January brings bumper season to Lochaber ski slopes

Skier Charne Hawkes from Inverness, traversing high above the gondola station at Nevis Range.

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This winter, nature has already provided a brilliant snowy bonus for Lochaber’s two mountain ski areas.

January saw many of Scotland’s skiers and snowboarders making their way to the country’s five mountain ski areas, including Glencoe and Nevis Range, where they enjoyed superb conditions, including waist-deep powder at the latter.

Glenshee, The Lecht and CairnGorm Mountain have also enjoyed great conditions.

Chairman of Ski-Scotland Andy Meldrum said: ‘We predicted that, following a disappointing season last year, there would be good snow this winter.

‘Great snow and weather conditions in early January brought out skiers and snowboarders who’d been frustrated last season.

‘It’s almost like there’s a pent-up desire to come sliding at one or other of our five mountain resorts.’

That demand has been reflected in skier and snowboarder numbers, recorded as ‘skier days’ by the snowsports resorts.

Already last year’s season total has been surpassed. Results are also way ahead of the previous season (2015-16) and hot on the heels of the very successful winter of 2014-15.

‘It’s ironic really,’ continued Meldrum, ‘that three of our ski areas have obtained the use of Technoalpin snow factories to make snow in marginal conditions and yet nature has delivered natural snow for all of our resorts. Long may that continue!’

Technoalpin is an Italian company which has created its snow factories to produce snow at warmer temperatures and at lower altitude – ideal for Scotland’s mountain snowsports areas.

The snow is produced using an innovative heat exchanger to cool the water to freezing point without the need for any chemical additives.

As the refrigeration circuit remains closed, snow can be produced in any outdoor temperature.

And Meldrum added: ‘We expect interest to grow as a result of the Winter Olympic Games which start in PyeongChang tomorrow (February 9).

‘Ski-Scotland wishes all TeamGB athletes the very best for the Winter Games and looks forward to welcoming everyone who is inspired by the Games to try sliding on skis or a snowboard amid our stunning Scottish Highland scenery.’

·Snowsports form a significant part of Scotland’s winter tourism economy; for each £1 spent at a ski area, a further £4 is spent ‘off the hill’ in local businesses such as accommodation; places to eat and drink; shops, filling stations etc.

Since season 2009-10, Scotland’s snowsports areas have hosted around 1.8M ‘skier days’ which, using current data, have generated over £180M for the national economy.

Ski-Scotland is the marketing partnership which has promoted snowsports in Scotland collaboratively for around 30 years and comprises the five mountain ski areas (Cairn Gorm Mountain, Glencoe Mountain, Glenshee, The Lecht and Nevis Range), the sport’s governing body Snowsport Scotland, indoor real-snow centre Snow Factor in Glasgow and VisitScotland, the country’s tourism agency.

NO F06 Skier Charne Hawkes, Inverness, traversing high above Nevis Range Gondola in January.