Scottish ski areas kicked off the season Saturday, thanks to the ample snowfall last week.
Unfortunately the strong winds which followed the snow (up to 165mph) caused damage and derailed lifts. The gusty conditions are still causing a few problems, restricting open terrain.
More than 400 skiers and snowboarders took advantage of clear skies and pisted powdery snow conditions to get Cairngorm Mountain off to a great start on Saturday.
Skiers and boarders enjoyed excellent conditions in the Coire Ciste and Ptarmigan areas of the mountain. A further 200 visitors who were not skiing also rode the funicular to the Ptarmigan station to enjoy the views and to meet Santa who was paying the first of five visits to the Christmas Shop at the top.
Open lifts include: the funicular railway, Ptarmigan T-bar and the Coire na Ciste T-bar.
Marketing Manager Colin Kirkwood said, "After the stormy days of the last week it was great to be able to open for our first day of this special season with some excellent skiing albeit in a limited area of the mountain. On Dec. 23, we will be celebrating 50 years since the first mechanized uplift - the White Lady chairlift - first ran and also the 10th anniversary of the opening of the funicular railway."
Glenshee also kicked off the season Saturday after a snowy week. However, the strong winds means the snow cover varies from large accumulations to thin and narrow in places. All the runs are groomed with firm packed snow. Open lifts include: Claybokie Poma, Cairnwell T-bar, Bucharts Access Poma, Dink Dink Poma and Plastic Slope Poma.
Glencoe is expected to open very soon, but strong winds took out the power on the mountain last week. The latest update is power is now back onto parts of the mountain as of 9 p.m Sunday. The cafe and ticket office are expected to be re-connected some time this afternoon.
The Lecht opened over the weekend, but has now been forced to close its lifts due to strong winds. The latest news from the resort is that most runs have hardpacked snow cover, giving great conditions. But the resort is unable to open its lifts today due to wind speed. Keen skiers are welcome to use the ample nursery area.
Nevis Range has not yet opened for the season. The resort is still in its winter maintenance period. They plan to kick off the season Saturday, Dec. 17. For the opening weekend, the following lifts will run: Alpha, Goose T-bar and Summit lifts. Other lifts still need work following the storm damage. Progress will depend on the weather in the coming week as high winds are forecast for most days and this will limit maintenance time on the hill. There is more snow in the forecast for the next few days.