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Snowsports Touring & Managed Resorts in Scotland

Snowsports touring (using skis or snow boards) is one of Scotland’s fastest growing mountain activities. More people than ever are moving away from managed resorts, skinning uphill and accessing more remote areas. 

Many snowsports tourers set off on their adventures from Scotland’s five managed ski areas, Aonach Mor, Cairngorm, Glencoe, Glenshee and the Lecht. The resorts all welcome tourers and most run Skimo events and they are keen to ensure this activity does not impact upon the safety and enjoyment of their downhill snowsports customers.

Mountaineering Scotland has pulled together this simple tourer’s access code with the endorsement of resort managers and users to raise awareness of tourers’ access rights and responsibilities and help everyone have a fantastic, safe day out on the hill. You can read it below, download the leaflet here, pick one up from the resorts or contact us to request a bundle to hand out to your club or group.

Legally* snowsports tourers only have access rights within managed resorts if they do not ‘interfere’ with the primary recreational activities. So, please follow this code and explore responsibly to avoid the risk of forfeiting your access rights.

  • Resort operations continue 24 hours a day including during bad weather and whether the area is open or closed. 

  • Respect any warning signs erected by the resorts, keep away from lift lines (even if they are closed) and stay out of roped off areas. Resorts are not as safe when they  are closed. 

  • Be alert for snowmobiles, groomer cables and other equipment. Stay clear of all grooming machines – do not assume the operator can see you. 

  • Grooming machines operating at night use winch cat cables which are difficult to see and which may not be directly above the machine. Avoid the slopes where they are operating.

  • Within resort boundaries you are bound by the International Ski Federation’s Code of Conduct. Those skiing or snowboarding downhill have right of way. 

  • Be especially aware of other skiers and snowboarders approaching from above, changing weather conditions (it is Scotland after all) and poor visibility. Other skiers or snowboarders may not expect you to be there. 

  • Do not attempt to use a lift unless you have a valid lift ticket. Never get on a lift if it is unmanned as it might stop and not start again.
  • Please respect the fact that the resorts have a business to run and the groomers take great pride in providing a quality experience for their paying customers. 

  • Try to plan your route to avoid crossing pistes or where this isn’t possible, minimise the amount of time doing so and be aware of downhill skiers  and snowboarders 

  • If there is no marked uphill route, please stay on the outside of the snow fence on narrow pistes (walk if necessary) or to the edge of the piste when it is wider.

  • Minimise damage to the freshly groomed runs; remember that after closing, the runs will have been prepared for the next day.

  • Consider where you might be leaving tracks and how it affects the piste. Minimise your impact. 

  • Do not dig snow holes within  resort boundaries (yes it really  has happened!). 

  • Keep dogs under close control at all times. Dogs can be seriously injured by skis or snowboards.

If you are unsure where to go within the resort area then please ask a member of staff like ski patrol. They will be happy to help and will have information on the best and safest conditions.

This Code has been produced by Mountaineering Scotland and endorsed by:

Section 6 para (1) (e) (ii) of the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 states that “The land in respect of which access rights are not exercisable is land ……. which has been developed or set out ….. for a particular recreational purpose”.

However, Section 7 para (7) qualifies this statement and states that “Section 6 (1) (e) ….. prevents the exercise of access rights over land to which it applies only if - the land is being used for the purpose for which it has been developed or set out, and, in the case of land which is not a sports or playing field, the exercise of those rights would interfere with the recreational use to which the land is being put”

In other words, if touring is considered to be “interfering” with downhill snowsports, then access rights do not exist. However, in the majority of situations, it is unlikely that those who are accessing more remote areas will be interfering with the activities of the managed resorts. Tourers who use the pisted slopes to descend whilst the resort is open will not be interfering with the normal operations and therefore access rights do exist.

The Scottish Outdoor Access Code states that “active pursuits such as …..ski touring, ski mountaineering” are recreational purposes and are therefore included in the access rights.