Day 2: 2019

Glencoe Mountain Resort

Chances are if you are reading this blog post, you are all too aware of just how desperate this winter season has been. With no winter to speak of we are relying on a spring miracle to bring us joy (and some cashflow for the poor ski centres).

Many had already called time on the ski/snowboard season. Doom-mongers predicting that winter was over. But it’s not over till the fat lady sings. The weekend of the 9th/10th March was set to bring snow, and indeed it did. Unfortunately this was accompanied by strong winds, preventing the chairlifts from running.

Ski School

A Long weekend

I had traveled up on the Saturday intending to stay till Monday. The hills were white and the sun was shining through the clouds. But when I arrived at Glencoe Mountain Resort, I could see the flags tugging at their halyards. I could already see the dejected look in visitors faces. Saturday had been blown off. I had friends back in Glasgow watching the Scotland v Wales rugby match and decided to head back and check the weather for Sunday.

Creag Dhubh

Sunday arrived and I left early for Glencoe. The snow started falling before I was out of Glasgow and it only seemed to get heavier. Stopping briefly in Tyndrum to check messages the snow was at its heaviest. I was informed that the road got better beyond Loch Tulla, so I continued on. There was a bit of sliding involved, but the road did improve but not till after I witnessed some poor soul in a jeep who had slid off the road. Rising up to Rannoch Moor, conditions worsened again. It seemed like I was the only one on the road as I picked my way across the blizzarding road. The snow was getting thicker by the minute, blown from the moor, immediately covering my tracks.

As I slowed to take the left turn up the access road, the anti-skid brakes kicked in and I slid right past the entrance to Glencoe. Luckily there was no-one behind me as I thankfully came to a stop. I checked my mirrors and reversed back to the turn off and creeped up the access road to the car park.

My relief at making in one piece was soon tempered as it became clear after a bit of a false start, that the wind once again would scupper any plans for uplift. The cafe was full of disappointed skiers and snowboarders, but I couldn’t help thinking about the ski centre and staff. For the wind to strike at the weekend was just terrible luck.

Glencoe Mountain

I decided I was going to stay. I had taken Monday off, and I didn’t fancy risking the road south, especially since it had closed due to an accident and the snow was continuing to fall. I spent my afternoon taking photos in the snow and writing up some earlier blogposts before tucking myself in for the night. It was still snowing.

Third Time Lucky

I awoke to bright skies on Monday morning and I could see the sun striking the top of Creag Dhubh. While I had felt the odd buffet through the night, all seemed calm.

I got my gear ready, grabbed something to eat and boiled up a coffee to take up the lift.

snowy carpark
Looking up the lift

There was blue sky, sunshine and plenty of snow from the previous days storms. As I took the Plateau Poma up, I spied some untracked spots, just below the Spring Run and over on the Wall. After the Cliffy I made my way up to Main Basin, where I could see the windblown powder had stacked up, forming a huge wind lip. It was still bright and it looked like today was going to be a great day. 

Main Basin T-bar

First turns of the season down Main Basin felt great. Grippy, heavy wind packed and barely a rock in sight. It may be March, but this was effectively early season conditions, and by that standard the hill was looking in good shape.

Reaching the bottom of Main Basin, I cut right onto Ski Tow Gully. This is always a sweet run as it captured all the wind blown snow and gives you a direct route to the bottom of the T-bar. Straight back on and several laps in the bag.

I got chatting to Frank, a regular at Coe and we decided we’d take a look at the Springy. The snow was deep across the track at the summit, but dropping into the Spring Run, the first few turns were a touch crusty, not what we were expecting. Visibility started to go a bit, but further down, the snow got softer, making for beautiful feeling turns, cutting right under the Flypaper and on to Rankin’s Return then straight back to the top. Later laps of the Springy in better light proved even more fruitful, as you could find the softer patches much easier, making for magic turns all the way down.

Glencoe Mountain Resort
top if the wall

Mixing it up a bit, we did give Rannoch Glades a go. But we soon found our route blocked by the many rocks, and the snow had iced up here. It was all a bit windblown and we were soon chased back to the packed powder by the sharks in the rock garden. A bit of P-texing is on the agenda when I get home.

The Wall T-bar was not running, but we cut left onto the bottom of Happy Valley then on to the Wall itself. This had some short but sweet steeper turns before we took the Cliffy back up.

the wall
Our tracks down The Wall

The afternoon was more of the same. The wind wasn’t too strong and helped refresh the slopes.

My legs could definitely feel it. They had not been getting the exercise they usually do at this time of year, but we kept going and it was a full day. From 9 through till 4, stopping briefly for a coffee.

on the Spring Run

The sun had been intermittent with pulses of cloud and the odd snow flurry passing through.

At the end as we strapped in at the top of Spring Run, the wind picked up again and the sky darkened a bit, flinging up the spindrift, we picked our way down until visibility improved and we made for the Access chair.

From top of Spring Run

Is it too Much to ask?

We had an amazing day, and I think everyone there was relieved to get back on the snow. I don’t wish to jinx anything, but could it be that we do have a spring miracle?

It looks like snow is forecast for the rest of the week, with strong winds, before settling down for the weekend. Is it too much to ask that we have a late winter in springtime. Maybe, just maybe, we can pull something back and save this season. Today was only day 2 of my Scottish season. Fingers crossed we can get lots more days in like this before the fat lady does indeed sing.

One More Thing

While staying in the carpark at Glencoe, I did notice they have put up some donation boxes around the carpark. I’m as guilty as the next person, taking for granted the services provided. I think these boxes are a great idea and a way to lessen the strain, even if it’s just a gesture to say thanks, particularly during a season such as this one.

So if you’re parking up for a while, try to do the right thing and say thanks with a wee donation.

parking donation