Scotland Ski Holiday Travel Guide

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Scottish winters vary greatly, having plenty of snow till April in some years, and other years barely none at all. The season generally runs from Christmas to late April but it's virtually impossible to forecast whether there would be snow in a week's time, much less several months ahead. In these era of doom and gloom for Scottish skiing, Scotland's most progressive ski center is trying to diversify to avoid the fate experienced by most of its competitors. The funicular is at the core of the plan, bringing in more and more non-skiers to the region.

In its first year of operation, the amount of visitors who arrived at Cairngorm for reasons other than snow sports was 180,000. Even so, because of poor snow conditions, the number of skiing tourists was just 45,000, less than half the expected 100,000. The funicular, designed to operate safely in wind speeds of equal to 75mph, is likewise at the center of the skiing action, which has frequently been cut short by the gales that shoot across the mountains.

Coire Cas and Coire na Ciste are the two leading points for Cairngorm's skiing - Coire na Ciste is the smaller of the two bases consisting of no more than toilets, a ticket office and a chairlift that goes up the mountain. Over at Coire Cas you'll encounter the main center of operations, with ski hire, ski pass office, bar, restaurants and ski school. This too, functions as the departure point for the funicular, which climbs up to the top of the ski area at 3,600ft. From here you could either go down the main Coire Cas bowl on the red M1 or White Lady pistes, cross over to a trio of draglifts which offers a series of easy (but really short) blues, or go into the more testing Coire na Ciste gully, which starts out green but quickly goes steep into a choice of red or black. Cairngorm's steepest skiing can be found on the gullies leading off the East Wall. When conditions allow, there's a terrain park with jumps, rail slides and other features.

Cairngorm Lodge Youth Hostel Cairngorm Lodge Youth Hostel: Image # 1Cairngorm Lodge Youth Hostel
Cairngorm Lodge Youth Hostel is situated in the heart of the Cairngorm National Park, 7 miles from Aviemore and just 2 miles from the Cairngorm mountain railway

Starting at US $28 Per Night

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