The Scottish ski resorts will be hoping that the recently-announced plans to invest £5.5 million in new lifts will spark a new lease of life for the industry, upping customer numbers and improving the overall experience. Glencoe, for example, will soon be able to accommodate double the amount of slope users while simultaneously shortening the queues.
If you accept that it’s not quite the same as riding abroad, and stock up with the appropriate gear, you might get some of the best days of your shredding life.
For some, this won’t mean anything; “Who wants to ride in Scotland?!!" said one online commenter recently ( and sadly not in a rallying-the-troops kind of way). Yes, there are those who’d sooner book a package holiday with Isis than a snow trip to the Highlands, but it’s their loss. If you accept that it’s not quite the same as riding abroad, and stock up with the appropriate gear, you might get some of the best days of your shredding life.
Here are a few things you should really have in your possession. You won’t need all of them on the hill, but they may prove essential:
Weekends can get pretty crowded at the Scottish resorts, and public transport is rarely an easy option. Various dry slopes and clubs put buses on, but if you’re taking your own wheels then an early start is an absolute must. Get one of those hellish bell-and-hammer ones if that’s what it takes – it might rouse everyone in a three-mile radius, but it’ll get the job done.
Forego that extra half-hour in bed and make sure you’re one of the first in line
Some resorts are forced to suspend ticket sales on busy days to prevent unmanageable overcrowding, and this is even more of an issue when some lifts can’t be opened due to wind. Also, at Cairngorm you may end up in the overflow car park, where you have to wait for a shuttle bus to take you to the top.
The resorts are all very good at keeping customers informed via social media, so if you are running late then check the feeds to get any updates on ticket sales and parking. But an even better plan is to forego that extra half-hour in bed and make sure you’re one of the first in line.
When it’s truly blowin’ a hoolie up the hill, any exposed skin between jacket collar and goggle could be in for an absolute scouring.
It’s the best use of a small piece of fabric since the invention of bog roll
It’s an easy fix, though – a lightweight facemask or neckwarmer will make the world of difference, keeping you on the hill while the pink-cheeked brigade slope off for a coffee. It’s the best use of a small piece of fabric since the invention of bog roll.
Goggles With Changeable Lenses
You should have a decent pair of goggles anyway, but double-check it’s in your bag before setting off! Sadly a lot of riding days in Scotland feature ‘challenging’ levels of visibility, at which times you’ll need all the contrast you can get.
Sadly a lot of riding days in Scotland feature ‘challenging’ levels of visibility
However, it’s often a case of four-seasons-in-one-day, so keep that darker lens handy for when the sun breaks through the clouds.
Piste-grooming in Scotland has never been better, with bashers now on site at every resort. However, the off-piste can be pretty rocky, so there’s the ever-present danger of taking a gouge out of your base.
A good repair job will last for ages, and your board will feel as good as new
Buy P-tex candles from your local snowboard shop, and learn how to use them. A good repair job will last for ages, and your board will feel as good as new. Unless you’re overly precious about your base graphic, it might not be as big a deal as you first thought.
For obvious reasons, the Scottish resorts are located in remote, hilly regions, and this can make card readers pretty temperamental – especially when the weather’s playing up.
It’s one of life’s pleasures to buy your mid-shred coffee/beer with UK cash.
Keep things moving along by bringing enough cold hard cash for everything you need. And don’t worry – while the reverse often isn’t the case, Bank Of England notes will be accepted…
Also, it’s one of life’s pleasures to buy your mid-shred coffee/beer with UK cash. See all those bronze coins you just got back? You’ll actually be able to find a use for them later on!
Essential? Maybe not – but if you’re up on the right day, you’ll kick yourself for leaving the camera at home. Scotland’s wooden snow fences have their own unique charm, and make for much prettier scenery than orange-cushioned Alpine snow cannons.
If you’re up on the right day, you’ll kick yourself for leaving the camera at home
The individual resorts all have their own appeal, too; Loch Morlich provides an epic backdrop to Cairngorm’s slopes, while Glencoe is situated in Skyfall country. You might even spot some deer on the way to Nevis – although hopefully your experience will be better than the one Dan Milner had above.
Yes, the slopes are longer in Europe and the States. Yes, the lifts are faster, the weather’s often better, and there aren’t as many rocks. But as with everything in this game, you get out what you put in. If you squeeze every last drop out of each run by looking for the unique hits and natural features that lurk around each corner, you can’t help but have an amazing time.
As with everything in this game, you get out what you put in
So the next time your mouse drifts zombie-like to the bookmark for CattleAir.com’s Geneva flights, think about rolling the dice with a trip up north instead.