There will be many days in the height of summer that don't reach Sunday's highs of 20°c+ so grab the shades and the opportunity for some spring riding. CairnGorm is the option of easier terrain, Glencoe and Nevis for more experienced riders.
The warmest day of Spring so far and people still lounging on Loch Morlich Beach at 7pm in March, but the temperature will drop away under clear skies tonight and with dry air and light winds the snow will once again firm up on the open terrain at CairnGorm, Glencoe and Nevis Range.
Another diurnal thaw / freeze cycle should mean a further morphing in the direction of the snowpack towards granular spring snow, catching the runs just as things loosen up will give some fantastic turns as it did for those who caught the Flypaper and East Ridge out onto Rankin's Return this morning at Glencoe (speak to patrol first about these areas).
Unfortunately thaw conditions are set to accelerate by mid week as damper air and fresher winds move in as our high pressure slips away. So the message is simple, get up this Monday if you can to either CairnGorm, Glencoe or Nevis Range, Tuesday is now looking not to bad either though not as Sunny as Monday is expected to be.
Glencoe had the Plateau Poma, Cliffhanger Chair and Main Basin T-bar up and running today but the Coire Pollach Tow track finally wilted in the warm Sunshine. Early last week the cover had significantly widened out in the Main Basin and most of the Spring Run, those along with Happy Valley are offering the main action on the upper mountain.
For more experienced skiers it's worth lapping the full on mountain vertical via the Spring Run and/or Spring Paper, cutting right out to Rankin's Return for almost the full 1400ft of vertical. Unfortunately you now need to unclip to get back to the Poma. Lower and mid-mountain runs apart from this option are principally for access, though the Wall is still in reasonable shape. Use Old Mugs Alley to the Plateau Cafe to get to the Cliffhanger Chair from the Poma. For using the Poma Run for green terrain exit before the top through a suitable gap in the uptrack fence.
Nevis Range has decent cover on the Summit Runs and Upper Goose, but the approach to the Goose T-bar load area is very thin and narrow again. This will be assessed AM and the Tow may have to shift to loading from Tower 4 in the next day or two. The lower slopes now are principally for access to / from the upper mountain.
The Back Corries caught significant amounts of windblown snow last week and cover has improved markedly, though from a very low tide so still significant exposed rock bands and various hazards. Speak to patrol before venturing beyond the front of the mountain for the latest info. It is currently possible to ski out the Rob Roy's Return to just short of the Alpha Tow and as long as the Goose Tow loads at the bottom it is possible to access it via the Alpha Tow and Alpha Traverse.
On CairnGorm the main action is in the Top Basin on the Ciste Fairway and Ptarmigan Bowl runs. There is a single route most of the way back to the mid-station via the Traverse and Coire Cas, which rather fizzles out in the lower Gunbarrel, with walking required from the M1 Crossover, or a bit further back if you come via the Zig Zags. No uplift below the Top Basin except the Funicular from mid-mountain which requires walking.
There is snow in the Ciste Gully and the Marquis Well area for those willing to hike or with touring kit that want to have a day partly on the lifts but expand the skiable terrain a bit under their own leg power.
Glenshee and the Lecht remain closed for snowsports. Should the snow come back later in Spring then as we move into April then CairnGorm and the Lecht are geographically favoured and both can come back from nothing to give decent snowsports if there is a sustained Northerly period in even late April or beyond.
High Pressure is holding on slightly longer than originally forecast to several days ago so another day of prolonged Sunshine is expected on Monday for the North and West of Scotland. With still relatively fresh snow on the ground, Sunburn will be a significant risk!
Snow will be firming up overnight in dry air and light winds, but will loosen quickly in the Sun on Monday. A light Southerly breeze will pick up, around +5 to +7°c at Munro Level.
A bit more cloud on Tuesday but the Northern Cairngorms and West Highlands from Glencoe North should hang onto dry conditions with Sunny Spells, temps will be a degree or two cooler but thaw conditions will pick up with more humid air and a freshening breeze. Looks as if Tuesday will be the last good day for a spring slide before murkier damper snow eating conditions move in mid-week.
Very early indications suggest high pressure may try and ridge back in for next weekend, but sadly forecasts indicate a sustained and accelerating thaw of lying snow with the freezing level persistently above the summits this week with rain showers from mid-week.
Check the MWIS and Met Office Mountain forecasts for the latest detailed area mountain weather outlooks.
Optimised for speedy access to the essential information from Scotland's five snowsports areas on even the slowest mobile connections our new Android app is the easiest way to keep tabs with what's happening on the move and now includes Lowther Hills Ski Club.
We have added a new webcam in Leadhills in conjunction with the Hopetoun Arms Hotel and Lowther Hills Ski Club.
CAIRNGORM: SSC and Loch Morlich webcams are online.
AVIEMORE: Aviemore, Inverdruie and Loch Morlich cams online.
GLENCOE: All mountain and base cams online. SSC AWS is temperature only.
NEVIS: Temporarily no power at Braveheart, other webcams other than the Summit will be intermittent over coming days due to connectivity upgrades currently in progress.
Glencoe: 01855 851226 www.glencoemountain.co.uk
Nevis Range: 01397 705825 www.nevisrange.co.uk
Lecht: 01975 651440 www.lecht.co.uk
CairnGorm: 01479 861261 www.cairngormmountain.co.uk
Glenshee: 013397 41320 www.ski-glenshee.co.uk