After two bumper winter seasons in 2009/2010 and 2010/2011, the Cairngorm Ski Resort experienced a poor 2011/2012, with the unseasonal warmth of March leading to an early closure of the slopes. However, a much colder April and an unusually chilly May have resulted in a late season bonanza, with skiers flocking to Aviemore to enjoy an unexpected late spring treat on the pistes. With the weekend outlook for the Cairngorms forecasting further light snow on Friday and wintry showers on Saturday, the resort can look forward to at least another good weekend of skiing. The cold weather should last until Monday or Tuesday next week, but thereafter the forecast becomes uncertain. There has however even been some speculation that the season could last until late June, but owing to the vagaries of the weather, not too much store should be set upon such an expectation.
Currently, five of Cairngorm’s eleven ski lifts are open, placing it in a far more fortunate position than Scotland’s other resorts, with only one lift apiece being open at Glencoe and Nevis whilst none are operating at Glenshee and Lecht. The Winterhighland site reported this evening that between four and five inches of snow have fallen at the resort since Wednesday morning, with ‘near blanket cover above 3000ft with extensive cover stretching down to around 2800ft’.
The Scottish skiing industry has always operated on the margins of viability, so the people of Aviemore for one must be glad of the miserable May weather which has given a boost to their local economy. Piers Corbyn claimed that this May stood an ‘80% chance’ of being the coldest in 100 years in parts of Britain, but whilst this month has thus far been much colder than average (with the CET currently tracking 1.53ºC below the 1971-2000 average at 9.77ºC), there is almost a fortnight to run, and as past experience has repeatedly shown, at this time of year we can experience frost one weekend and a heatwave the next.