Day 22: 2017/18

Glencoe Mountain Resort

The ‘Beast from the East’ part two was due to hit this Saturday. It was not going to be as intense as the last one, but it was bringing with it some strong winds. Since I had to stop by the office on the way North, I decided to leave later than usual. I would only be doing an afternoon at Glencoe. I’d be staying up there for a few days anyway, so no rush.

summit Lifts
Summit Lifts

Conditions on the Hill

I arrived around 11:00 and grabbed something to eat. The web cameras were not looking promising. There were some snow showers passing through and visibility was minimal. The reports also made it clear that there was a good amount of ice off the pisted areas. I suppose after the warm sunny conditions of last Sunday, it was inevitable there would be some thaw then a freeze. It was a cold one, below -8 I think and with wind chill, well into double minus figures.

As I arrived at the top of the Plateau Poma, it was an all too familiar blizzard and white out. But there were plenty of people around making the most of the extensive coverage. I made my way directly to the Wall T-bar then up to the summit.

ranch glades
Rannoch Glades to the left of the Summit Tow

There were very few people up there. As I took the Main Basin T-bar, the sky started to brighten. The few people at the summit descended via Happy Valley or Main Basin, I however was eyeing up the Eastern side of the up-track, the Rock Garden, Rannoch Glades, whatever you call the top bit! This was untouched and completely fresh. Usually rock strewn, the drifts had covered it and it was bulging with fresh wind packed powder.

I made this my first run, and with it the sun started to poke through the clouds. I couldn’t have timed it better.

The first few turns were a bit noisy, with some crust, my Box Knife dealt with it no problem. I followed the up-track closely where the powder deepened and eventually I snaked my way under the static Poma into Ski Tow Gully. This too had plenty of fresh turns until a hundred meters or so from the rescue hut where it returned to ice. Again the Box Knife handled this with ease. I was straight back on to the T-bar.

Now this was only an afternoon, but I decided that, apart from a brief interlude on Happy Valley, that I would stay on the same run for the rest of the day.

Waiting at the top of the ski run
Waiting for a gap in the clouds

It’s a run that doesn’t usually get much action, but it wasn’t long before everyone had cottoned on and pretty much everyone at the top came down this route.

Thee wind was so persistent that the drifting snow refreshed the powder over and over again.

We would all just wait at the top for a squall to pass through and drop in as soon as it cleared up, a bit like surfers lining up for a wave.

Due to visibility there were not many photo opportunities, but the light and the snow at the top was constantly changing so I would try to capture these changes when I could.

ski tow gulley
Looking down Ski Tow Gully

End of the day

After grabbing the last lift to the top I came down the same route then on to Mugs Alley, then Rankin’s Return. This flat track was incredibly icy. It wouldn’t have been fun spending much time on this! But there were soft pockets of snow. Thankfully this was true for the slope under the main Access Lift. This route back to the car park had some nice turns at the start, gradually becoming more icy as the end drew closer.

Turning around a few heather clumps before joining the Red Run, I was at the bottom and skidded to a stop right where I’d parked the car.

That was a really fun afternoon, low expectations, but great results. Roll on tomorrow.

spindrift in the rock garden at glencoe
Looking up Ski Tow Gully
car park run
Red Run to car park

5 layers of clothes
5 layers for one of the coldest days of the season