‘I’ve had more powder days than park days this year think I’ve had 2 park days in total’ was a comment left on Facebook. Natural Retreats say they have a vision for world class Terrain Park and Half Pipe facilities on CairnGorm Mountain, but even if such a park is built – it has to be maintained and available for use.
That is the problem with the Ptarmigan Bowl and above for such facilities – winter storms often prevent any Ptarmigan Park until well into Spring and attempts to cut the Marquis Well halfpipe ended with a level slope after the wind got up and filled it back in.
Even when the park can be built, strong winds and poor visibility make hitting large park features dangerous and as a result the Ptarmigan Park is often closed due to visibility and/or wind.
Save the Ciste believes the lower Aonach Bowl, sheltered by the high sidewalls of Coire na Ciste from the worst of CairnGorm’s weather provides a much more suitable location for a quality terrain park which can be maintained through out the core of the season.
Improved fencing, coupled with modern snow making would allow the creation of an excellent terrain park on the lower Aonach out onto the Coire floor. As well as shelter from the worst of the wind, this elevation is rarely in cloud compared to the Ptarmigan Bowl and as such park facilities would be usable on many days on the lower Aonach where overhead conditions would prevent use of the Ptarmigan Park.
Our numerical modelling of snow making vs melt rates indicate that a modern snow making system could average over 100 days of skiable cover on the Lower Aonach, indeed the shelter from the worst mountain weather also helps to alleviate the rate of thaw in mild & windy conditions. Around the world a robust modern snow making system located on suitable and as sheltered as possible terrain is as much the corner stone of successful high quality terrain parks as the latest Piste Bashers, pipe cutters and other shaping tools.