Day 18: 2017/18

Glencoe Mountain Resort

Friday started at Glencoe Mountain Resort with sunlight illuminating the Buachaille. It looked promising, but this is Scotland. The weather is a law unto itself.

I was expecting friends to arrive so grabbed some breakfast and said hello to them before making my way up the hill.

low visibility at the summit
The top of the Main Basin T-bar

Conditions on the hill

I made my way directly to the summit via the wall T-bar and the Main Basin T-bar to scout out conditions. The snow is perfect all over the mountain. Never have I seen such consistent coverage across the mountain. The visibility on the other hand was not so perfect. It was an improvement on the day before though. I could actually make out the summit from the plateau. Once I got to the summit, it was down to a few feet.

Happy Valley was my first run, and after feeling my way along the groomer track the main piste was perfectly groomed and consistent. Carving is the way to go here, looking to do perfect arcs in the snow. The visibility at the top meant I got a bit disorientated, but once in clear air I got my turns dialled.

I cut across to Mugs Alley and down to the Cliffy Chair. The snow, even on the heavy traffic areas is holding up really well. Once up the Cliffy, I took a run underneath it, and although my turns weren’t as fluid as yesterday, there was some fresh under the chair that was worth poaching.

Top of the Wall T-bar
Top of the Wall T-bar

Blind leading the blind

On arriving at the top of the chairlift, I met Johnny and friends so I took them up into the mist and tried to explain the lay of the land from the top of the mountain.

Taking them down Happy Valley I immediately slid out onto my arse. I really couldn’t see a thing. But we went right down to the Wall, where things were clearer.

Johnny and myself took the lifts to the top again where we made the most of the fresh snow in Main Basin. Lots of fresh and not too tracked out yet.

The cloud was starting to move, and some clear patches meant we could try Etive Glades. I was hoping for a lot of fresh in there from the earlier Easterly winds, unfortunately it was pretty tracked out. Don’t get me wrong. It was brilliant snow, but I’ve been pretty spoiled this season with top quality snow at Glencoe.

Back to the top, we took riders right down the Rannoch Button tow. Excellent wind packed powder with only the odd little rock letting itself known. I had to stop suddenly at a little windlip that nearly caught us out. It wasn’t a big drop, but when you are riding down the uplift, you don’t want to fall in front of an audience.

Happy Valley
Leigh on Happy Valley

An improving Afternoon

We all finished lunch and were greeted with an improving situation. On reaching the summit, we could see the top. There were even patches of blue sky, with sunlight making it through occasionally.

Yours truly (with dirty jacket) watching the impending cloud move in. (Photo by Johnny)

More laps of the summit and the rock garden were bagged before Johnny and friends had to head back to Edinburgh.

I took them down Rankin’s Return, and through a large bank of cloud before we made it onto the Weasel track returning to the car park.

After saying our goodbyes, I took the access chair back up the mountain just before 3:00pm. Enough time for a few more summit laps including more of the wind packed powder.

Once that was done I decided to take the Access lift back down this time, and why not?

Outlook for Friday

Tomorrow (Friday), looks like it could be gusty with snow and sunny spells. So I’ll spend another night at Coe after popping into Fort William for wifi and supplies.

access lift at glencoe
Riding back up the access lift
The access chair from the car park