable? Every year, but for only short periods? I assume even the easy to get to runs such as Nevis you are on your own avalanche wise (not controlled in any way, as is the European norm).

I'd heard about the big snows in the UK this year (work trips by others in our company, etc...), but never have really seen much for pics of the potential.
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Re: Skiing In Scotland

Postby HighRustler » Thu Jun 24, 2010 12:05 pm

EMSC,

All of the terrain featured in the pics is very rocky so requires a reasonable depth of snow to make it skiable. This year most of the terrain has been skiable from Dec to May but normally it would be Feb to late April or May. Before Feb there is usually skiable terrain but not always some of the steeper lines. Even in lean years most of what I have featured can be skied, if only for a much shorter period. Experience and local knowledge helps greatly in determining what can be skied and when. (pretty much like everywhere else I suppose!)

The Scottish Avalanche information service provide daily avalanche reports across 5 separate mountainous areas in Scotland from Dec to April and this is an invaluable resource for skiing here. There is very little avalanche control so skiing is very much at your own risk. I always take my shovel, probe and transceiver. We have more avalanches here than many people think, so it's very useful to be aware of how the snowpack was formed, weak layers etc Wind plays a huge factor in shaping the large cornices that form and a lot of avalanches are as a result of windslab. Two experienced skiers I know were caught in a 1000ft slide in February this year but thankfully apart from a busted knee and broken skis they were ok. The mountains here are small but not without danger.

I should add that Coire Dubh (featured on the Nevis Range map) is avalanche controlled whereas Coire an Lochain is treated as backcountry. The avalanche control is fairly basic compared to the US. As far as I'm aware explosives haven't been used for a few years (possible issues with obtaining a licence to store the explosives etc, but I'm not sure TBH) Ski patrol will remove weak cornices etc and put up bulletin boards with advice. Given the limited resources they have they do a very good job.
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Re: Skiing In Scotland

Postby Tony Crocker » Thu Aug 19, 2010 11:38 am

A review of this thread and pics reminds me some of my Australia and New Zealand experiences. Scotland's weather is probably worse on average and the scale of NZ backcountry is much bigger, but the surface lifts, in-bounds topography and avy control issues seem similar to what I observed recently at the NZ club areas. I'm guessing the larger drive-up population base would make the better winter weekends much busier, more like Australia.
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Re: Skiing In Scotland

Postby Patrick » Fri Aug 20, 2010 2:33 pm

Tony Crocker wrote:I'm guessing the larger drive-up population base would make the better winter weekends much busier, more like Australia.

I don't know about that? Most people I meet from England during trips out Western Canada or the Alps, mentioned there never ski at home. Yes, I did asked them about Scotland.

Scotland (even prior to this post) have been on a list of places I'd like to ski. I guess you could put on ...island skiing category. I've skied on the Laval and Montreal islands... other islands that would be fun to skied on: North, South, Hokaido, Scotland, Iceland and Hawaii, etc...

Oh yeah, thanks High Rustler for the beta.
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