ome people love the summer. You
can see why. The days are long. the
bank holidays are plentiful and everyone looks twice as attractive. You might even get a spot of sunshine. But just because you like summer doesn‘t mean you have to dread the onset of winter. Winter isn’t bad. In fact. winter can be a perversely thrilling time of year. when the chilling air and abrasive wind make even an unexceptional flat seem like paradise.
Brave it into the outside world and you can be in for even more of a pleasant surprise. Going from civilisation (warmth. electricity. fridge full of beer) to the mountains (snow. poor visibility. bloody great precipices) isn‘t the most obvious of activities. but when you get there things seem a little different. Snow and ice transform the landscape. smoothing its contours. giving the most ordinary of vistas an extraordinary. surreal coating. Seeing the towering mass of Nevis or the jagged ridges of Glencoe swathed in snow is a glorious sight.
But the best thing about snow is that it‘s slidey. Say what you like about driving. running or pounding the buttons on a PlayStation. if you want exhilaration. you want to be going down a hill on skis or snowboard or sled or on your own arse feeling that delightful thrill of being at once in and out of control.
Resorts often include activities such as dog sledding. gorge walking. climbing. off-roading. snow-tubing and hang-gliding. Whatever activity you're doing. someone's always likely to be doing something even more outlandish. something I was reminded of when coming down a piste last winter. I pulled a wobbly jump and basked in the applause of a small group of onlookers. Needless to say. they weren’t looking at me . . . they were looking at the snowboarder strapped to the skier paragliding onto the slope behind me. Watch the skies .
You want that
deli htiul thril oi being at oncein and out oi control.
ever British Snowboarding Championships (see Hot Events). 38 runs (10 green. 13 blue. 13 red. 2 black). Off-piste skiing. Ski and snowboard schools and hire. Telemarking. Sledging.
Prices: One-day lift pass: adult $21. student £17.50. junior £12.50. Ski hire: adult $16. junior £8. Snowboard hire: E17. Telemark hire (from Braemar Mountain Sports. Braemar. 01339 741 242): from 5212. Instruction: class (2hr) 121 2. private (1 hr) £22. Special two-day beginners' rate: adult E75. junior $50 (includes pass. hire and two hours' instruction a day).
By road: situated on the A93 near Braemar.
By rail: nearest station is Perth. with car hire available from there.
Lecht 2090 Ski and Multi Activity Centre Strathdon, Aberdeenshire. 01975 651440. Snow report: 09001 654657. www.lecht.co.uk. The Lecht is much smaller than the other resorts and is the best place to take those first tentative steps on a slippery slope. Famous for its snowboard fun park and wide range of snow activities such as deval karting and snowtubing, it's also a great place to go when there's not a lot of snow as it has the largest snowmaking facilities in Scotland. 21 Runs (7 green. 7 blue, 6 red. 1 black). Snowboard fun park. Snowtubing. Snow karts. Six snow- making cannons covering most runs. Off—piste skiing. Ski and snowboard schools and hire. Artificial ski slope.
Feel the need for speed?
exhilarating activities on piste.
For extra speed 90 deval karting
SNOW TUBING AND DEVAL KARTING
There are few thrills as stimulating as bombing down a snowy slope at record speeds. Skiing's a timeless classic but takes practice. tobogganing offers cheap thrills but is old as the hills and snowboarding has its place but it's just a bit too ‘street' for some. So how about leaping on a massrve inflatable rubber tube and sending yourself hurtling down a hillside at speeds of up to 60mph? Snow tubing is rapidly becoming one of the hippest and most
Pure adrenaline-injected action. it has given the Americans such a taste that they are setting up leagues. competitions and races. 80 if you think it's just glorified sledding. think again. Body position is essential and there's the small fact of having no brakes or steering mechanism (save for shifting your body weight in an attempt to change direction). Each ride is different and unpredictable — this is the latest fix for the adrenaline junkie hiding in us all.
If all that sounds a bit tame for you. how about upping the stakes just a notch? How about some downhill go-karting. or as it is affectionately known. deval karting? Strap yourself in, tighten your helmet straps and away you go. There are brakes (and bloody good ones at that) this time around. meaning things are more controlled than tubing. But then again the speeds are proportionately faster. Better still. this can be carried out even when there's no snow on the ground. But factor in the snow and you have added speed. and of course when you do crash and burn, it‘s a far more enjoyable experience.
Now what else can we throw ourselves downhill on? (Henry Northmore)
I Both can be done at Lecht. See listings below for details.
Half pipe cutter.
Prices: One-day lift pass: adult $17. student E15. junior 2875—81050.
Ski hire: adult $14, junior E8. Snowboard hire: adult £17.50. junior $860—$214. Tubing hire: from C7 (1hr). Deval snow kart £3 a ride. instruction: class (2hr) £15. private (1 hr) 825. Special one-day beginners' rate: adult
$40. junior 23150—5336 (includes pass.
hire and tuition).
By road: situated on the A939 near Tomitoul.
By rail: nearest stations are Carrbridge and Huntley. Car hire at lnverness and Aberdeen.
Nevis Range Ski Centre Fort William, lnverness-shire. 01397 705825. Snow report: 09001 654660. www.nevis-range.co.uk. For free text messaging service to get news of snow direct from the slopes, subscribe at www.nevis- range.co.uk or text ‘SNOW’ to 07960 133195. Just next to Ben Nevis. this is the highest and newest ski resort in Scotland and the best resort for advanced skiers. The ‘Braveheart Chair' offers access to Alpine-quality >
31 Oct—1.: NO). 2002 THE LIST 19