Skiing in the Cairngorms

December 21, 2010

As a wintery grip takes hold of the country over winter a group of us decided to head north to go skiing. The journey up was fine and only the very last roads were not cleared but this wasn’t too much of an issue. We stayed in Nethy Bridge just north of Aviemore in a hostel which we had to ourselves.

The first day we decided to head to the Lecht ski resort, this was so that the beginners in the group could have an easy day on the less busy slopes. The road to the Lecht however, is long, windy and worsrt of all very hilly. This caused numerous problems and we ended up having to push the cars and the minibus up numerous hills to get there. The worst hill was the one going to the ski centre which we saw a few cars struggle with before the gritters came and tried to clear it for us. Even then, complete with a police escort, it still took all of us to push up large sections of the hill. By the time we got to the top we all deserved a day skiing!

The road to the Lecht

Once we were t the Lecht, the slopes were inevitably quiet, which was great. It’s a fairly small resort but gave everyone a chance to remember how to ski. Throughout the whole day the visibility was terrible but that didn’t stop anyone enjoying the day and wanting to do more the next day.

Typical visibility throughout the day

On the way back back we luckily found an alternative route that followed a river and was significantly flatter as there was one hill we came down on the was that we knew we couldn’t get back up.

The following day we headed to Cairngorm Mountain, a much larger resort so that we could do more varied and longer runs. There was no trouble getting to the carpark this time as they couldn’t afford the road to not be open on probably one of the busiest days of the year. A piste map can be found here.

We took the funicular to the top (1097m) where it was a chilly -10°C and with the wind chill this dropped to -30°C. Nevertheless we quickly began to head down to where the wind was less and the visibility better.

Chilling out at the top

There was a great range of runs as can be seen on the piste map, I stayed on the blues and greens and had a great time. The length and variety of the runs meant that you could take multiple routes down the mountain and keep entertained. It was quite busy and I took a fall trying to avoid someone of one of the narrower sections but it was straight into a pile of soft snow so I wasn’t too fussed!

Dom on the lower slopes

After stopping for lunch we began asking ‘Where’s Caitlin?’ a question that we would continue to ask until we got off around 3.  We eventually found Caitlin after we found out she had been taken to hospital after crashing and fracturing a cheekbone, leaving her with a nice black eye to take home for Christmas. She had been looked after by someone else in the group and the ski patrol so she was in relatively high spirits considering.

The drive back we took slow with news of heavy snow on the radio and it definitely came down hard while we drove past Perth but we all made it home safely and we were all glad to be in the warm! I think everyone now plans to go back sometime in the New Year with one obvious exception…