DAY 6 OF THE SCOTTISH SEASON 16/17
I had Friday 9th as a holiday from work and hoped to get a day in at Glencoe. Midweek pictures on-line had looked amazing with fresh snow and sun. My Friday didn’t offer anywhere near the sparkling conditions of the previous days. I turned up at the carpark, took one look at the grey cloud that clagged-in the mountain and decided to forget my day snowboarding, instead opting to drive in to Fort William for something to eat and book myself into a cheap hotel.
I’d come down with my second cold in as many weeks so was feeling a bit sorry for myself and could do with a rest in a soft bed rather than overnight in the car. I also made sure I parked the car in the hotel car park on arrival as previously I’d fallen victim to the money making scam that is the Morrison’s car park. (Fining anyone who stays over 3 hours in what was an empty car park).
After a pleasant enough afternoon and evening in Fort William (mostly learning how to use Motion 5 animation tool in the pub), I woke the next morning to equally grey skies as the day before. The Winterhighland forecast was positive things would improve. So, by 8:30 I was on my way to Glencoe again through mist and gloom.
As I pulled into the car park things didn’t look that great so I bided my time in the cafe with breakfast and further dabbling in motion graphics.
Around 10:00 the cloud at last looked like it was lifting. So I made my way up the access chair, not before reading on the website that a lot of snow had been lost in the thaw and that the uptrack on the Plateau was nearing its end and the lower and mid mountain were becoming broken. The top part of the mountain would be where I’d spend most of the day. Indeed, at the top of the Plateau Poma, the ground looked more like a ploughed field with dirt and boulders and not snow. At the top of the Cliffhanger Chairlift, the lifties were frantically filling in the down ramp with snow, but it seemed to be melting, faster by the minute.
Once in the Main Basin, things were looking up. Although lacking the depth of previous years, the corrie that makes up Main Basin held wet but wide-spread snow. It was quite sticky, due to water content and I nearly went over the tip of my board when landing a small jump, my board nearly stopping dead on contact with the snow. Later on I was unfortunate to land with a jolt which didn’t bother me at the time, but I later found that I had bruised the outside/heel of my foot which is currently making walking a touch painful.
Main basin was soft, but Happy Valley gave some good sport with firm snow but narrowing in places. I took the opportunity to fallow it all the way down The Wall where it was steeper, but the snow was really sticky here too and despite the steepness, I found my board slowing right down on some turns. Despite the thaw and lack of terrain available I’d had a pretty full day in fairly clear conditions. I took the chance to stop and grab a late lunch. Crossing what was now a river at the bottom of The wall, and making my way through mud to the Cafe.
After this break, I could feel my foot throbbing within my boot. It felt a bit like cramp initially, but didn’t fade. I gave it a rub before sticking it back in the boot and took the Cliffhanger back up to the top t-bar. The queues were long, but moved quickly. The cloud had stayed away pretty much all day. Unfortunately temperatures had stayed pretty warm too. The ever-present sound of water rushing in torrents under the snow spelling doom for what snow was still around.
I made my last route of the day the Spring Run. Stunning view towards Loch Tulla and the Black mount preceded the first opportunity I’ve had this season to go down the Spring Run. It was a bit choppy at the end of the day, but I was glad to be able to ride what is usually one of my favourites in the resort.
I must say that last weekend we thought we had turned a corner and that winter was finally taking hold of the mountain. Unfortunately it has just never been cold enough this season. Any snow that has fallen has done so on wet grass and the mountain has never been cold enough to hold on to that snow. Whether this is an El Niño event, climate change or just typically bad Scottish weather, it’s hard to say. The last five years have been fantastic Scottish seasons and maybe its just time for a blip. But today was rather melancholic on the mountain. I can’t help feeling it is the last time I’ll be riding here this season and definitely won’t be getting value from my season pass this year.
I had thought of staying in the car park tonight and making the most of Sunday, but with the state of the lower slopes and the uptracks I thought I’d head back down the road and asses in the morning. (needless to say, I didn’t bother with Sunday).
Fingers crossed, the optimistic Facebook page at Glencoe Mountain was saying temperatures had dropped on Sunday night and that light snow had started to fall on the summit. Winterhighland is also forecasting some blizzard and whiteout conditions later in the week. So I suppose there is hope. I seem to be saying fingers crossed a lot this season. P.S., I don’t think I mentioned I went deaf in my left ear too (cold related). FFS, things really need to start looking up.