pix from the slopes // cairngorm mountain
CairnGorm Mountain // Saturday 26th February 2011
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H11lly traverses out of the Ciste Gully along fences just above the boardwalk.

Sheiling area of the Carpark Run from the foot of the M1 Poma.

Afternoon snow showers in Coire Cas. Great for a moderate cruise on the pisted loose snow.

Fiacaill Traverse. Nessie Rollers are still there, but the Fiacaill park has been leveled out after the thaw, great spring snow.

That's all folks, last turns down Burnside at the end of the Day. Still top to bottom despite last weeks thaw.

Wide and deep base in the Ciste Gully, pick of the day for more advanced riders. Further down you got the better it got.

Looking for a gap in the fence after traversing the West Wall from the Ciste Gully.

Polar Express Trainer Tow in the Ptarmigan Bowl. Excellent areas for beginners.

Ptarmigan Restaurant and Top Station.

Skiers and boarders arrive under the West Wall Chair from the Ciste Gully.

Telemarking in the Ciste Bowl, great on the pisted area, bit rattly though grippy off it.

Ciste Gully and East Wall No 1 Gully from the West Wall, this is marked for the traverse but misses the best of the Gully.

The M2 vanishes over the horizon with Loch Morlich beyond. M2 has some rocks to watch out for on the steeper pitches.

Overview of the Upper Zig Zags, M1, Horizon Road and White Lady. Main trails retain a good base.

Completely flat across the Gunbarrel from the M1 queuing area to the Zig Zag link.

Beginner classes in the Ptarmigan Bowl as a snow shower moves in.

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There's still the full Cas side vertical with top to Daylodge riding on offer giving 1700ft of vertical.

A mixed bag in terms of both surface conditions and overhead, so much so that at one moment in the afternoon the Fiacaill Traverse was bathed in sunshine while the upper Cas was engulfed in mist and a snow shower!

Surface conditions evolved through the day with the snow pack loosening up more widely as the day went on. Generally a firm, but grippy snow pack to start, but aspects exposed to the SW gales and rain such as the East Wall and parts of the M1 Race Track are boiler plate.

Coire Cas on the other hand was hero style loose granular spring like snow, with a hint of spring snow bumps later in the Gunbarrel. The Ciste Bowl was fantastic on the groomers for early intermediates up, but venture off it and you soon got a feel for why the East Wall stayed closed.

While the Cas was brilliant for a more moderate cruise, the pick of the day for more advanced riders was undoubtedly the Ciste Gully. Many were traversing high on the West Wall, but were missing out the best of the snow in the lower half of the Gully. Keep going down and exit sharp left just above the boardwalk along the fence line to get the full run. The short hoof over to the WWP from near the end of the fence is well worth the extra turns in the Gully.

Cas Tow and M1 Poma seemed to be attracting crowds, the firmer start up top seemed to put people of the Ciste side. So despite great riding in the Ciste Gully, the West Wall Poma queue was very rarely off the raised loading gantry, in stark contrast to earlier in the week!

Aonach Bowl was also worth a blast, firmer, but took an edge beautifully. M2 has taken a battering as it often does, exposed to the full force of the SW storms 2-3 feet of snow has gone from between the fences. It is still complete and mostly reasonable, but look out for the odd rock on the steeper pitches.

Overall still some great riding to be had, with some snow showers and slightly fluctuating freezing levels over the next few days, a bit of exploring maybe required to find the best riding each day.
Pix from the Slopes for the 2011 Season
CairnGorm Mountain

Nevis Range

Glencoe

Glenshee

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