CairnGorm Mountain situated at the geographic heart of the Cairngorms National Park is undoubtedly Scotland's best known snowsports area, but it's equally also been the most controversial - none more so than during construction of it's Funicular Railway to replace original White Lady Chairlift which opened in 1961.
Overlooking Glenmore and Strathspey the mountain is a year round attraction thanks to it's Funicular Railway which opened in December 2001 and is also a year round magnet for mountain sports enthusiasts, in winter it is a Mecca for Winter Climbing thanks to easily accessible winter routes in the adjacent Northern Corries of Coire an t-Sneachda and Coire an Lochan, plus over the back in the Loch A'nn Basin around Hells Lum Crag.
Though the most prominent of the Cairngorm mountains from Aviemore and Strathspey and hence why it's name has been adopted as the English name of the range and the National Park (in Gaelic, Mhonaidh Ruaidh - the Red Mountains), at 4084ft (1245m) CairnGorm is actually the lowest of the major Cairngorm Peaks.
- 1 Location
- 2 Pros
- 3 Cons
- 4 Contacts
- 5 Planning
- 6 Resort Facilities
- 7 Ride Guide
- 8 Other
- 9 Resources
CairnGorm Mountain is situated in the Northern Cairngorms, nine miles from the town of Aviemore. On route to the mountain which is accessed by a scenic road that winds up through the ancient Caledonian pine forest is the tiny village of Glenmore and the spectacular Loch Morlich with it's stunning sandy beach that nestles at the foot of the mountain.
Though Aviemore is the nearest town, Glenmore has a large campsite with excellent modern facilities, a shope, two cafes, a youth hostel, a water sports centre on Loch Morlich and is of course home to the world renowned Glenmore Lodge - Scotland's National Outdoor Training centre, which also provides B&B accommodation and self catering lodges to let.
- Public Transport:
CairnGorm Mountain is easily the most accessible of Scotland's five snowsport areas by Public Transport, with regular rail and coach services to Aviemore from all over the UK including direct daytime and overnight Sleeper trains from London. An approximately hourly bus service runs between Aviemore and CairnGorm Mountain through Glenmore daily.
- Length of Season:
CairnGorm Mountain regularly posts the longest season of the Scottish Snowsport Areas. Located in the Central Highlands CairnGorm Mountain gets to have the best of both worlds, getting the earlier start to the season traditional in the East and a later finish traditional in the West.
2008 Season: Sat 1st December till Monday 5th May 08. 2009 Season: Sat 1st November 08 (Ongoing as off 2nd April 09).
- High Level Beginner Terrain
CairnGorm Mountain's main beginner area is situated at the top of the Mountain in the Ptarmigan Bowl, which is accessed by the Funicular Railway. This provides snow sure terrain for learning that easily accessible and located right next to the Ptarmigan Restaurant. Low level beginner slopes are also available, which provide more sheltered slopes in the depths of winter.
- Great for Mixed Ability Groups
The snow sure gentle terrain on the upper mountain make CairnGorm Mountain the ideal place for mixed ability groups. It is possible to ski from the top of the Ski Area to the Daylodge at the Coire Cas base entirely on green trails, with uplift via the Funicular Railway.
- Alternative Activities
There is a huge array of alternative activities for visitors of all ages to do in and around Aviemore and the wider Strathspey Area that puts many world class snowsport destinations to shame. Outdoor activities, mountain sports and golf are esp well catered for.
- Weather (There's a reason for all these other activities!)
Scottish weather is a fickle enough beast at the best of times, even without the altitude factor thanks to an Atlantic dominated maritime climate. Weather completely dictates all plans for any mountain activity and it should never be under estimated (esp if going beyond the developed ski areas). See resources below for several useful links for snow conditions, mountain forecasts and avalanche reports.
CairnGorm Mountain can be to put it bluntly, one of the windest places on Earth. The highest recorded wind speed on the Met Offices Summit Weather Station is 176mph (283km/h). However though not an official record (due to it not being an official station) the Funicular Railway's wind monitoring equipment recorded a mind boggling wind speed of 194mph (312km/h) during a storm in Dec 2008.
The Funicular has a wide gauge track to increase wind stability and is permitted to (and does overhead allowing) provide uplift for skiers and boarders in wind speeds up to 80mph (130km/h) and yes people DO ski on these days!
Phone: +44 (0)1479 861261 Fax:
Postal: CairnGorm Mountain Ltd. CairnGorm Mountain Aviemore Scotland UK PH22 1RB
CairnGorm Mountain is 9 miles from Aviemore and is clearly signposted from the Roundabout at the Southern entrance to the village. Matrix signs a short distance beyond the Roundabout at the village of Inverdruie and a second at the Glenmore Gates give information on the status of the road, snowsports area and Funicular Railway.
Aviemore is reached from both the North and South on the main A9 Road (police patrol this road regularly in unmarked cars as well as fixed and mobile speed cameras).
Road Directions: Highland-Instinct Route Finder
Aviemore is well served by rail with the station conveniently located in the heart of the village. The bus to CairnGorm Mountain stops at the transport interchange in front of the station. There are regular services from the North and South operated by ScotRail from Inverness, Glasgow and Edinburgh. A direct service from London's Kings Cross is operated by National Express East Coast.
- Rail - Overnight Sleepers
ScotRail's Caledonian Sleeper offers direct overnight Sleeper service offering single cabins, twin berth cabins and seated accommodation from London Euston to Aviemore. It runs six days a week excluding Saturdays.
There is an approximately hourly bus service from Aviemore to CairnGorm Mountain. Long distance coaches to Aviemore are provided by Scottish Citylink, Megabus and National Express.
The nearest airport is Inverness Airport which is located at Dalcross some 7 miles from the City Centre, there is a regular bus service between the City and airport which provides essay access to both the rail and bus stations in Inverness. There are several car hire options at the airport and hiring a car offers greater flexibility for exploring the area.
Your options for accommodation are simple, find a snow hole vacated by climbers or stay off mountain! Joking aside, the nearest accommodation to the slopes can be found at Glenmore at the foot of the mountain. There is a large Forestry Commission Camp Site with excellent modern facilities following a major overhaul in 2005.
Glenmore Lodge provides B&B accommodation in twin rooms at very reasonable rates subject to availability (it is often booked out for residential courses at the Lodge). In addition Glenmore Lodge has a small number of self catering chalets available. Glenmore Lodge
The SYHA (Scottish Youth Hostel Association) have a Youth Hostel at Glenmore, set back from the road on the left as you head up to CairnGorm. SYHA Website
For those camping, caravanning, self catering or staying in the Youth Hostel there are two cafe's in Glenmore, plus the Lochan Bar in Glenmore Lodge also serves Bar Meals. The Glenmore Cafe does excellent all day breakfasts.
After Glenmore, the next closest accommodation to CairnGorm Mountain is the large Hilton Coylumbridge complex, this is also an ideal place for families esp. with young children as it offers a wide range of facilities on site.
In Aviemore itself there is accommodation to suit ever taste and budget, from value bunkhouses to four star hotels in the Macdonald Aviemore Highland Resort and just about everything in between. An even wider range of accommodation can be found throughout the surrounding villages in Strathspey.
A full day Adult lift ticket currently costs £29. Multi Day tickets are sold as vouchers and these do not have to be used on consecutive days, they remain valid till end of season. They are available as books of 3 or 7 vouchers, the 7 voucher option working out around £21 per day.
Season Passes for the 2010 Season are now on sale at a price of £265 for an adult pass, which requires just 9 days skiing to break even.
The Ski School and Snowboard School are the official snowsports school on CairnGorm Mountain and are based in the Daylodge.
Several independent snowsport schools continue to operate, though not as many as in the past. To be edited with full list to follow.
CairnGorm Mountain Ltd (CML) provide on site equipment hire, this is situated in the Daylodge in Coire Cas. Hire is paid for when buying lift tickets in the Base Station Ticket Office, if in doubt ask a member of staff. On weekends, holidays and other busy days a number of staff are always on 'meet and greet' outside the entrance to the Base Station Ticket Office to deal with customer queries.
Off-site equipment hire is available in Glenmore, Coylumbridge, Inverdruie and Aviemore.
When the lower (Coire Na Ciste) Car Parks are in use a free shuttle bus service operates between Coire Na Ciste and the Daylodge in Coire Cas.
CairnGorm Mountain has two car parks, the principle car park is in Coire Cas where the base facilities are located and this is split into an upper and lower level. Longer stay and overnight parking is in the lower level during winter to speed up snow clearing of the larger upper carpark.
The second lower carpark is situated in Coire Na Ciste, aprox. 1.5miles from the Coire Cas base area. This is currently used as an overflow car park, with a shuttle bus running when required. The Ciste Carpark at 1800ft sits below the main winter snowline of 2150ft, but in excellent conditions it is possible to ski back to the Ciste Carpark via the Laogh Mor Return or Aonach Ridge and use the Shuttle Bus as a means of uplift. This offers up 2000ft of vertical.
As of April 2009 parking was free in both carparks, however car parking charges are due to be introduced in Coire Cas during the year.
- EDIT ACTIVITY
EDIT ACTIVITY DESCRIPTION
Bars & Entertainment
CairnGorm mountain itself features 2 bar/restauraunts, at both the bottom and top base stations. These shut at the same time the centre does, and the lack of accomodation in the immediate area of the slopes means most punters find there fun in Aviemore, where the Winking Owl and Ski-do establishments cover the whole nights entertainment from meal to bar to nightclub, should one be so inclined. There are many other hotel bars and pubs around the area, but the aforementioned tend to be the ones associated with the ski/snowboard punters.
Like most Towns in Britain, the grocery market in the town seems to be dominated by the Tescos Supermarket.
There is a fairly wide choice of snowsports related shops, offering the latest and no so latest skis and boards for hire and rent, as well as plenty of snowsports clothing.
Out of Bounds
No Cross Country trails are provided by the ski centre itself, however the Glenmore shop located between Aviemore and Cairngorm, alongside the picteresque Glenmore Forest, has announced plans to offer maintained trails and hire beginning in the 2010-2011 season.
Parks & Pipes
Park fatures are usually built on the plateu close to the Ptarmigan restaurant, however only tend to come into use and seee regular grooming towards the end of the season.
Historically the best mogul fields within the boundaries have tended to occur on the White Lady slope, however the removal of the lifts serving this slope have greatly reduced its use in the past few years.
The most accessable natural powder zone in good snow for intermediates and beyond exists between the site of the former Fiacell T-bar and the Fiacail Ridge Poma.
More advanced riders may prefer the less groomed Coire na Ciste area or the Coire Cas headwall.
Little or no sheltered areas exist on the Mountain, the number of trees within the ski area boundary countable on one hand.
The lower half of the Coire na Ciste side of the Ski area offers some cover as it forms a gully towards the bottom of the ski area.
Some lifts, particularly the drag lifts on the Coire na Ciste side, can be extremely harsh weatherwise sue to lack of shelter or tree cover.
Cairngorm Mountain has a sled area at the top of the Mountain, which usually only opens on days with high visibility and good snow cover at the top. Sleds must be hired onsite.
The Weather conditions on Cairngorm are, like all Scottish Ski Centres, heavily affected by the countries maritime climate. A bluebird day can quickly turn into 2 foot visibility with driving wind and sleet, yet ski-ing at the top of the mountain often continues into May with patrons wearing kilts, t-shirts and fancy dress on the slopes.
Strong winds often close down lifts, particularly those on more exposed ridges, although the Funicular train is able to operate in higher winds than its predecessor chairlifts. However, heavy snowfalls can occasionally see the funicular train out of action due to the tracks getting snowed under.