Cairngorm ski area above Aviemore in Scotland is expected to open for its 18-19 ski season on 27 December, thanks to a last-minute £1m investment in snowmaking.
The centre’s owners, Highlands & Islands Enterprise (HIE), invested the money, much of which went on a large SnowFactory all-weather snowmaking unit, in response to the news that the centre’s funicular railway, used to access its more snowsure upper runs, may be out of action this season.
The closure of the funicular, which has not actually been confirmed, with the lift officially only temporarily closed whilst awaiting a twice-delayed report from engineers as to whether it is safe to run (now expected in January), was also given as the reason for the centre’s operator, an ‘arm’s length’ company run by a business called Natural Retreats, to declare it was entering administration.
Cairngorm is the third of five Scottish ski centres to invest in a SnowFactory, manufactured by Italian company TechnoAlpin. The machines creates snow inside a large articulated unit, which is then spread on the slopes. Glencoe and The Lecht have been open since December 1st creating short runs with their machines. There’s not been enough natural snowfall for Scottish areas to open otherwise so the machines are proving their worth so far, even though they are not designed to cover large areas.
“The team are back at work now, and we have pushed the snow-factory snow out, to create a fairly decent beginner area, with a 60m rope tow. We will open this area tomorrow for classes under ski school instruction at 9.45,” a statement from the new operators at Cairngorm, a company set up by HIE, issued this afternoon reads. It continues, “The SnowFactory is also back in full production and will hopefully keep adding to the size of the beginner area over the coming days.”
The official website of Cairngorm Mountain and the centre’s social media pages do not appear to be active anymore, but a new Facebook page at: facebook.com/cairngormteam is carrying updates on conditions.
HIE recently announced a 25% cut in planned lift ticket prices, that season tickets issued by the defunct former operator would be honoured and that planned base car parking charges would not be introduced this season.