UKC

Scottish skiing winter 20/21

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The European 2020-2021 ski season will in all likelihood be tricky for Brits to get a slice of.

This got me thinking about Scottish skiing and whether they might Invest to drag the experience of skiing in Scotland into the 21st century.

Forlorn hope or a real possibility?

5
 Doug 30 Sep 2020
In reply to nickinscottishmountains:

Isn't it a bit late for this season? Whatever work needed doing should have been done during the summer.

In reply to Doug:

Yes and no.

How long would it take to instal a modern ticket system as opposed to those wires and stickers?

How long would it take to revamp the so called cafés?

How long would it take to change the menu in the so called cafés?

How hard is it to install debit card payments in all the so called cafés?

Small changes add up but they seem to want to be very firmly stuck in the 70s. 

2
 OwenM 30 Sep 2020
In reply to nickinscottishmountains:

That would take money and reliable internet connection. They have neither. 

In reply to OwenM:

> That would take money and reliable internet connection. They have neither. 

They have all that metal work and no 4g mast... primitive. 

Post edited at 19:43
 MG 30 Sep 2020
In reply to nickinscottishmountains:

> Forlorn hope or a real possibility?

They have had 30+ years so Im guessing not likely. Jerry-built low capacity funicular however...

 Webster 30 Sep 2020
In reply to nickinscottishmountains:

> Yes and no.

> How long would it take to instal a modern ticket system as opposed to those wires and stickers?

what use is that? there are no ticket barriers once on the mountain anyway.

> How long would it take to revamp the so called cafés?

glencoe base cafe was excellent until it sadly burnt down...

> How long would it take to change the menu in the so called cafés?

what do you want? fondu? how many people are going to shell out for something fancy like that! cant go wrong with burger and chips.

> How hard is it to install debit card payments in all the so called cafés?

very. if it was easy they would have done it already! most ski centres are in the middle of nowhere...

> Small changes add up but they seem to want to be very firmly stuck in the 70s. 

with what money do you propose they invest? they have already had a bad winter followed by premature closre due to covid. since reopening bussiness has been hit by all the extra covid restrictions... now is hardly the time to be splashing the cash. besides, they have all invested in new infrastructure over the last 5 years (except cairngorm who seem to have shit everything down the pan...), but with such a non-future proof industry, it is hardly a safe bussiness proposition to be throwing money at.

5
 Webster 30 Sep 2020
In reply to nickinscottishmountains:

just go and show your support and spend some money up there if a winter comes this year. and if you have the choice, give your money to glencoe and glenshee, who are doing their best to make improvements and care about their snowsports customers, and not just lazy cake eating tourists (cant comment on the lecht, never been, they may well be worthy of your money too).

1
 Darron 30 Sep 2020
In reply to nickinscottishmountains:

If they get snow Scotland will likely have the best season ever - visitor numbers this summer indicate that. There will be massive demand. However, as always,........if they get snow.

 Le Sapeur 30 Sep 2020
In reply to nickinscottishmountains:

Forlorn hope. Investment is the problem. Scottish winters are so unreliable. Save your cash for a COVID free 2022 and have a proper ski holiday without gale force winds and skiing on grass, rocks and ice. 

8
 TheGeneralist 01 Oct 2020
In reply to Darron:

> If they get snow Scotland will likely have the best season ever - visitor numbers this summer indicate that. There will be massive demand. However, as always,........if they get snow.

Erm. I think you'll find it's the wind that causes a lot of the problems.

And to the person whining about the lack of frilly infrastructure.  There isn't money available since the scum in charge of Cairgorm pissed it up the wall on that damnable funicular.

1
In reply to nickinscottishmountains:

Those suggesting the scottish ski "resorts" are stuck in the 70s are being generous. 60s more like. Folk have been able to fly to Europe for less money and get better skiing for the last 30+ years. 

Most have had a strategy revolving around a third of the year at best having something remotely skiable, the rest of the year goes to waste. They should have been developing mtb, paragliding, walking, mountain cabin accommodation, decent cafe food folk will travel for etc..

Many are in good locations, reasonable road structure, great views, natural resources... and completely miss the boat in so many ways. Do they really have IT so bad they can't run a card payment system?!? 

3
 Mike-W-99 01 Oct 2020
In reply to summo:

> Do they really have IT so bad they can't run a card payment system?!? 

Doubt thats the issue, I think all but possibly the lecht have decent 4g/adsl nowadays. 

1
In reply to summo:

The lack of good lift service MTB at some of the scottish resorts is criminal. The ones that have it offer very few trails for you journey up there, you would think that they would be falling over themselves to match bike park Wales, who don't even have a chair lift never mind a gondola.

1
 galpinos 01 Oct 2020
In reply to Le Sapeur:

What a pessimistic post! Scottish skiing is risky for " a weeks family holiday" but for a weekend dash, I find it hard to beat. I think it's the combination of it being Scotland, the fact conditions aren't always great means when they are they're extra special, there's a magic of actually skiing on Ben Nevis, swooping down No.4, that I don't feel in a ski resort*, the west coast, when you a skiing a line with snowy mountains all around and the sea and the islands in clear view it's an experience that can't be matched in the Alps**.

Even when it's not primo conditions, I still enjoy it:

https://www.instagram.com/p/B-b4rnFDz_v/?utm_source=ig_web_button_share_sheet

*I do feel it when touring, but Scotland still feels "more special"

**Never skied on the west coast of Norway but I imagine it would comparable

 Webster 01 Oct 2020
In reply to summo:

UMM what are you on? in nevis range we have the best publicly available DH track in the world, and in glencoe we have probably one of the hardest publicly available DH tracks in the world! plus all the other trails which are improving and increasing year on year. Both offer tons of lift accessed walking oportunities year round, as well as sight seeing, nature trails, high ropes (nevis), tubing (coe) etc etc. the less said about cairngorm the better, but lecht and glenshee arent beauty spots in the same sense so have less oportunities to attract summer visitors. they could develop mountainbiking, but it wont be anywhere near as good, so they would struggle to attract visitors and would likely make a loss on their investment.

1
 Doug 01 Oct 2020
In reply to galpinos:

The best of Scottish skiing is touring/ski-mountaineering which means inaccessible to the majority of skiers who never venture beyound the ski areas. It also favours those who live nearby & those who can take days off midweek when conditions are good.

Many years ago I returned from a week touring in the Alps on the Austrain/Swiss border & the following weekend skied the Cairngorm Four (Cairngorm, Ben Macdhui, Cairn Toul, Braeriach) in great conditions. The Cairngorm day was better than any we had in the Alps, with highlights such as skiing down into the Larig Ghru & skiing of Braeriach as the sun was starting to set. Such days may be few but they stay in the memory more than most.

But the way Cairngorm in particular has been 'managed' is a disgrace

 Webster 01 Oct 2020
In reply to galpinos:

indeed. i have lived in chamonix for 2 years and still not skid anything anywhere near as good as some of the things i have done in scotland!

4
 Webster 01 Oct 2020
In reply to Doug:

not exclusively, more so in the east, but in the west, the side country is world class, and even in bounds at glencoe htere is some outstanding lines. think thrombosis and the canyon, but also the dark side on the carpark runs, and the whole east ridge/flypaper area. skiing from the summit, down the flypaper bowl, rankins return and the weasel all the way down to the west highland way below the car park is one of the best things i have ever done on snow, and with over 700m of vertical it matches many things in the rest of the world. and as for the back corries...

1
In reply to Webster:

Having one world cup run for the last 20 years doesn't bring in the same revenue as have a green, blue and red run would over the same period. 

The fact it's publically funded is great. They proved the potential two decades ago using taxpayers money then done what? 

It's not a matter of competing, the resort's would all be different. Different style of run, technical single track in forest, machine made big berms and jumps, flowing easy greens etc.  They would put Scotland on the map and you could even have a special week long multi venue pass. 

Imagine running from near cairngorm summit pretty much all the way into aviemore, with a changing style of trail and terrain as you went. 

1
 Doug 01 Oct 2020
In reply to Webster:

You are right, most of my Scottish lift served skiing has been in the east but I did ski at Glencoe & Aonach Mor quite a bit one winter when working near Oban & have some good memories of skiing in the back corries of Aonach Mor (no lifts then) & of a great run down from the top of the Glencoe lifts down into Glen Etive. That was with mist/low cloud coming & going so very atmospheric, especially when we stopped to watch a pair of Golden Eagles in what I assume was some form of mating display.

In reply to Doug:

Touring isn't really the same as comparing costs or quality of lift served Scottish and alpine skiing. If i wanted touring I'd argue Norway is ahead of the alps and Scotland, and that's without even considering their hut system. 

 kathrync 01 Oct 2020
In reply to Mike-W-99:

> Doubt thats the issue, I think all but possibly the lecht have decent 4g/adsl nowadays. 

Glencoe struggles with frequent outages. I don't know how they are connected, but their Facebook page has frequent updates along the lines of "Network down again, please phone us if you need information and bring cash if you are visiting" presumably posted from employees' phones. Although they have a card payment system, I tend to take cash anyway as waiting for the connection is interminably slow!

 kathrync 01 Oct 2020
In reply to galpinos:

> What a pessimistic post! Scottish skiing is risky for " a weeks family holiday" but for a weekend dash, I find it hard to beat.

Completely agree! I love skiing in the alps, but my best skiing memories are all from weekend dashes in Scotland. Of course, living close enough to be able to take advantage helps!  I would never recommend anyone come here solely for a skiing holiday though, conditions are just too temperamental for that.

1
 kathrync 01 Oct 2020
In reply to TheGeneralist:

> Erm. I think you'll find it's the wind that causes a lot of the problems.

Yes, many of the resorts lose a lot of days when underfoot conditions are good because they can't run uplift in the wind.  Resorts where skiing from the carpark is either very limited or non-existant are particularly affected. From a personal perspective, I know which resorts are likely to be ok and which are likely to struggle in different conditions, so I can pick my venue appropriately - but frustrating for those visiting from further afield, and I'm sure very frustrating for the resorts too.

 TheGeneralist 01 Oct 2020
In reply to Webster:

> ...the dark side on the carpark runs

Oh hell yes. That glorious day of days a few years back when we slept in the car park and the next day the road got blocked by skidding  cars.  They had just enough staff to open the access chair and we spent the morning lapping the dark side.  Utterly mind-blowing ly the best day skiing ever.

In reply to Webster:

> what do you want? fondu? how many people are going to shell out for something fancy like that! cant go wrong with burger and chips.

No, fondue is not what I'm taking about. Fondue is the polar opposite end of the spectrum in terms of what they offer. There's a large amount of middle ground between fondue and the lorne sausage with chips end of the market that they have chosen. They could raise the bar a bit.

> with what money do you propose they invest? 

It's a golden opportunity to make Scottish skiing an attractive option. There won't be a better lucky break for Scottish skiing than this coming winter. If they don't invest to make it attractive, it's just another nail in the coffin.

3
 TheGeneralist 01 Oct 2020
In reply to nickinscottishmountains:

I think you're completely missing the point of Scottish skiing. Completely.

People go there because it's close, or it's quiet midweekor there's just  been a huge dump of snow, or to jump the cornice on the Back Corries or do do one of the steepest black runs in Europe, or because they want a trip away for a few days, or to experience the sheer joy of skiing the full length of the Ciste Gilly with their 5&7 year old kids, or to hike repeatedly to the top of the 'Gorm on a glorious May powder day to lap the Coronation Wall, or to experience the fear and mind bending adrenaline rush of looking over the Easy Gully cornice for a few seconds before taking the leap and swooping wildly down the gully and across to the bottom of the Braveheart Chair with the adrenaline rush blowing their head off.

They do it for the occasional stolen days when the forecast is pisch but they go anyway and the rain turns to snow halfway up the lift and they have a glorious day in the area they love and have been coming back to repeatedly for 1/4 or even 1/2 a century.

Ask those people what would stop them coming back:

* Lack of snow

*Ice

* High wind

* Rain

* Scum in charge of Cairngorm

* Lack of uplift (see above)

* SNH

* And weirdly enough, this year it ended up being Covid

The quality of the food on offer in the cafe just doesn't come into it.  On a good day in Scotland you don't GAS about the cuisine.  On a bad day in Scotland even the best food in the world ( which by definition would be in the base station at this point) wouldn't make a shit day any better.

By all means spend some money sorting the lifts, getting Kunstschnee or bringing a civil prosecution against SNH for misconduct in public office, but don't worry about the square slice in the cafe.

IMHO

Post edited at 19:38
2
In reply to TheGeneralist:

But a decent cafe or restaurant open year round, plus more year round activities, help keep the wheels on the wagon and the staff in jobs, even when a winter provides very little snow, or it all blows away. Having this might keep the resort's ticking over and enable those in striking distance to seize those precious days in the future. 

 TheGeneralist 01 Oct 2020
In reply to summo:

Totally agree about the year round activities bit.  Just not bothered about spending money on the cafes.

Alas thanks to the nightmare compromise that Cairngorm agreed when building the White Elephantt that is not an option.

 pec 01 Oct 2020
In reply to TheGeneralist:

> People go there because . . . . . .  do one of the steepest black runs in Europe,

Could I ask which one that is?

I've probably skied it but I can't think which it is.

 Doug 02 Oct 2020
In reply to pec:

Several GlenShee regulars have frequently told me that the Tiger is the steepest black in Europe, I'm not convinced but never really checked.

 doz 02 Oct 2020
In reply to Doug:

Definitely not!

Iciest possibly.....

 DaveHK 02 Oct 2020
In reply to Doug:

> Several GlenShee regulars have frequently told me that the Tiger is the steepest black in Europe, I'm not convinced but never really checked.

Don't most resorts have a 'steepest in Europe'?

 Misha 02 Oct 2020
In reply to nickinscottishmountains:

I doubt Scottish skiing is a viable commercial proposition in view of climate change - how many ski days have there been in an average season over the last, say, 10 years and how many of those have coincided with weekends and holidays? I just can't seen any commercial lenders / investors putting money into it. That leaves various government bodies and they probably have more viable projects to invest in.

Besides, I fully expect Nicola would introduce local travel restrictions similar to Wales. Not expecting to do any winter climbing as a result.

If I did want to go skiing, I'd go to the Alps for a couple of weeks (as long as I wouldn't have to quarantine over there), have a good time and then do the two week quarantine back home (easy as I'm WFH - appreciate this isn't the case for everyone but I suspect the proportion of people who can WFH is fairly high among the typical demographic who go skiing abroad). Better than going to Scotland and potentially getting nothing done.

Post edited at 08:24
3
 Webster 02 Oct 2020
In reply to pec:

flypaper. average gradient of about 45/50deg depending on buildup

 galpinos 02 Oct 2020
In reply to Webster:

Wow. If that's true, it's steeper than any run in Europe by about 10 degrees!

 kathrync 02 Oct 2020
In reply to galpinos:

> Wow. If that's true, it's steeper than any run in Europe by about 10 degrees!

I've heard 43 quoted for Flypaper, but of course this does depend on how it banks out on a given year.  In the same ballpark as Webster's figures.  I can confirm that it is by far the scariest thing I have ever skied on marked terrain!

Post edited at 12:22
 Doug 02 Oct 2020
In reply to kathrync:

The SMC guide to Scottish ski touring gives two lists of 'steepness', one for pistes, the other for well known off piste descents. The Tiger is listed as 27° (steepest on the short list) but the Flypaper is not listed; if its 40° plus that means its steeper than Alladins Couloir & many other 'steep' descents.

 DaveHK 02 Oct 2020
In reply to Doug:

> The Tiger is listed as 27° (steepest on the short list) but the Flypaper is not listed; if its 40° plus that means its steeper than Alladins Couloir & many other 'steep' descents.

The Flypaper isn't usually pisted so it shouldn't be on any list of steepest pisted runs.

It might well be steeper overall than Aladdin's but it's a big open slope with a good run out so it's not very serious.

TBH I don't actually remember the Flypaper feeling very steep but there's obviously a degree of subjectivity.

 DaveHK 02 Oct 2020
In reply to Webster:

> flypaper. average gradient of about 45/50deg depending on buildup

Having skied it a few times I find that hard to believe. 50 degrees is proper steep.

 galpinos 02 Oct 2020
In reply to Doug:

> The SMC guide to Scottish ski touring gives two lists of 'steepness', one for pistes, the other for well known off piste descents. The Tiger is listed as 27° (steepest on the short list) but the Flypaper is not listed; if its 40° plus that means its steeper than Alladins Couloir & many other 'steep' descents.

Steeper than No.4 and Easy Gully too! (Cornice entry excepted)

 facet 02 Oct 2020
In reply to Webster:

Good to hear! I agree, when Scotland is in, it's world class. It helps if you live here.. in fact I hope not too many folk read the positive stuff on here.

Yeah it's rubbish, don't bother with Scottish skiing peeps

 DaveHK 02 Oct 2020
In reply to facet:

> Yeah it's rubbish, don't bother with Scottish skiing peeps

Your wink implies you're being ironic but actually for the overwhelming majority of skiers it's excellent advice.

1
In reply to facet:

> Good to hear! I agree, when Scotland is in, it's world class. 

 

World class poma riding

2
 CathS 02 Oct 2020
In reply to nickinscottishmountains:

The Car Park 'Red' at Glencoe is one of the finest combat itineraries in Europe.   You even get applause from people on the chairlift if you make it to the bottom in one piece!

 TheGeneralist 02 Oct 2020
In reply to DaveHK:

> Having skied it a few times I find that hard to believe. 50 degrees is proper steep.

Agreed, I think someone is getting percent and degrees mixed up.

1
 Mike-W-99 02 Oct 2020
In reply to CathS:

It’s still quicker than downloading on the chair though, mind you so is walking sometimes

 Webster 02 Oct 2020
In reply to DaveHK:

the flypaper is never pisted. but there are lots of runs in scotland which are 'on piste' but often unpisted, so that destinction doesnt really work... it is however a marked and patrolled piste.

and to the doubters. bear in mid the steepest pitch is only very short, with a very mellow runout (when there is lots of snow), plus it is a big wide bowl, not a narrow gully. so it will'feel' less steep than say an alladins couloir. but having skid/boarded it countless times, and having climbed many a grade I gully, it is definitely steeper than most 'steep gully' lines. and if you still dont believe me, just ask ski patrol!

 Fiona Reid 02 Oct 2020
In reply to DaveHK:

> It might well be steeper overall than Aladdin's but it's a big open slope with a good run out so it's not very serious.

The day we were lapping it we witnessed someone falling and going about half way down on their back. It took her a long time to stop! You'd not want to fall if it was icy but they rarely open it then

It was beautiful weather, granular spring snow, the lass that fell was skiing in a T-shirt... she ended up with some bloody elbows from the granular snow but otherwise unscathed. Her mates had yelled at her to kick her remaining ski off (one came off when she fell) so thankfully no leg issues.

I've descended The Tiger on my backside after a binding issue (din set wrong, hit a bump bye bye skis). You don't stop till pretty much the bottom! 

In reply to summo:

You're right..Nevis Range missed a trick by not installing easier runs,however it's on with one now.

Having done the DH and Top Chief,these wouldn't  be suitable to attract the majority.

Scottish Skiing will always be working against the elements but it has the potential to adapt,MTB is one such avenue. 

Post edited at 10:04
In reply to nickinscottishmountains:

I think they've got enough on adapting to changes necessary to run with the Covid Restrictions.

The skier hirer shop at Nevis is revamping to accommodate 'one way'.

Potentially this season could bring in the punters.

🤞..we don't have travel.restrictions.

In reply to Webster:

It’s listed as 40deg at the steepest point. On skis 50deg is proper proper steep. At 50deg you can touch the slope and would never stop if you fell. Think 2nd ice field on Eiger.

 andyr 03 Oct 2020
In reply to Webster:

> UMM what are you on? in nevis range we have the best publicly available DH track in the world, and in glencoe we have probably one of the hardest publicly available DH tracks in the world! plus all the other trails which are improving and increasing year on year. 

Nevis has a justified reputation as a race venue because it encourages you to go fast; rather than being overly technical. Glencoe is difficult because it's steep and technical; much of which comes from a lack of maintenance and ongoing erosion rather than a good line. It's just not up there with a lot of the good difficult technical lines in Europe. Both represent the problem Scottish lift accessed biking has. Out in Europe there's thousands of bikers on blues and reds. Spend a day at Bike Park Wales and the uplift vans are full but you're usually alone on the blacks. Blues, reds and (Italian) blacks are where the riders and the income are; and Scottish bike Centres barely cater for them. They have the terrain but appear to lack the will/means to invest. It's like a climbing wall which only sets problems above V6 and the owners don't understand why it's very very quite every day. Shortly before the Cairngorm 'franchise' came up I had a conversation with a couple of people from Serco, who were considering being one of the bidders. They completely grasped the concept of developing biking based around the funicular and using terrain already disfigured by the ski infrastructure. They knew HIE would oppose it.

 Webster 03 Oct 2020
In reply to andyr:

they simply havent got the terrain and weather conditions to build a plethora of smooth flowy blues like you find in bike parks on the continent. its just too harsh a landscape and environment. sure they could hellicopter up a load of nice topsoil/fine gravel to build trails with, but after 1 winter it would all be eroded away down to the rough stuff and you are back to square 1. it just simply wouldnt be cost effective. at nevis now they do have a load of green/blue/red trails below the top fire road, some of which are smooth and flowy like the trails you desire. they can build them there due to the shallower gradient and protection from the elements, but to continue them up all the way to the top would just be too much hard work.

In reply to.

Nevis doesn't have a load of green/blue/red runs.

They are in the process of building a blue which will start at the top of the mountain.

I was chatting with one of the guys from the centre and they are able to build it using materials already on the mountain....ie below the surface,which have ben dug out.

In reply to Webster:

> they simply havent got the terrain and weather conditions to build a plethora of smooth flowy blues like you find in bike parks on the continent. its just too harsh a landscape and environment. 

https://www.skistar.com/en/Summer/summer-in-are/biking/are-bike-park

Look at the ratio though, black represent only 25% of the runs. If you get the numbers you can afford to employ folk to maintain the trails, put in drainage etc. 

1
 andyr 03 Oct 2020
In reply to Webster:

They manage it in Norway, Canada and the Alps; all of which have equally challenging terrain and climate. Snow cover, avalanche, massive freeze thaw cycles, torrential rain, baking sun etc etc.  It doesn't have to be 'park smooth'. It just needs thoughtful use of the terrain. Designs that work with, rather than fight the depredations of weather; allied with the will to invest and maintain.

 Dogwatch 03 Oct 2020
In reply to Philb1950:

> It’s listed as 40deg at the steepest point. On skis 50deg is proper proper steep. At 50deg you can touch the slope and would never stop if you fell. 

<pedant>You'd stop. Somewhere, somehow, eventually.</pedant>

1
 Webster 03 Oct 2020
In reply to Shaun mcmurrough:

yes they do, have you been there recently? they have built at least 5 new trails on the lower section over the last 2 or 3 years, voodoo, blue adder, a red continuation to top chief plus more since i was last there.

 Webster 03 Oct 2020
In reply to andyr:

the vast majority of international bike centres (cant comment on norway) are built below the tree line, either in the trees or on the ski runs, which in summer are lush green pasture land, not the rugged boulder strewn moorland found at nevis and the coe. they typically have tarmacked roads going to the top (meaning easy vehicular access for construction and maintenance) and the weather on the whole is much much better than the west coast of scotland! not to mention they are already in much more densely populated areas with high tourist numbers. your simply not going to attract that many more riders to the scottish mountains whatever you do, those who want to ride lift accessed DH by on large ride there already. People arent going to start travelling in from around the world because you build a few blue runs, the USP is the world cup track. people already fly in for that. your notion of 'build it and they will come' simply doesn't hold water.

In reply to Webster:

I was there last week.....It's just not catering to the majority.As I said in my post they are constructing a blue from the top which should help.

Wales and other centres offer more variety to the social rider.

 TheGeneralist 03 Oct 2020
In reply to Webster:

> the vast majority of international bike centres (cant comment on norway) are built below the tree line, either in the trees or on the ski runs, which in summer are lush green pasture land, not the rugged boulder strewn moorland found at nevis and the coe. they typically have tarmacked roads going to the top (meaning easy vehicular access for construction and maintenance) and the weather on the whole is much much better than the west coast of scotland! not to mention they are already in much more densely populated areas with high tourist numbers. your simply not going to attract that many more riders to the scottish mountains whatever you do, those who want to ride lift accessed DH by on large ride there already. People arent going to start travelling in from around the world because you build a few blue runs, the USP is the world cup track. people already fly in for that. your notion of 'build it and they will come' simply doesn't hold water.

I disagree on many of your points.

I've not been to many euro bike parks but Saalbach, Tignes, Vald, Méribel&3valleys have shed loads of stuff above the tree line.  In the case of Tignes and Val almost all of it.

Scottish weather is just not that extreme.  You're kidding yourself if you think it is.  The volume of rain delivered in your average alpine thunderstorm totally dwarfs a rainy day in Scotland.

Your comment on people not flying in from around the world is true, but completely irrelevant. It's not the foreigners that they need to attract, it's the 30million Brits who live within 5 hours drive of the place and would rather go there than schlep across to the Alps every time.

( No idea what the actual population within 5 hours is , but please don't bother to look it up to correct me.  The point still stands.  Shit loads of people would (and do) travel to Scotland to ride lift assisted MTB.)

In reply to Webster:

> the vast majority of international bike centres (cant comment on norway) are built below the tree line, either in the trees or on the ski runs,

Tying in with the other thread. The UK tree line is artificially lower due to over grazing, so it can't be used as a bench mark for anything. 

> which in summer are lush green pasture land, not the rugged boulder strewn moorland found at nevis and the coe.

The weather and terrain isn't exactly any different in the alps or Scandinavia. 

> They typically have tarmacked roads going to the top

No they don't. 

> not to mention they are already in much more densely populated areas with high tourist numbers.

Coed y brenin and many other rural venues could hardly be described as densely populated.  

> your simply not going to attract that many more riders to the scottish mountains whatever you do, those who want to ride lift accessed DH by on large ride there already.

You can build easy greens for kids and adults on hard tails etc.. 

> People aren't going to start travelling in from around the world because you build a few blue runs, the USP is the world cup track. people already fly in for that. your notion of 'build it and they will come' simply doesn't hold water.

I know many folk who already do fly around. It's cheaper to take your bike than hire at the other end too. 

If all the Scottish resorts get their act together, add in wolf tracks, dunoon, glentress etc and Scotland would be the go to destination. A week of biking, just an hour or so travelling on to the next destination each evening. 

Post edited at 20:40
In reply to TheGeneralist:

5hrs from Nevis range puts you down into Northern England if you drive with enthusiasm!

If Scottish ski resorts pretend to survive on 2 months of slush and turf skiing per year, with mainly Glasgow and Edinburgh as their catchment, I'm sure mtb venues will run for the other months and do much better. 

Certainly in sweden when the enduro events end in October, places open for skiing in November, near year round employment for some, plus local accommodation, eateries etc. Skiing has started already at Kvitfjell in Norway (last winters snow), but I'm sure lifts are running elsewhere still for mtb lower down. 

 Webster 03 Oct 2020
In reply to TheGeneralist:

> I disagree on many of your points.

well then i disagree on all of yours!

> I've not been to many euro bike parks but Saalbach, Tignes, Vald, Méribel&3valleys have shed loads of stuff above the tree line.  In the case of Tignes and Val almost all of it.

you happen to have chosen the few which are almost exclusively above the trees, the vast majority are below. naturally its the lower, less snow sure resorts which have had to put the most effort into diversifying for summer acitivities.

> Scottish weather is just not that extreme.  You're kidding yourself if you think it is.  The volume of rain delivered in your average alpine thunderstorm totally dwarfs a rainy day in Scotland.

i live in the alps now, and previously lived in western scotland. i can tell you categorically that the weather in scotland is much much worse! there is a reason why everybody goes on holliday to europe and not scotland (and its not just the midges!).

> Your comment on people not flying in from around the world is true, but completely irrelevant. It's not the foreigners that they need to attract, it's the 30million Brits who live within 5 hours drive of the place and would rather go there than schlep across to the Alps every time.

do you seriously think that the people who spend their summer holliday on a bike trip to the alps are going to instead spend a week or two in scotland if they built a few more blues? really not going to happen.

> Shit loads of people would (and do) travel to Scotland to ride lift assisted MTB.)

exactly. those who want to travel to scotland to go mtbing, by in large, already do. sure you will get a few more, but the centres are not going to double their income if they double their investment.

dont get me wrong, i would love to see a load more trails built at nevis and the coe to suit all abilities, but where is the money and resorces going to come from? the trails are improving and increasing year on year, but the nature of the industry in that part of the world dictates that it is a slow and steady proccess.

1
 TheGeneralist 03 Oct 2020
In reply to Webster:

You wrote the following:

> they simply havent got the terrain and weather conditions to build a plethora of smooth flowy blues like you find in bike parks on the continent. its just too harsh a landscape and environment. sure they could hellicopter up a load of nice topsoil/fine gravel to build trails with, but after 1 winter it would all be eroded

Exactly what is it about the Scottish weather that is so hardcore that it makes it harder for trails to survive?

I could be missing something, but the only weather element Scotland gets more ferociously than the Alps is wind, and I really don't see that eroding trails.

I think you're missing the point.Other areas are catching on to the potential of offering more Mtb variety.

I had to convince my mate to travel 6hrs to Nevis rather than Wales,he still preferred his option.

Nevis hasn't tapped into It's full potential.

 andyr 03 Oct 2020
In reply to Webster:

Much of what you write is incorrect. The terrain depends on where the resort is located and which lifts they choose to run. Ride PDS and you're predominately in the woods. Barely a big bush at Orcieres. Tarmac roads are rare. 4X4 dirt road access to top stations are the norm; just like those at Nevis and Cairngorm.

The terrain is no more difficult than that already commonly crossed in numerous countries. The methods and track building techniques are well established. King Stone Road at La Grave isn't particularly technical and it crosses much more complex terrain.

The weather in Scotland is miserable and winter in the Gorms can be Arctic; but it hasn't the savagery of the Alps. I have reasonable experience of both, especially in the winter. Whatever; a Nevis or Cairngorm bike park would be open in the summer months and there are plenty of sunny days during those months.

If you have a reasonable number of worthwhile tracks, people will travel. Bike Park Wales is a good example.  Between 2-400 people on a good day; and they travel up to 5 hours because the product is worth the travel time. For a Scottish park, that's the equivalent of any rider living as far south as Carlisle and Newcastle.

There are plenty of riders visiting and enjoying Scotland; but few would consider visiting the DH because of their limitations. There are many riders visiting and enjoying the Alps; and many consider a day in a bike park because they are catered for. 

Post edited at 22:53
 Al Todd 04 Oct 2020
In reply to summo:

Norway is undoubtedly ahead of Scotland in terms of snow reliability and the vast amount of snow suitable terrain available. Norway also has hundreds of both small and large ski resorts and yes their hut system is incredibly widespread and well managed. However arguably you cannot compare the two since Norway is significantly further North, the mountains are higher and they come under the influence of colder continental air masses far more than Scotland where the weather is dominated by the influence of maritime weather.

That also misses the point which is for many folk Scotland is relatively speaking on the doorstep and therefore unlike Norway can be enjoyed as a weekend destination. Better still for those of us living up here with flexible working where grabbing weekdays is key to making the most of rapidly changing conditions. 

This winter with so many unknowns relating to travel, quarantine etc Scotland may be the only destination available. If so pack the skis, pack the walking boots, pack the waterproofs and plan for the possibility of non existent snow alternatives. However don’t write it off since standout mountain days in Scotland are there to be had every winter! 

 Doug 04 Oct 2020
In reply to andyr:

> The weather in Scotland is miserable and winter in the Gorms can be Arctic; but it hasn't the savagery of the Alps.

I live in the Alps & used to live in Scotland, most recently in Strathspey, and in Argyll before that. I'm not convinced that the weather here is more 'savage' than in Scotland but that's maybe because of not going out when the, usually reliable, forecast is bad here compared to going out anyway back in Scotland at a time when forecasts were not so good. A big difference is that in the Alps much of the rain falls over a short time in summer storms - has the recent storm in the Alpes Maritime made the UK news ? - compared to often long periods of dreichness in Scotland, particularly in the west.

Another major factor which I don't think anyone has mentioned yet is that the soils in the Alps are in general more fertile than at an equivalent altitude in Scotland which means that vegetation grows more quickly making restoration of eroded areas easier. And as mentioned the tree line is much higher so there is much more scope for lift served forest skiing than in Scotland.

In reply to Al Todd:

I agree, my point was more that each place is perhaps best for different things and snow sports in Scotland isn't one of them. That doesn't mean you can't have spells of awesome snow that hasn't all blow off the plateaus or amazing ice, but these aren't the norm every week of winter and Scotland's venues should work with what they have and the future climate. 

Yes with 70m folk in the UK the potential catchment for Scotland is huge, where folk can plan a week there, rather than aiming for those in the central belt who'll just pop north for the day if snow conditions are good and it's not too windy to run the lifts. 

 DaveHK 04 Oct 2020
In reply to summo:

> Yes with 70m folk in the UK the potential catchment for Scotland is huge, where folk can plan a week there, rather than aiming for those in the central belt who'll just pop north for the day if snow conditions are good and it's not too windy to run the lifts. 

​​​​​​The big numbers and therefore the money are in the people who want to book a week and just go skiing. Being able to do that in Scotland is a thing of the past so the resorts are left to fight for the scraps. 

​​​​​​All the discussion about whether the terrain etc is suitable for uplift served MTB is really missing the point which is that when winter takings barely keep the wolf from the door there will be no cash to invest in summer infrastructure. Unless climate changes or there's an unexpected influx of cash the slow death of Scottish ski resorts seems inevitable.

In reply to Doug:

I think we all have slightly different views on what direction they could go based on what we've seen elsewhere, but also agree that many venues have not got it right over the last 10 to 20 years. The main thing is they do something soon, many more folk are enjoying so called stay-actions, walking and cycling this year, they don't want to miss the boat. It's a good chance to modernise and invest for future times. 

Post edited at 08:34
 Al Todd 04 Oct 2020
In reply to TheGeneralist:

Reading your comments, I think you’ve mixed up SNH with HIE. The former may well deserve criticism on a number of fronts and in relation to skiing were instrumental in the controversial restrictions placed on the funicular which prevented visitors from leaving the building during summer months. However regarding Cairngorm, its HIE who have by far the most to answer for.

Anyone who knows the entire sorry tale will be appalled by the tens of £millions spent on building and running the Funicular which was justified on the most dubious of business plans widely disbelieved and criticised at the time. The story got worse since it’s now well known that the construction contract was awarded by HIE to a business that subsequently ended up being run by the previous head of HIE.

Fast forward to more recent times, Cairngorm operators have twice now gone bust on a funicular driven business model costing taxpayers more millions. However despite that HIE plough on with their latest plan involving spending millions more to repair the funicular rather than seriously entertain other alternative proposals. It also very much appears HIE do not want further public scrutiny on why the funicular failed after such an incredibly short lifespan or why the last management contract was awarded to an organisation with such a shaky financial footing that it was obvious there was a high risk of failure. 

On its day Cairngorm can still offer great skiing but it’s a shadow of its former self with the blame for that not just warmer winters but a lack of accountability of the actions of HIE who time and again have proven themselves unfit to be the owners of a ski resort. 

 DaveHK 04 Oct 2020
In reply to Al Todd:. 

> On its day Cairngorm can still offer great skiing. 

If you're talking lift served I'm afraid I disagree with you Al. Even before the funicular failure the uplift just couldn't cope and waiting 45 mins in a queue was not uncommon in my experience.

Yes, there can be good conditions but as a consumer experience Cairngorm is dire and they'll never get my money again.

 Doug 04 Oct 2020
In reply to DaveHK:

I've had some very good half days on Cairngorm, but always mid-week with short queues - I used to be able to see much of Coire Cas from my office window & be able to take a half days leave at very short notice when conditions were good (pre funicular).

Post edited at 09:11
In reply to DaveHK:

Much of the infrastructure is already there, it just needs repurposing. Buildings, car parks, toilets, tows etc..  I've biked using Tbars as tows for mtb(admittedly it's not for novices), but there are plenty chair lifts. They can rip out and sell all the poma tows and fencing. 

The only thing that's missing is the management that will bring about effective change. Otherwise as you say it's a slow death. 

1
 DaveHK 04 Oct 2020
In reply to Doug:

> I've had some very good half days on Cairngorm, but always mid-week with short queues - I used to be able to see much of Coire Cas from my office window & be able to take a half days leave at very short notice when conditions were good (pre funicular).

I think you've rather proved my point with that Doug it being midweek, local and some time in the past!  

 andyinglis 04 Oct 2020
In reply to Webster:

I find it very hard to believe the fly paper is 50degrees on average! 

 Le Sapeur 04 Oct 2020
In reply to galpinos:

> What a pessimistic post! Scottish skiing is risky for " a weeks family holiday" but for a weekend dash, I find it hard to beat. I think it's the combination of it being Scotland, the fact conditions aren't always great means when they are they're extra special, there's a magic of actually skiing on Ben Nevis, swooping down No.4, that I don't feel in a ski resort*, the west coast, when you a skiing a line with snowy mountains all around and the sea and the islands in clear view it's an experience that can't be matched in the Alps**.

You have missed my point. For the op to ski at say, Nevis Range, it is a 4 1/2 hour drive or 9 hour return trip (based on his profile location). Quite a long 'dash' by anyone's standards. To say it is risky for a week's family holiday is the understatement of the year. Given the bulk of the UK's population lives almost as close to the Alps as North West Scotland it would make far more sense for them to take their holiday somewhere with reliable snow and weather. A week in the rain in Fort William sounds about as much fun as trench warfare.

Most skiers ski on piste, not No4 gully. It may be fun for you to swoop down the Ben but 99% of skiers will be on Aonach Mor sliding down the piste. More often than not they will be grinding across rocks and scraping the heather before occasionally falling in a burn. Followed by a crap cheese toastie in the cafe before blundering out for a final run in the cloud.

I've had more crap days skiing in Scotland than good ones. I've had very few bad skiing days in Norway and fewer in the Alps. Fair enough if you are expert skier but most are not.

The good days in Scotland have been memorable. Both of them.

1
 Martin W 04 Oct 2020

Reference the discussion about lift-served MTBing: I've read/heard that some resorts on the continent are no longer allowing bikes on lifts, apparently driven by the increasing popularity of eMTBs - so even feeble folks like me can ride up the hill - leaving the lifts for walkers.

 Dogwatch 04 Oct 2020
In reply to Martin W:

> Reference the discussion about lift-served MTBing: I've read/heard that some resorts on the continent are no longer allowing bikes on lifts, apparently driven by the increasing popularity of eMTBs - so even feeble folks like me can ride up the hill - leaving the lifts for walkers.

Really? Why would they turn away cyclists' money?

 Webster 04 Oct 2020
In reply to andyinglis:

> I find it very hard to believe the fly paper is 50degrees on average! 

sorry i should clarify... i mean on average (as in year to year) the maximum pitch is 45-50deg, not the average gradient of the run as a whole. it has a sigmoidal profile, so naturally the top and bottom are much less steep (indeed some years you have to ski back uphill slightly on exit!). 

we are splitting hairs here. we have three of us all confirming a similar ball park figure (40, 43 and 45deg), the point being it vairies. but it is undeniably very steep, and steeper than many 'steep gully' lines

1
 Webster 04 Oct 2020
In reply to Dogwatch:

> Really? Why would they turn away cyclists' money?

ask the companie du mt blanc that question... in chamonix MTBs are banned on most uplift and trails in peak tourist season because they would much rather cater to walkers and sightseers. its an incredibly short sighted approach, but thats chamonix for you. they dont give a shit about locals and regulars, they care more about the 1 off visitors spending a small fortune on a round trip up the midi with coffee and cake.

 Webster 04 Oct 2020
In reply to Le Sapeur:

> I've had more crap days skiing in Scotland than good ones. I've had very few bad skiing days in Norway and fewer in the Alps. Fair enough if you are expert skier but most are no

i could probably say the same about chamonix...

ok you could argue i got lucky for the 5 years i lived in glasgow, and conversely got unlucky last winter over here, with below average snowfall followed by covid... but i recon i had a better good to crap day ratio in 3 of the 5 years in scotland (certainly 2) than i have had in the alps this past winter. and im talking purely in bounds and side country days in scotland, as i only got a touring set up in my final season there. and i have done just as much damage to my bases in 2 alpine winters than any 2 scotish ones... 

2
 andyr 04 Oct 2020
In reply to Martin W:

> Reference the discussion about lift-served MTBing: I've read/heard that some resorts on the continent are no longer allowing bikes on lifts, apparently driven by the increasing popularity of eMTBs - so even feeble folks like me can ride up the hill - leaving the lifts for walkers.

A very few are not carrying eMTB's at busy times for two reasons.

Some of the cradles for front wheels aren't wide enough for 2.8" wheels.

The extra weight makes it a struggle to load them on the single rim hang hooks. 

Other than that...they love your money.

 Doug 04 Oct 2020
In reply to Webster:

> ok you could argue i got lucky for the 5 years i lived in glasgow, and conversely got unlucky last winter over here, with below average snowfall followed by covid... but i recon i had a better good to crap day ratio in 3 of the 5 years in scotland (certainly 2) than i have had in the alps this past winter

Having skied in Scotland while living there for >20 years, plus regular visits to the Alps & living there for a while I find that difficult to believe even if Chamonix does seem to have some of the worst weather in the Alps (its why I live further south)

1
In reply to Doug:

> Having skied in Scotland while living there for >20 years, plus regular visits to the Alps & living there for a while I find that difficult to believe even if Chamonix does seem to have some of the worst weather in the Alps (its why I live further south)

It's all relative. Having done many dashes north too. A lucky day means you can see more than 30m, aren't fighting a 30mph cross wind and didn't come home with any new gouges out of your ski bases.

 walts4 04 Oct 2020
In reply to Webster:

> i could probably say the same about chamonix...

Really not sure how to respond to this. I’ll probably not bother...

1
 wildebeeste 06 Oct 2020
In reply to DaveHK:

Agreed. And I even broke my collar bone on it! But that was poor decision making and skiing the end of day ice which I couldn’t handle, not steepness. In conditions it’s straightforward. 

In reply to tomsan91:

Agree. BPW would be awesome if it had a quarter of the lifts at most Scottish resorts. Build some decent, all weather trails with plenty of flow lines and they'd have income for 7+ months of the year.

 Webster 06 Oct 2020
In reply to blackmountainbiker:

to flip your point on its head. i have always thought that some of the bike centres down south should put in a chair lift or two. that would do much more for their income than building a few blues at nevis or coe would do for their income. as it stands, most bike centres only make money from parking and cafes, and many people will find ways to get around paying for parking and bring their own food, thus spending little or no money. sure people who want a pedal will still pedal up, but many people (like myself) will be much more willing to pay for uplift if its a ski lift rather than a van. plus it would bring in income from tourists and sightseers who would also only be spending money on parking and cafe otherwise. Cwmcarn would be a great location for starters.

 andyr 07 Oct 2020
In reply to Webster:

I'd much rather be transported by a lift; but places like BPW would probably run into capacity problems, if they implemented the usual  of alternating between the bikes and then the riders on the chairs.

Of course that's adapting existing lift chairs. Building a lift specifically to carry bikes and riders should do a much better job and up capacity.

The other problem being it doesn't matter that much if one of the vans breaks down. Lose the lift for some reason and that's a real pain. None of this is insurmountable and I'd support such schemes.

In reply to andyr:

You can run bikes and two people per chair quite easily. 

https://www.vallasenbikepark.se/2074-2/

 andyr 08 Oct 2020
In reply to summo:

That's a really pragmatic solution; but it looks like quite a sedate lift. I think with the faster chairs that tend to chatter much more over the intermediate stanchions you'd spend most of the journey hanging on to the bike 'just in case it got bounced off the hook'. Not having your front wheel aligned when you arrive would be interesting. I assume the bike just stops dead and falls off the hook on the chair. Then it's a race to collect it before being clouted by the next incoming bike/chair/rider combo.

A few places have you load your bike and then run around and get on the same chair...reversing this at the top. UK H&S would have a fit! The lift attendants get very good at stopping the lift as yet another person fails to load in time... or takes too long and doesn't had time to scamper round to get on the seat...or just gets totally confused and stands there watching their bike being carried away.

 Webster 08 Oct 2020
In reply to andyr:

in the places i have been at least, you dont alternate bikes then riders every other chair. you put your bikes on the chair in front and the next people put their bike on yours, so every chair can still be filled if demand requires it (ok, well a maximum of 2 people and 2 bikes per chair, but that is fine). BPW is so big that it would probably need more than 1 lift anyway, plus as its a pay to access site (and a bloody expensive one at that, but thats another argument for another day...), they dont need the revenue a lift would bring, so i see zero incentive for them to put one there, as nice as it would be with one!

as for the capacity point. while you may need to stand in a queue for 5-10 mins if its really busy, at least it is constantly moving. you will still get on the lift quicker than if you just miss a bus and have to wait 20 mins or more for the next one (i dont know how regular they are at BPW as i have never been, but you get my point)

In reply to andyr:

Yeah. Two types of chair lift. Those that remain permanently fastened to the cable and run slower. Versus those which unhook at the top and bottom trickling around the turn for loading. They are faster up the hill, but speeds aren't fixed and can be set for summer mtb traffic at a slower rate. 

Edit. Like ski lifts location is key, steep side of the hill for maximum height gain for least amount of infra structure. 

Post edited at 19:33
In reply to Webster:

Compared to buses and trailers, chair  unload times are much better too. You don't get peaks of riders all arriving at the top, just a steady flow. Less congestion and risk of catching folk up. 

Post edited at 19:35
In reply to andyr:

https://www.facebook.com/Isabergstoppen/videos/918329085255190/

Faster lift.. but still side loading and stable. Not a cheap investment though. 

 French Erick 08 Oct 2020
In reply to nickinscottishmountains:

Unrealistic fantasy more than forlorn hope. There’s so much work goes into making pistes skiing possible for longer with less snow in the Alps and they are struggling. None of that, quite literally, groundwork happens in Scotland! It’s not just about reliable, fast lifts, or decent food being served or even about convenient paying methods. It’s about a decent length and width of reliable pleasant skiing area. This simply doesn’t exist except for the few lucky people who can take days off on weekdays when conditions are good. Scottish piste skiing isn’t providing much for it’s exorbitant price. It’s probably best left to die the death. 

2
 andyr 08 Oct 2020
In reply to summo:

> Faster lift.. but still side loading and stable. Not a cheap investment though. 

Yes, the last few years have seen more thought and design put into the bike carriers. Illustrates just how far we've come from a simple hook bolted to the chairs support bracket. You could tell who regularly rode lifts. Scratched rims from the hook and chipped frame paint from bouncing off the chair edge.

 andyr 08 Oct 2020
In reply to summo:

> Compared to buses and trailers, chair  unload times are much better too. You don't get peaks of riders all arriving at the top, just a steady flow. Less congestion and risk of catching folk up. 

The times I been to BPW they've been fairly organised. Three loading, three unloading and the other six in transit going up or down. They do have enough tracks for that number to disperse. Across Europe you tend to have less trails from each lift so the steady flow suits better.


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