Splitboarding with some lift service
A few days of snow in the central belt meant there was big demand at the ski areas. Glencoe were running the plateau lifts as well as the Cliffhanger.
I had driven up through torrential rain, glad it wasn’t traffic halting snow at that level, and that it was falling where it counted, on the ski hill.
I took the Access lift up to the Plateau, but passed on the Poma that was running, opting instead to tour using my Lib-Tech Split BRD with Spark Arc bindings. Snow showers were passing through, but visibility was OK and winds were negligible. It felt a few degrees below zero, but I was plenty warm as I skinned my way up Rankin’s and past the new lift station on my way to the summit.
At the Rescue hut, I decided to take Happy Valley up to the summit. Ski Tow Gully was looking deep with windblown powder, so I thought it best be left for the descent.
Some ski tourers were ahead of me so I followed their skin track, unfortunately this meant crossing a ditch. I’m still shaky when it comes to any downhill feature on the split skis and as I attempted to cross a mini ravine, I came a cropper. I flailed about on my side and I had to remove the split ski to get myself out of the ditch. I was soon skinning upwards again, making kick turns up happy valley.
The Ride Down
On arrival at the top, I found myself with company. A good amount of people were already there making coffee, having snacks and getting comfortable. The weather was still quite changeable, so I decided to transition to board mode and head down main basing before having a snack myself.
The ride in Main Basin was beautiful. My new board rode smoothly, the early rise rocketed nose of the board floated well in the wind blown powder and when it did come to lumps and bumps it took those in its stride. Turning edge to edge felt very smooth and on the firmer track at the top of Ski Tow Gulley it carved well. The steeper portion of Ski Tow was untouched with very deep drifts. The light was a bit flat here, and I found myself sailing off a bit of a wind-lip unexpectedly, but the soft snow made for a comfortable landing.
I grabbed a drink and opened my bag of jelly babies then switched my board back to ski mode for the trip back up. This time I would take Ski Tow Gully up to the top.
Lots of zig zagging in deeper snow before the firmer track higher up. For some reason it only came to me later after a few more tumbles that I hadn’t used my crampons. Another lesson learned. I also tested the limits and angle I can skin up. On a few occasions I found when I couldn’t get the weight on my heels, the ski would skid out from under me.
I also found when I got to the top that snow had started to creep under the front of my skins. The snow was getting wetter, but at least it wasn’t clumping under the G3 universal skins.
Taking it to the Wall
My second run down crossed over from the Main Basin to Happey Valley, then down onto The Wall. Here there were climbers taking Winter Skills Courses, the once I’d negotiated a small ravine the snow here was fantastic. I continued down and decided to take the Cliffhanger Chair for a wee ride back up to the rescue hut.
Into the Afternoon
On my third trip to the top I did struggle getting up Ski Tow Gully for the third time as the powder had been compacted, and I was insistent on trying to skin straight up and not making kick turns where I should. It was all a good learning exercise though.
It was now getting noticeably darker as I made my way up Main Basin, the fog came and went, the sun was lighting a bank of cloud over the summit giving it an ethereal feel.
I made my turns down Ski Tow then cut across toward Mugs Alley. The slopes were empty and the lifts had stopped running. So it was down to Rankin’s Return I went to get to a rather busy lift line for the return down the hill on the Access lift.
It was a really full day, getting to know this board and binding set-up and also the lovely of getting back on the lifts after this long spell of them not running.
Bring on the snow. We need this season to be a cracker.