After a week with two named storms, a ski day was keenly awaited and everything was falling into place for a windless powder day on Saturday. Excitement was building and expectations were high as we drove to Glen Shiel on Friday.
A few of us arrived early on Friday after a treacherous drive through the snow in the central belt, only to find the snow level was much higher than what had been driven through! After a few murmurs of ‘maybe we should have stayed in Perthshire’ we put our skins on and headed up the heathery mountain.

Initially the snow was heavy and we carried it on our skins up the hill. But as we climbed higher, the snow became lighter and more like the powder we hoped for.

Half way up Sgurr a Bhealaich Dheirg (one of the 3 brothers of Kintail), a stag skull was spotted buried in the snow. And as was only appropriate, the IBSC president carried it up and skied down with antlers appearing above his helmet.

As we started to climb towards the summit, our eyes on a beautiful line, the weather started to come in and we decided to ski down the way we came up. We stripped of our skins and bounced through the powder to the river crossing below. Which, in hindsight, maybe was not a good idea to ski across.

We headed back to the bunkhouse, stag head in hand, where we were met by Lizzie, Duncan and Alan. Gradually everyone arrived until we were 18 in total and we set about planning Saturday’s ski day. The large numbers of us made planning a challenge but soon the room was alive with chatter and excitement about the powder day ahead.

The weather forecast for Saturday did not disappoint and we woke to snowy hilltops and blue skies. We piled into various vehicles and headed up the snowy road to various destinations.

Al Todd, Susan Houstoun, Al Bird and Dave Mitchell headed east of Cluanie to Carn Ghlusaid where they summited two Munros and skied almost to the roadside in beautiful powder.

2km of powder !

Alan Sloan took a group to the top of Sgurr a Bhealaich where they then skied down from the summit into the eastern bowl. Benjamin and Duncan went with a larger group towards Sgurr Bhealaich but on reaching a small peak at 806, the huge powder fields on the Eastern side became too irresistible and the group divided, with some heading towards the summit and others doing laps in the bowl.

Whoops of joy could be heard across the mountains as the various sub groups covered amazing powder slopes with perfect conditions in all directions.

With the weather on the change at the end of the day, those of us left on the hill met again at pt 806 and had one last run down the hill. For the determined, it was possible to heather hop all the way back to the cars – but not without a few ski scratches!

A rare day was had by all. Skiing in Scotland is so often an experience of great snow and lots of wind or no snow and great weather. It makes it all the more special when all the conditions align!

When back at the bunkhouse, we filled the drying room with our gear and poured into the kitchen to enjoy a variety of home cooked meals, Ardgour Ale, wine and whisky.

Susan brought out her accordion and an impromptu sing-song and ceilidh was had around the kitchen table!

On Sunday, Scotland’s normal weather had resumed – it was raining heavily and the wind was picking up outside – and we woke up wondering if the powder on Saturday had been a dream.

Duncan tried to encourage a group swim but went outside to find it was the river was now in full spate. He briefly dipped in but no one else was tempted..! We then all enjoyed a big fry up together before we headed out into the rain & back to reality

Ski video highlights below

Author: Rachel Thomas

Ceildh video: Al Bird

Ski video: Ben White

Ski team

Duncan Brown Xavier Wad
Alistair Todd Eilidh Wardlaw
Al Bird Susan Houstoun
Alan Sloan Andrew Prendergast
David Mitchell Tristan Southall
Alasdair Stark Katie Smith
Lizzie Brown Roy Simpson
Lucy caird Benjamin White
Blair Duncan Alasdair Barclay
Rachel Thomas Fiona Stark
Chris Holmes Tim White