COMPLETED in 1989, Nevis Range is the newest of Scotland’s outdoor ski centres and has the country’s only gondola system, which whisks skiers and boarders to 650m in 12 minutes. It’s also the highest resort in Scotland, its Summit Run sitting just below the 1,221m peak of Aonach Mor.
Don’t worry if you can’t see snow when you get to the car park – the pistes are more than 2km away.
On leaving the gondola, you have three main areas of the mountain to choose from. Turn left and you’ll come to a beginners area marked on the map as Zone B – a network of mostly green and a few blue runs served by a series of drag lifts and the Great Glen Chair. Turn right and take a short walk to the Quad Chair, then cut across the top of Allt Sneachda and jump on the Goose T-bar and you’ll come out at the top of the Goose, Nevis Range’s signature red run, with various other reds branching off it to left and right.
Make your way from the top of the Goose Chair to the Summit Button, meanwhile, and you’ll arrive at the advanced area of the mountain, with the Summit Terrain Park and a couple of cruisey blues running back down the front side of the hill along the line of the tow, and the unpisted steeps of the Back Corries just a short a short slide away down Switch or Lemming Ridge.
The good news is beginners get the whole of Zone B pretty much to themselves. One of the scariest things about learning is having expert skiers flying past you as you’re trying to master snowplow turns, but most of the speed demons returning to the Gondola Station from the Goose will be far away on the other side of the mountain.
With little in the way of through traffic and eight green runs and five blues to choose from, this is a great place to learn the basics.
Better still, most of the runs in Zone B seem to end up back at the Snowgoose Restaurant, so you’re never more than a few minutes away from your next soothing hot chocolate and delicious home baking.
The Goose is a great place to pick up some serious speed, and thanks to its gentle bowl shape it holds snow better than anywhere else on the mountain. If you’re in the mood for something a little more mellow, use the Quad Chair to access the rolling blues of Far West, Easy Rider, Allt Sneachda and the Fairway.
Advanced skiers and boarders rave about Nevis Range, and for good reason. There may not be anything too testing on the front side of the mountain (apart from Warrens), but take a short stroll from the top of the Summit Button and you’ll find yourself looking down the steep sides of Coire Dubh into the area of the mountain known as the Back Corries.
The off-piste itineraires dropping off the side of the aptly named Lemming Ridge offer a serious challenge, and should only be attempted after checking conditions at the ski patrol hut at the top of the Summit Button tow. To allow advanced skiers and boarders to get the most out of this side of the mountain, Nevis Range runs a series of Back Corries workshops throughout the winter. There are also two transceiver parks in Zone B where aspiring backcountry explorers can practise their search and rescue skills.
Situated at the base of the gondola, the Pinemarten cafe bar opened its doors in April 2011. The beef and venison burgers will satisfy the biggest appetites, and the bar serves a selection of local ales. In nearby Fort William, the Grog and Gruel Alehouse and the Ben Nevis Bar are both popular with skiers and boarders.
• Altitude: 91-1,221m/299-4,006ft
• Pisted runs: 20km/12½ miles
• Longest run: 2km/1¼ miles; 4km/2½ miles unpisted
• Max vertical descent: 550m/1,804ft
• Number of lifts: 12 – 1 gondola, 3 chairs, 4 buttons, 1 rope tow, 3 T-bars
• Number of runs: 35 (6 green, 13 blue, 11 red, 5 black)
• Uplift capacity: 9,600 per hour
• Snowmaking: No
• Cafes/restaurants: One at base. Two on mountain
• Off piste: Yes, approx. 4sq km/1½sq miles. Ski/snowboard school: Yes
• Ski/snowboard hire: Yes, inc online
• Ski/snowboard clothing hire: Yes
• Shop: Yes
• Artificial slope: Yes
• Ski guiding: Yes
• Sledging/other snow fun: Yes, conditions permitting. Also snowshoeing and snowbiking
• Terrain park: As soon as snow allows. Includes rainbow rails, kickers, roller, s-rails, table top etc
• Webcams: Yes
New for 2013/14
• Extended range of performance skis in hire shop
• New webcams
• New mobile website
Torlundy, Fort William, Inverness-shire, PH33 6SQ
• Tel: 01397 705 825
• email: email@example.com