On Wednesday 10th June Save the Ciste undertook a site visit to survey and visualise the options for utilizing the currently non-lift served lower Aonach from the Coire na Ciste Chairlift.
These measurements will guide modelling of snow making potential in the lower Ciste. Snow making which will change utilization of the Ciste Chairlift from almost exclusively an access lift – the capacity of which was largely an untapped resource for much of the day – to a lift which serves and accesses a range of runs and terrain park for all ability levels at a lower elevation out of the worst of the mountain weather on terrain sheltered by the high and steep sides of Coire na Ciste.
The sheltered nature of the lower Ciste means it will be usable on many days that high winds and severe overhead conditions prevent use of the upper mountain. That sheltered nature of the slopes within the lower Coire is also important for maximising the benefits from modern snow making, as the relative shelter from warm winds and driving rain reduce melt rates and this gain is maximum in the narrow and deep lower most section of the Ciste Gully approaching the carpark.
On the annotated aerial photography, the purple dotted lines demark the constraints on the width of a fall-line lower Aonach Piste to pass cleanly between chairlift pylons. At 90m wide, this allows more than ample space for approximately 3 distinct lines on the lower Aonach.
One line containing a more challenging intermediate to advanced park starting at OverYonder giving the length to create a park that flows allowing numerous features to be hit per run, a blue graded Lower Aonach trail accessible from OverYonder and the top of the Ciste Chairlift, plus a novice to early intermediate shorter park containing features suitable for those just starting out in freestyle snowsports.
These three lines on the lower Aonach would runout onto the Coire floor before converging with a fence line from the lower Ciste Gully into a 15 to 20m wide link back to the proposed mid-line loading station on the Coire na Ciste Chairlift.