It’s snowing at the top!

October 1st, 2008

It’s always exiting when the first snows arrive. The outside team has just radioed down to say it is snowing at the top! It’s a bit cloudy so there is not much to see, but if the forecast for the next few days is accurate we are likely to see a few white Munroes.  It’s at this time of year the hills are beginning to look their best with rich autumn colours and white tops.  Although there’s a lot of weather between now and the real winter, it’s a reminder that winter is on its way.

If you visit the web cam page you will see some new views and regular updates from both cameras. We have also installed a weather station at the tunnel mouth so you can see exactly what’s going on. These improvements are part of our on going programme to provide our winterports customers with good quality information and the best service we can.  The team is now very much focused on preparing for the winter; let’s hope it is as good as the last one. The long range is predicting a colder than average season.   Bob   

white Lady tow

September 4th, 2008

Sadly we have had to make a difficult decision not to re-instate the White Lady Tbar  in time for this winter. I know this will be a disappointment to many, particularly as during the winter, we were very much of the opinion that we should be able to repair the White lady this summer. Unfortunately the situation changed in the Spring; firstly we do not have the funds to repair the lift and secondly there has been  increasing concerns voiced by our own technical team about the extent of the work needed to repair this lift.  We therefore commissioned an external report and this was taken to our Board last week, at which we made a decision to further delay the repair/replacement of this lift. The White Lady run will continue to be serviced by both the M1 tow and the Funicular uplift and this summer repairs have been made to the “elephant fence” to help improve snow holding on this part of the mountain.  It is our policy to provide uplift that ensures skiers can make the most of what snow we get on the mountain and generally this worked very well last winter. A programme of on going investment in the skiing side of the business continues and this summer our technical operations team has carried out a full programme including  motor upgrades as well replacing ropes and general line work. We are also working on web cam and web site improvements. I will keep you updated as we make progress.  Bob     

Building and maintenance continues

September 3rd, 2008

The Ptarmigan tow hut has gone! But it will be replaced soon – this has been to do with installing new inverters on the motor system!  The drainage below the White lady tow completely failed in the spring and washed away some of the access track near the middle station.  The old drainage culvert – made of sleepers and stone was probably built around 47 years ago. We have to replace this with a new plastic pipe as you can see from the picture .  

The final picture shows the new Camera Obscura building under construction.

Bob

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August 5th, 2008

Still here! 

 It’s August already, another month of change on the mountain. The cloudberries are ripening at the moment, the heather is just about to bloom and the midges have eventually woken up. Over the next few weeks we start to experience cooler nights, and it is not unusual to get a sprinkling of snow in early September. Incidentally the final snow on the Head Wall melted on Thursday 24th July. I apologise that I have not been “on  the Blog”  over the past few weeks;  we have been catching our breath from last season and preparing for the next, as well as  running  our summer business. We have also been somewhat pre-occupied with the transition of the business to public sector ownership. The Highlands and Islands Enterprise are being incredibly supportive, with limited resources and we hope this will lead to a stronger business model on Cairn Gorm in the future. It’s very much business as usual, we tend to be busy on sunny days and quiet when it rains. Both May and June were reasonable trading months but we experienced two really wet weeks in July when numbers are normally very high. We have already hosted a number of weddings and the evening fine dinning and ceilidh nights are as popular as ever. Being open seven days a week and 3 evenings a week means that it is still a very busy time for the staff, but the main difference from the winter is that the working day tends to start later and finish later. A programme of fence repairs and tow maintenance is ongoing and we have a major Funicular service scheduled for November this year when we will be running our Christmas Market again in the T Bar during the closure. I have attached some pictures below of on going maintenance taken by Peter Malat who works with our ranger team.

Bob

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Mid summer skiing

June 24th, 2008

Weather permitting there are  normally a handful of skiing enthusiasts who make it up to enjoy the last few snow patches on the back of Cairn Gorm on mid summer’s day.  This year a dozen or so hardy skiers and boarders walked up to the patch to the east of the summit. The final remnants of the good snow this winter meant that the patch was much larger than it was at this time last year. By all accounts the vertical drop was around 100 meters.   The guys built a kicker and there were some impressive iron cross and 180 jumps. I have copied one of the photos taken by Sandy McBean below and there are some great shots on Highland Instinct- follow the link   http://www.highland-instinct.co.uk/gallery/cg/winter200708/08jun21/   Bob sandys-photo-of-the-patch-21-june-2008.jpg

The Cairngorm Classic

June 19th, 2008

These days Cairngorm Mountain is a very busy place throughout the summer, as well as our “normal” business we have lots of other things going on, and of course we are open 7 days of the week. At the week end we enjoyed hosting the inaugural Cairngorm Classic road cycling event. Promoted as UK’s highest event on a public road (632m) and held largely within the boundaries of the Cairngorms National Park, the event attracted over 350 cyclists of all standards.  The sting in the tail was the final climb up the hill road following 50 or 100 miles of cycling, depending which option you selected. Surprisingly at the Sugar Bowl section it is steeper than many alpine passes. (I took the easy option and enjoyed the 50 mile route). I am sure this event will grow in popularity – and I would like to take this opportunity to thank the organisers (for more information go to www.Handsonevents.co.uk). 

Other events coming up are:The Cairngorm Mountain Run on the 9th August – 900metres of uphill slog for the really masochistic. www.cairngormmountainrun.co.uk  and in October the popular Cairngorm Charmer adventure relay running and mountain biking event  www.thecharmer.org On Sunday 22nd June the Biathlon Roller Ski Championships.will be taking place on the hill . This is  an opportunity to see some of the UK’s top biathlon skiers on roller skis. Racing starts at 9am on the hill road and the finish is at the Coire Cas Car Park. Racing will be  between 9.30am and 11am. 

As much as we enjoy helping to organise the events, we have a business to run and these events really do help to put Cairn Gorm on the map as well as increasing sales.  On Saturday the CAS bar was as busy as a winter week end with bacon rolls and cappuccinos top of the popularity stakes on the menu!

Bob    

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Change of ownership

June 11th, 2008

As you will have seen in the press the operating company; Cairn Gorm Mountain limited is now owned by Highlands and islands Enterprise (HIE) and no longer by Cairngorm Mountain Trust.

As far as the team on site is concerned, it’s very much business as usual and we are working through our preparations for next winter as well as looking after our summer visitors.  Morale remains high as we go through these changing circumstances. I strongly believe this move is in the best interest of the company staff, our local community, the future of skiing and the protection of the environment. As we are now a subsidiary of a government agency we are directly accountable to HIE and this will inevitably mean changes in our internal operating procedures. However, there should be no noticeable effect as far as customers are concerned. During this initial phase HIE will carry out a general audit of the current operating company.  My understanding is that they are looking to restructure the operations to ensure that they can be profitable regardless of the fluctuations in our winters, a position that we have been working towards for some time.

We enjoyed excellent weather throughout May and this was reflected in above average visitor numbers, although the start of June has been a bit quieter. It will be interesting to see what the impact of the credit crunch, price of fuel and weak pound will be this summer. I attended a meeting chaired by the Minister of Tourism yesterday looking at the whole issue of sustainable tourism – in some ways we are already ahead of the game in this area, but in other ways we have a long way to go- not least of all our public transport infrastructure! 

Promises to be another full on summer.

Bob

the big spring clean

June 2nd, 2008

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Thanks to everyone who took part and to the Ski club for organising!

 

Bob

 

 

Big Spring clean

May 21st, 2008

 I am still working full on at the moment with the change of ownership  as well as some internal rerstructuring. I Promise to come back and share some of the thinking with you, but at the moment its just too early to do this………back to the mountain ….

When the snow melts we are left with too many plastic bottles and rubbish throughout the area,  although we get all the staff involved in litter sweeps, particullarly around the buildings  we are now taking part in a  ” Big Spring Claen” inititiave and would like to encourage everyone  to get involved.

CairnGorm Mountain in association with the Ski Club of Great Britain are inviting the public to come and take part in the “Big Spring Clean”. This massive rubbish sweep of the CairnGorm Ski Area will take place on Sunday 1st June 2008. A great opportunity to do your bit for the environment and the mountain. Come and resigter in the Base Station at Coire Cas any time between 10am and 2pm on Sunday 1st June 2008.

It’s a fact, that one cigarette butt pollutes upwards of 1 cubic metre of water, a coke can takes over 200 years to decompose and even orange peel will not disappear in less than a year. All these items, and many more are found on CairnGorm’s slopes and path network along with the ubiquitous crisp packet and plastic bottle. All volunteers will be given bin bags, gloves and litter pickers when they reigster as well as a respect the mountain wristband. There will also be a prize for the person picking up the most litter plus free tea and cake for all volunteers.  The ‘Big Spring Clean’, is part of the Ski Club’s Respect the Mountain campaign (www.respectthemountain.com). We are  delighted to be a host venue and it’s a great opportunity for everyone to have a fun day out in the mountains whilst contributing to the well-being of the land by picking up as much litter as possible. The event, as well as helping the sustainability of the mountains and the wildlife, aims to raise awareness about responsible tourism and send a message to all mountain visitors about the seriousness of dropping litter. Similar projects run in the French Alps have seen shocking results with twenty tons of rubbish being picked up by volunteers in forty-one resorts in 2007.  Caroline Stuart Taylor, Chief Executive of the Ski Club explained the reason behind event: “Since the launch of our Respect the Mountain campaign in 2004 the Ski Club has been proactive in educating and raising awareness about what people can do to try and safeguard mountain environments. The ‘Big Spring Clean’ will help to raise awareness in our own country, promoting sustainability in the Scottish resorts and encourage mountain users to do their bit to help preserve their mountains.” 

For more information on the ‘Big Spring Clean’ visit www.skiclub.co.uk or for more information on the Respect the Mountain Campaign visit www.respectthemountain.com

Bob

CAS Head wall sweepstake

May 14th, 2008

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 At this time of year our ranger team organise a staff sweepstake on how long it will take for all the snow to disappear from the Headwall of the CAS. Up until recent years there have been records of snow patches lasting through the summer in the Cairngorms, but this is now very unusual given the changes to our climate that we are currently experiencing. The earliest day all the snow has melted is the 7th June and the latest has been the 28th July. It is  possible to get fresh snow on the tops any month of the year  and  I know at least one person who has skied  (albeit on small patches of snow at times ) every month of the year.  It is not unusual for keen skiers to find a patch  on midsummer’s day . 

Next week we have a meeting with the other ski areas to look at how we can work together to help promote and develop Scottish skiing. These meetings take place in the spring and autumn.  This year we ended the season with just over 62,000 skier days, that’s around 37% of the Scottish ski market. Last year we had around 50% of the market, but that was unusual as our normal market-share is approximately 32%. 

Through the summer I plan to post blogs to keep you updated on what’s happening here on the mountain, but not quite as frequently as in the winter. We will be working on some major modifications to the web site – your feedback has been most helpful in telling us what does and does not work.  Thank you Bob