Let’ Piste

Mike Wilson checks out a new Scottish ski run and gives piste details below.

Skiing represents one ofthe few compensations of the winter months. but while many enthusiasts might find skiing against a howling gale on top ofa mountain infinitely more preferable to being baked lobster red on the beaches of Cyprus. probany few would go so far as to pledge their undying affection for the Scottish ski resorts ofCairngorm. Glenshee. (ilencoe and the Lecht. Not only are they quite small. but they lack both the charm and the civilised facilities which are expected as standard on the continent. In addition. and probably more importantly. the Scottish weather is reliably unpredictable. with no guarantee of blue skies and quality snow.

I Iowever. with the establishment of a ski development at Aonach Mor. to be known officially as the Nevis Range. a matter of four and a half miles from Fort William. one or two of the more persistent complaints levelled against the Scottish scene should be eliminated.

the overall response was similarly favourable.

Aonach Mor is the eighth highest mountain in Scotland. and the area. known locally as The SnoWgoose. has been skied since the early 1930s. However. it was not until a feasibility study was commissioned by Lochaber District Council in 1974 that serious thoughts for its development were formulated. In the fifteen years since. wishful thinking must have floundered many times on the back of successive inquiries and extensive negotiations with bodies such as the Nature Conservancy Council.

‘The development team and Lochaber District Council have always been convinced of the

pursuits shop. Nevisport.

When planning permission was finally granted. towards the end of last year. the burst of activity which followed was little short of remarkable. The £8.3m investment includes a 2.3km gondola cable car system to link the below-snowline car park with the base of the runs. On the mountain itself. there is one 900m Chairlift and six tows. The restaurant at the gondola station promises to be significantly more sophisticated than the rough equivalents elsewhere.

‘During construction. both the development company and Highland Regional Council were especially keen to ensure as little environmental damage as possible

be the lateness of the season which the area hopes to provide.

As it is. Scotland’s ski resorts provide snow when those on the continent have become meadowland lush with edelweiss. Aonach Mor hopes to do better still. While skiing at Christmas and New Year will all depend on the cloud formations, it has been possible. over the last six years. to continue skiing right up to Midsummer‘s day.

‘Admittedly. the areas ofsnow that are left at that time are not always easy to get to. Access to these points would have to be restricted if there was likely to be any damage to the mountain. Nonetheless. it will be possible to ski well into May,‘ said Sutherland.

Ofcourse. there is no accounting for the vagaries of the weather and in projecting the number of skiers who might visit the area. the financial estimates have erred on the side of caution. For 1990. Nevis Range are expecting no more than 74.000 ‘skier days’. only 10 per cent of the total Scottish market.

When speculation concerning global warming goes so far as to suggest that Dundee could acquire a Mediterranean climate. then perhaps caution should also suggest keeping a few tons ofsand in readiness for tourists searching for a sunshine paradise with Club 18—30. However. should such fanciful predictions ever come to pass. Nevis Range will have probably celebrated a centenary or two.

Inclement weather is hardly likely to disappear from the perverse joys ofskiing in Scotland in the very near

It wouldn‘t be unreasonable to suggest that from the moment it is officially opened up to the public. from 18 December. it will put the other Scottish ski resorts to shame. Ian McMillan. editor ofSkiing UK has already described it as ‘spectacular‘. and when the press were given a preview a month ago.

project. The District Council have been pushing for it for years. and most of the development team have been extensively involved since the beginning ofthe decade.‘ says Ian Sutherland. Director ofthe Nevis Range company and Managing Director ofone ofthe bigger private sector investors. the outdoor

and therefore almost all the materials and the workers were airlifted around the site by helicopter.‘ continued Sutherland. Whilst these attractions might in themselves be sufficient to entice visitors to travel the 111 miles from Glasgow or 139 from Edinburgh. perhaps the biggest selling point will


future. While ski fashions might change as frequently as Imelda Marcos bought new shoes. there is no likelihood that the thermals. waterproofs. scarves and gloves need feel threatened by the ubiquitous bermuda shorts and

The Areas

I Aonach Mor Near Fort William. 0397 5825. ()pening this year. from December 18. with impressive access and catering facilites (which should force the others to improve theirs). This is an area which will provide intermediate to difficult runs. and because they will not be Using too many snow fences. the number will not be so limited as in other places. The gondola up to the snow level is itself £3.50. though this

w ill be included in the price of ski tickets. Should a Season ticket be bought before 1 November. the price is £160 per adult; afterwards £200. An adult 7-day Week ticket is £70 (peak ) or £57 (off-peak ). An adult Day ticket is £l2.5ll(pcak)or£9.50 loll-peak).

I Cairngorm Near Aviemore. ()479 86261.

The most popular resort at

present. commanding over 50“} of the Scottish market. to date. A large number of difficult runs. but with enough ofthe other grades to make it enjoyable. Again. buying an adult Season ticket before November 1 will yield a discount: £153 before. £200after. An adult 7-day Week ticket is £69 (peak). £55.20 (off-peak). Day: £1 1.50 (peak). £9.20 (off-peak). (‘airngorm's chairlift is operated throughout the year - as will Aonach's gondola access - but the tows will be run only when there is sufficient snow.

I Glencoe ()n the A82 to (ilencoe and Fort \Villiam, 08552 303. Quite a limited ski area. open5 days a week. 'I‘hurs—Mon. Nonetheles. there are a lot

of runs. generally ofan intermediate standard. Access to the mountain costs £1.50. Thereafter. on Saturdays. Sundays and Easter. an adult Day ticket costs £7; on Mondays. Thursdays and Fridays. £5.50 per day.

I Glenshee near Braemar. on the A93. 033 9741320. A large development. which boast the famous Tiger ( Very Difficult) and well over a dozen other runs. Adult Season: before November l.£l20; after. £150. Adult 7-day Week: £52 (peak). £45 (off-peak). Adult Day: £10 (peak). £9 (off-peak).

I The Lecht ()n the A939 near Ballater. 09756 51440. Ideal for beginners. Adult Season: before November 1 . £80; after £90. Adult 7-day Week: £34. Adult Day: £7.

Hiring Gear Obviously. a fair number ofhire firms operate in the vicinity of the resorts themselves. and whilst their prices might not be any different from those in Edinburgh or (ilasgow. it is not so easy to guarantee that you will find boots. skis and poles that are your size. When hiring boots. take along a pairof thin. loose-stitch socks of a wool and synthetic mix. (ienerally. most shops do not provide a Clothing Ilire facility. If you are thinkingof buying. you should think of boots before skis and poles. If you are in no desparate hurry to buy. wait until the sales. One such sale which is coming up in the very near future. supported by the Scottish National Ski Council. takes place at (icorge Watson's School.

Colinton Road. Edinburgh on November

25 from 1 lam to 2pm.


I Blues 129 Buchanan Street. 204 0686. As for Edinburgh.

I Nevisport 261 Sauchiehall Street. 332 4814. As for Edinburgh. I Highrange 200 Great Western Road. 332 5533. Boots. skis and poles: £7 per day; skis and poles: £4. Boots: Dolomite. Skis: Fisher. Bindings: Salomon.


I Blues 1 Wemyss Place. 225 8369. Although exact prices have not yet been worked out. for boots. skis and poles. the daily hire price should be about £7. For skis and poles. expect to pay £5. They use Salomon boots.

I Nevisport Waverley Market. 557 0923. Fora day’s hire of boots. skis and poles. £7.50: skis and poles. £4.50. Salomon boots and mainly Dynastar skis. They also hire a jacket and a pair of salopettcs for £7 per day. and there are a number of cross-country skis available for hire.

I Elliotts l4 Bruntsficld Place. 2292402. Boots. skis and poles: £7 per day; skis and poles: £4. Boots: San Giorgio. Skis: Head. Bindings: Tyrolia. They also hire roof racks. On November 5. they have an open day to launch their new shop in Bruntsficld. promising fairly impressive discounts.

80 The List 27 October 9 November 1989