Ski Mountaineering in Scotland
Cairngorms and Eastern Highlands
For the Ben Lawers to Crianlarich area that lies farther west see the Central Highlands page.
For neighbouring areas to the northwest see our Northwest Highlands page.
There is good skiing in the Cairngorms towards the east of the Scottish Highlands. In some years they get more snow than the west coast hills and they often have slightly better weather and are more resistant to spring thaws. But everything depend on the prevailing wind directions, with easterlies bringing much more snow to the Cairngorms. Strong winds are common over the plateaus and I have had to drag my skis along the ground while crawling into a 150kph wind here. Conditions are generally at their best later in the winter and in early spring (i.e. late March and April).
A classic short tour here is the round of the Northern Corries, passing over the summits of Ben Macdui, Cairn Lochan and Cairngorm, often finishing with a run down the shallow angled Lurchers Gully.
For a good steeper descent ski across the plateau to Ben Macdui then descend the west facing slopes to the Lairig Ghru by either the Tailors Burn or Allt Choire Mhor. In spring conditions take trainers for the long but easy walk back out on the Lairig Ghru path to your car. Or skin back up to the plateau and finish with a run down Lurchers Gully or the Cairngorm Ski Area pistes.
On Cairngorm in stunning weather, March 2014.
Five skiers in a whiteout on the summit of Cairn Lochan, 1999.
Skiing the Allt Choire Mhor towards the Lairig Ghru.
These two glens at the southwestern fringe of the Cairngorms have some good ski hills around them. Access to the Glen Feshie hills is generally pretty short, starting from Achlean. Sgor Gaoith in particular gives a good short easily accessible ski day. But the access up Glen Einich to the likes of the Escalator is very long indeed and better done by bike really.
Myself at the top of the Escalator, a well-kent late season run on Beinn Einich. The access is long and flat and many skiers and boarders wait till spring when you can use a mountain bike for access.
Snowboarding The Escalator ski descent.
Mountain bikes being used to approach The Escalator ski descent.
Skiing down Mullach Clach a'Bhlair above Glen Feshie. Sgor Gaoith is the hill at the back right.
Further south and east around the ski resort of Glenshee are a number of good long and short day tours accessed from the A93. This is one of the highest roads in Scotland, giving an obvious advantage in spring snow condtions. The presence of the ski centre ensures that this road is open more often than not after recent snowfalls.
Suggestions in this area include Carn an-t Sagairt Mor and Lochnagar from Invercauld near Braemar. Also the Carn an Tuirc to Glas Maol traverse immediately northeast of the Glenshee ski area and the Glas Maol to Creag Leacach tour to the southeast.
Bootpacking up through a steep section on Glas Maol.
The summit of Creag Leacach on a windy day.
Descending the south slopes of The Cairnwell, Glenshee.
I've done a few good ski hills in this area including Bheinn a'Ghlo, which is high and has quite reliable snow, and the classic peak of Schilehallion, which needs a good cover of snow to hide the often bouldery slopes of the east ridge.
A downhill section on the ski traverse of Bheinn a'Ghlo, Scotland.
Sometimes it is surprising how little snow you need to ski a long way. We managed over 1km like this that day. Skiing on Bheinn a'Ghlo, near Blair Atholl in Perthshire.
Skiing the summit ridge of Schiehallion
For the Ben Lawers to Crianlarich area that lies farther west from here see the Central Highlands page.