Highlands & Islands

More than 10,000 skiers flock to Scotland's slopes

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Media captionSnowboarders tell the BBC's Rona Dougall they are enjoying the snowy conditions

Scotland's winter weather has been a bonus for skiers with more than 10,000 taking to the slopes at four of the country's ski centres over the weekend.

The Nevis Range had its earliest start to the season for 13 years on Saturday while Glenshee had about 4,500 visitors over Saturday and Sunday.

Up to 4,000 skiers were at CairnGorm, up to 900 at the Nevis Range and about 800 at The Lecht.

Glencoe ski resort is not yet open as it does not have enough snow.

On Saturday, Colin Kirkwood, of CairnGorm Mountain told the BBC Scotland news website: "We have had over 1,500 skiers. At this time of year, depending on how much snow we have, we would usually see a few hundred.

"We managed to get all the roads and car parks clear so people were able to get onto the slopes and enjoy really good quality snow."

A spokesman for the Nevis Range said: "The skiers were delighted we were open. It was a very good atmosphere."

Avalanche warnings

Avalanche warnings have been issued for the Highlands.

Willie Anderson, a member of CairnGorm Mountain Rescue Team for more than 30 years, said there would be a "high risk" of avalanches across parts of the mountains in the Highlands.

Image caption The winter weather has increased visitor numbers at Scottish ski centres

On Friday, CairnGorm warned some visitors appeared to have ignored warnings at its site.

Yellow and black flags have been used to mark out areas of high avalanche risk.

Staff have urged people to use the Sportscotland Avalanche Information Service (SAIS).

The service has started providing weekend reports for Lochaber and Northern Cairngorms and will launch its full service from 16 December.

Bill Wilson, who runs a business selling sledges and hiring skis at Glenmore, near Aviemore, has bought a machine to make snow last 40% longer on forest tracks.

The cross country piste machine cuts parallel tracks for skiers to use on Forestry Commission Scotland land.

The vehicle packs down snow which should make it harder to melt in warmer temperatures.

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