Highlands & Islands

Tonnes of snow made for Cairngorm Mountain ski season

Artificial snow, with real snow on hills in the background, at Cairngorm Mountain Image copyright Cairngorm Mountain
Image caption Artificial snow, with real snow on hills in the background, at Cairngorm Mountain

Almost 100 tonnes of snow has been artificially produced every day for more than a month at an outdoor ski centre.

The snowmaking has been done in preparation for the official start of Cairngorm Mountain's snowsports season on Saturday.

The artificial snow will mean skiing and snowboarding can be guaranteed on lower level runs.

The centre near Aviemore is owned by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE).

It is operated on the public agency's behalf by Cairngorm Mountain (Scotland) Limited (CMSL).

The artificial snow has been made using a "snow factory" machine.

Cairngorm Mountain, along with other outdoor snowsports centres - including The Lecht and Glencoe Mountain - have been using snowmaking in recent winters to guarantee snowsports on some runs when there is insufficient natural snow.

The Nevis Range Mountain Experience, near Fort William, has purchased a new snowmaking plant as part of £1m investment in infrastructure.

Events to mark the Cairngorm Mountain's snowsports season include ski schools for children, demonstrations by Cairngorm Mountain Rescue Team and a screening of the animated movie Frozen.

HIE said during the season it would be running nine surface lifts which should enable up to 1,000 visitors a day to access the slopes when conditions are suitable.

It said all surface lifts would be operational as and when snow cover and customer demand permits.

Image copyright Cairngorm Mountain
Image caption The snow-making started at the end of October

The centre's funicular railway remains suspended after it was closed a year ago because of structural problems.

A decision has still to be taken on repairs to the railway.

HIE said in busy periods up to 10 designated staff, called hosts, would be working at the ski lifts.

They will work alongside the centre's core operations team, meeting and greeting visitors, providing help when queues build up, communicating information, and providing cover during breaks.

Susan Smith, of CMSL, said: "This is a big day for us, and we're determined to make it a great one for everyone who comes along.

"There's so much to do at Cairngorm Mountain and this is an excellent opportunity to celebrate what the centre has to offer.

"The snow factory has meant we are able to guarantee snow on the day and have an area of the lower hill open for snowsports."

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