Mass snowmaking at the Scottish ski area means there’s guaranteed skiing. But there’s a new warning of a big decline in natural snow.

The Cairngorm snow factory has been producing around 96 tonnes of snow every day since the end of October in preparation for the opening this Saturday.
It means guaranteed skiing and snowboarding on the ski area’s lower slopes.

Cairngorm Mountain says it’s planning a ‘fun packed day of activities’ to mark the official launch of the snow sports season.

“This is a big day for us, and we’re determined to make it a great one for everyone who comes along,” said Susan Smith, interim chief executive at Cairngorm Mountain.

“There’s so much to do at Cairngorm Mountain and this is an excellent opportunity to celebrate what the centre has to offer.

“The snow factory has meant we are able to guarantee snow on the day and have an area of the lower hill open for snowsports.”

Snowmaking at Cairngorm

Mass snowmaking at Cairngorm

The season begins as a new report suggests there is likely to be a big drop in the number of days of snow cover in the Cairngorms from 2030 as a result of climate change.

A report, commissioned by the Cairngorms National Park Authority and the Scottish climate centre, ClimateXChange, says the next 10 years are likely to have snow cover patterns similar to the previous 10.

Bur the decline after then is likely to be ‘substantial’.

The research was carried out by scientists from the James Hutton Institute and Scotland’s Rural College.

It used historic temperature and precipitation data going back 100 years with observed snow cover days from 1969 to 2005.

Data modelling and climate projections from the Met Office were then looked at to identify possible future trends.

Helen Rennie

Skiing the last remaining snow patches in the Cairngorms, August 2019

“There are many weather factors that determine when, where and how much snow falls, and what happens to it once it’s on the ground, for example how windy it is,” one of the co-authors, climate change scientist Dr Mike Rivington, said.

“This report only looks at what rising temperatures may mean for the number of days with snow on the ground in the Cairngorms National Park.

“If we are successful in reducing emissions globally, we may moderate the impact.

“The historical snow cover data for the Park is incomplete, limiting analysis.

“Combined with daily climate projections available only for one emissions scenario, we need daily projections to look at the number of snow cover days in the future.

“This report is only a first step, and not a blueprint.”

Cairngorms National Park

Cairngorms National Park

The Cairngorms National Park Authority Chief Executive Grant Moir, said there was much good work already being done in the park but it needed to be scaled up to help tackle the climate emergency.

“As well as looking at what can be done with partners across the Park, we are taking our corporate responsibilities very seriously with various changes to how we operate, such as switching to more environmentally friendly vehicles and other changes to internal policies which will promote a reduction in emissions,” he said.


The Cairngorm ski area will hope that there is plenty of natural snow this winter to enable it to open up the top of the mountain.

With the funicular out of action long-term, snow is needed to open the surface lifts and get skiers and snowboarders to the higher slopes.

The management teams says it will open all nine surface lifts as and when snow cover and customer demand permits.

Cairngorm Mountain

Cairngorm Mountain

The snow factory will, at least, provide cover at low levels.

The opening day activities will run from 10am to 3pm on Saturday 7th December.

Snow sports tickets on the day are £10 for adults and £5 for junior.

The activities include:

  • Cairngorm Ski Club showing off their racing skills on a dual slalom course.
  • Cairngorm Snowboard club shredding in the mini park, with some elements of the new ‘High Five’ kids run equipment on display.
  • Cairngorm Mountain Rescue showcasing their mountaineering expertise, and a representative from Glenmore Lodge promoting ski touring.
  • Three local ski schools instructing the under-fives on a riglet (mini taster session) in the car park.
Reindeer at Cairngorm

Santa & his reindeer will be at Cairngorm for opening day

Spud the Piper, Cairngorm Reindeer, Santa and Morag (the reindeer mascot), will also be attending, and nature photographer, Andy Howard, will be signing copies of his new book.

The hit movie, ‘Frozen’, will be shown in the base station.

“We are absolutely determined that visitors to Cairngorm this winter will see and feel a marked improvement in all areas of the business”, Susan Smith said.

“We are pulling out all the stops, with a heightened focus on customer service.”

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