Glencoe Mountain Resort
Today was a tricky one, Glencoe Mountain Resort had been shrouded in mist for the last few days. I had failed to get to the mountain due to the previous week’s unprecedented snowfall in Glasgow, dubbed “The Beast from the East”. When I arrived at the mountain, it was still hidden.
It was Wednesday and pretty quiet. But enough cars in the car park to suggest I wasn’t the only one mad enough to try going up the hill in such bad visibility.
That snow wasn’t about to shred itself.
Conditions on the hill
Although the highlands had been largely spared from the freak snow storm, the pistes themselves had received a healthy dose of the white stuff in the following weather systems.
Visibility was pretty bad and I wasn’t feeling my best anyhow. The white-out that enveloped me just elevated the nausea and anxiety levels as I rode downhill.
The snow underfoot however was total hero snow. Deep and wind packed. Temperatures were just below zero and there was barely any wind.
My first mistake
I got off the Cliffhanger Chairlift and strapped in. There was no-one else around and it was deathly silent. I know the hill pretty well so I wasn’t particularly concerned, but as I made my way along the track of Mugs Alley, I continued a bit longer than I should have. Sometimes its hard to gauge your speed in a white out. I realised I was not on Mugs Alley anymore, but still on a pisted track.
I stopped to listen for the familiar drone or clink of the lifts, but there was nothing. I eventually found a fence which I assumed would lead me to the Plateau Cafe. However as it went on and on, eventually ending in the Access Lift, I realised I’d gone down Rankin’s Return. My navigation was way off.
Red Access Run
As it was a bit clearer further down the mountain, I decided to take the Red run down to the car-park. Regardless of the white-out, the snow was amazing, so the run down was pretty good, even with a few mogul bumps on the way.
Glencoe had also supplemented some of the snow at the bottom with their new SnowFactory manufactured snow. It definitely helped patch the end of the run up.
I stayed at the bottom for a short while. As I mentioned earlier, I wasn’t feeling myself and thought I’d sit it out for a while until things cleared a bit.
I got bored though and it wan’t long before I was heading back up.
A pleasant surprise
As I arrived at the Cliffhanger Chair once again. The clouds parted and revealed the mountain. It was whiter than I have ever seen it I think, and no, not due to a white-out.
I cranked out a few fast runs of Mugs Alley before heading over to the Wall T-bar which was now running. I by-passed the summit lift as it still looked pretty misty up there. So a few more on Mugs Alley, then I found a window clear enough to dive down underneath the Cliffy Chairlift. A couple of wee scrapes, but the wind pack snow here was amazing. Grippy, soft and silent. Just how we like it on a steeper slope.
Main Basin is Loaded!
I stopped for lunch, and as inevitably happens, the summit appeared out of the clouds. So, I finished my coffee and made for the top.
With a slight mist to deal with at the start, the Main Basin was absolutely choking with soft packed snow. Straight down the middle and off in to Ski Tow Gulley then out behind the rescue hut was the run of the day.
All good things must come to an end though. The cloud returned eventually around 3:00pm and at one point I found myself getting stuck in a drift at the side of Main Basin. This was a cue to head down. I plan to be up for. Few days, so there was no pressure.
This time, I deliberately rode down to the access chair and once again opted to take the red run down and not the Chair.
Where Eagles Dare
It was a tricky day snowboarding, but definitely better than a day in the office.
To top off the day though, just as I was snapping the inevitable patches of blue sky that were appearing, a large bird came looming in to view.
At first I thought it was a heron, but as it’s loping flight path took it higher into the sky, it became obvious this was a white tailed eagle. It flew almost overhead before disappearing behind the trees and toilet block.
Of course I only had my little point and shoot camera to hand, but I still managed to bag the memory. I wonder if it is staying locally?