There we all were, marvelling at a winter wonderland at the start of December, but it appears the snow-filled days are numbered with balmy temperatures washing over the UK.
Glencoe was one of the first ski centres to open this year, in late November, but a quick glance at the ski centre webcams show a flakey covering of snow on the slopes.
Cairngorm Mountain posted a video on December 19, saying they would not be holding snow sports on December 20, with the Ciste and Ptarmigan tow tracks patchy at best.
The guys up in Aviemore used the post on Facebook to talk about their snow machine, which is able to put out snow at temperatures of +25C.
They said: “The Snowfactory and fan gun snow has allowed snow sports lessons today at the base of the mountain and mid mountain. The trial is taking place to test how it will improve operations in the mild temperatures that we are experiencing right now.
“At the base of the mountain, we have an area that is 40 metres wide and 120 metres long, which has all been made by the Snow Factory and a single fan gun.”
The use of the Snowfactory at Cairngorm may well act as a catalyst for the other ski centres making use of the technology to have a guaranteed open and closing date for their ski seasons.
Speaking to Aff Grid, owner and managing director of Glencoe Ski Resort Andy Meldrum said: “The Snowfactory unit arrived on the December 15. We have had a few installation issues so it’s not up and running yet. It should be in the next couple of days.
“The plan is to use it to ensure we always have an area of the mountain that we can open whatever the weather. This will allow a set opening and closing date for the season from December 1 to end of April.”
Last year was one of the worst years for skiing in Scotland. In an interview with Mpora earlier this year, Andy said Glencoe managed just 32 days of skiing last year, “the rest was very, very Scottish, which is code for lots of mud and not a lot of snow.”
Glencoe Ski Resort started a crowdfunder campaign raise money for a Snowfactory unit, which has so far raised £56,340, and them “looking to raise £190,000 towards the £430,000 project costs.”
The resort currently have a lease for the unit from December 15 to the end of April, and will look at making a deal come spring with the money from the crowdfund.
When asked whether we should expect more centres to adopt such tactics, Andy acknowledged the warmer weather would likely cause others to join the endeavour.
“Very likely this technology will become standard in Scotland to help deal with the vagaries of the Scottish weather. Currently Glencoe and Cairngorm are trialing a unit and the Lecht have a trial unit arriving in February for a couple of months.
“Being able to guarantee a set opening and closing date for the season will be a real game changer for Scottish skiing.
“You only have to look at this week as an example: Saturday past all resorts open with great skiing. This morning (December 20), after a brutal thaw, looks like all are closed again.”
According to marketing manager Max Rougeaux of TechnoAlpin , the creators of the Snowfactory, the company is selling more and more of the units, with 20 in action back in October this year.
It’s a troubling reality for Scottish ski resorts, but with support from the public it is hoped they can get enough money to extend their use of the Snow Factory beyond spring.
Glencoe is the oldest ski and snowboard area in Scotland, established back in 1956.