Day 15: 2017/18


Back up to Glencoe just two days after spending a three day stint there. I knew it was still set up hard due to continued freezing temperatures. So I planned to take it easy in the morning leaving just before 7:00am and arriving around 9:00am. Grabbing something to eat allowed the bright sunshine to do its work a bit longer on the snow before I made my way up the hill.

main basin
Riding the main basin

Conditions on the hill

Bright sunshine with just a hint of wind made for a beautiful day. The hard snow had been well pisted, especially Main Basin and Happy Valley.

It was below zero so the snow still won’t be going anywhere. Off the piste line, the snow remains boilerplate hard, so there is some restriction as to where you can explore. As the day went on, the action of skiers and snowboarders loosened up the snow and it steadily improved.

summit ski tow
Summit T-bar

Ski and Board Room Rail Jam

I brought the big cameras with me today. Heaving a fully laden backpack up the hill to capture the action at The Rail Jam in Coire Pollach in the recently finished park.

The event is a casual jam session, no overall winners and prizes are passed out to all-comers. It was open to all ages from kids to adults. It also gave me an excuse to practice capturing action.

The session was due to start around 1:00pm so I set up half an hour before hand, choosing some spots to shoot from, taking the amazing backdrop and direction of the sunlight into account.

mountain backdrop
Buachaille Etive Mòr as a backdrop to the park
skier on rail
Blue skies all day in the Coire Pollach Park

When the jam starts, I’d set myself up close to the rainbow rail, with Buachaille Etive Mòr as a backdrop. As time when by, less and less riders bothered with this rail, so I moved further up the park next to one of the jumps that was still seeing some action.

The bright sunlight illuminated the competition and the surrounding hill, until it drew to a close, the shadow of the upper hill passing over and painting the snow pale blue as it took on the colour of the sky.

Return to the summit

Once the rail jam had wrapped, I took off back up to the top, where the windows whipping up spindrift, creating an atmospheric backlit haze along the summit ridge-line.

summit ridge
The summit

The Main Basin had been well pisted and was in great condition despite the freezing temperatures. So, four or five more descents of the summit, including a visit to Mugs Alley and it was time to get off the hill.

Access Chair
The shadow of the mountain beyond the access chairlift

Evening at Coe

I had considered returning home earlier to watch the Scotland v England 6 Nations Rugby match. But photographing the rail jam took up most of my time, and tomorrow was looking good, so I had decided to stay for the night and not make the drive south.

I returned to the car and changed, then pulled out the laptop and started editing images from the day.

As it got nearer to dinner time, I visited the Ossian Cafe only to find it full with a busy hubbub filling the air. What was going on? It was the Rugby on the big screen. There was only 10 minutes to go and Scotland were leading!

It was a tense end to the game and I was glad to get to see even a small part of Scotland’s first win over England in 10 years. Apparently it was a good game too.

Rugby in Cafe Ossian
6 Nations rugby in Cafe Ossian

Once the game crowd started to disperse, I ordered dinner. Macaroni cheese, with chips of course, washed down with a rather light and fruity flavoured cider that didn’t seem alcoholic at all. I was also trying to upload the images from the day for Glencoe to share, but with the slow internet connection this was taking a while. Now that I get 4G in the area, I just tethered to my phone and eventually the images were posted before we were kicked out at the end of the day.

I tucked myself into my sleeping bag in the back of the car, watching a movie on the iPad and drifting off within 30-40 minutes.