Snow “factories” to cover Scotland’s ski slopes this winter

Ben Nevis resort during the 2016/2017 season. PIC: Ski-Scotland.
Ben Nevis resort during the 2016/2017 season. PIC: Ski-Scotland.
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Snow “factories” will be set up at three of Scotland’s snowsports resorts this winter to guarantee a good coverage of the white stuff and a longer season on the slopes.

CairnGorm Mountain and Glencoe Mountain will be the first to use the equipment with the Lecht to deploy the snow makers in February and March.

It comes after a particularly poor 2016/2017 ski season in Scotland.

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While snow canons have been used to top up slopes with artificially-made snow in the past, this is the first time the Technoalpin Snowfactories will be used in the UK, it is understood.

The new kit does not require low temperatures to operate with the snow produced an entirely natural product, made only from frozen water with no added chemicals.

Heather Negus, chairwoman of Ski-Scotland, said: “The snowsports areas are all set to welcome the new season’s snow, both natural and factory-produced, as well as our skiing and snowboarding customers. We would encourage them to make sure they are ready for some serious snow sliding fun by having their equipment serviced early, working on their muscle toning and buying their season tickets.

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Glencoe has arranged a leasing deal for the equipment with a crowd-funding campaign underway amid hopes to buy its own kit.

The natural snowfall will determine where the snow factory is positioned at the resort.

If there is an early start to snow cover, then the factory will be used at the base station rather than up the mountain on the Plateau, a spokeswoman said.

The Lecht will install their snow factory, also by Technoalpin, on a trial basis during February and March to guarantee snow on the nursery and Osprey slopes during the school mid-term holiday and in the run-up to Easter.

The trial, which will be powered by the resort’s wind turbine, will be operated by The Lecht Ski Company with funding provided by Highlands and Islands Enterprise.

Meanwhile, work is underway at all five snowsports resorts in Scotland ahead of the new season.

At Nevis Range, a new type of fencing which has the potential to catch 50 per cent more snow has been installed on most of the lower mountain.

A new roof for the Plateau Café at Glencoe is being installed. Cross country equipment will be available for hire this winter with trails to be cut on the Plateau.

The Lecht has now completed its lift upgrade project, which includes the Snowy Owl Chair, Eagle, Osprey and Wren tows and the new Robin Sunkid tow.

Glenshee has been given planning permission for their four-person chairlift to replace the elderly Cairnwell T-bar tow.

The new chair will transport three times as many skiers as the surface tow and will be much more user-friendly for snowboarders. Work is expected to start as soon as funds are in place, most likely during spring 2018.