CairnGorm Mountain, the UK’s favourite snowsports resort, expects to open tomorrow (Saturday) for snowsports on what will be the earliest start to a season for five years.
Only 170 days after the last day of the 2012-13 season on May 19, the resort plans to welcome skiers and boarders to its Coire Na Ciste fairway on the upper part of the mountain on Saturday and Sunday.
Operations manager Colin Matthew said: ”We plan to offer snowsports on Saturday on the Ciste, with a groomed marked run on skiers’ left of the fairway.
"However, with 70mph winds we were unable to fix the tow bars onto the Ciste Tow today.
"It is looking pretty windy tomorrow as well, and if we cannot bar the tow up on Friday we will have to do it early Saturday morning, so there may be a delay to the planned 10am opening. We will know more on Friday and keep customers informed.”
Ticket prices this weekend will be £15 for adults and £10 for juniors per day.
Season passes from 2012-13 will be valid and anyone who has already applied and paid for a season pass for this season just needs to bring ID along and they will be issued with a voucher permitting them to ski for the day.
Equipment hire will not be available at the resort but will be available in Aviemore.
Conditions-permitting the resort will continue to open for snowsports at weekends in November.
CairnGorm Marketing Manager Colin Kirkwood said: Although this is not the earliest we have opened in recent times – we started skiing on November 1 in 2008 – it is great to have enough snow to ski already.
"It whets the appetite of our customers and creates a real buzz of anticipation about the place as well as spurring on those who have not already done so to purchase season tickets.
"Advance sales of these already match last season’s total. But it is not just skiers and snow boarders who are attracted by the snow.
"The funicular operates all year round for visitors wanting to get high up in the Cairngorms to enjoy the view from the terrace at the mountain railway’s top station.
"They seem to see the presence of snow there as a bonus and it certainly adds to the atmosphere of the Christmas market which we are operating in the Ptarmigan top station throughout November.
"The resort has undertaken significant maintenance of its skiing infrastructure during the summer.
"Approximately 3 kilometres of new post and rail snow fencing has been erected in order to catch more snow for pushing onto the pistes and snowmaking capacity has been increased with a new larger TechnoAlpin TF10 snow cannon in addition to the present four cannons and a new motor has been installed in the heavily used Coire Cas tow.
A replacement vehicle for gritting and ploughing has been acquired to help keep the roads clear along with a six-wheeled ATV with tracking system which will greatly facilitate movement of the maintenance team to troubleshoot around the hill.
New hydraulic rams have also been fitted to the pisting machines to facilitate the movement of snow cannons around the hill.
Snowboarders can look forward to the results of CairnGorm’s acquisition of a Pipe Magician from Corvatsch in Switzerland which will enable the resort’s pisting team to cut quarter and half pipes and shape other features in the terrain park.
The park is in its third year of sponsorship by Quiksilver Roxy and it has been confirmed that the Vans Hi Standard series event which made its Scottish debut at CairnGorm last season will return there on April 5, next year.