Friday 23rd February 2018, 2:29pm
Snowsports tourers accessing the hills via the Glenshee Ski Centre have been assured of a friendlier welcome in future.
And they, in turn, have been asked to consider the legitimate interests of the centre’s operators and the downhill skiers paying to use the facilities there, and to ensure their access is responsible.
The winter season started with a bad taste for some Mountaineering Scotland members after run-ins with staff as they crossed through the ski area. In three separate incidents members complained of belligerent staff members giving wrong and conflicting advice, which one person claimed was actually dangerous.
Following an approach by Mountaineering Scotland, management at Glenshee have apologised for the conflicting advice given to one member and said training and guidance was being given to staff on communicating directions and advice given regarding route choice.
David Farquharson, Director of Glenshee Ltd, said some written advice provided by them to Scottish Mountaineer should have been better worded too.
He said: “The statement in the autumn 2017 edition ‘Glenshee asks any tourers not paying the ticket to avoid the piste map area’ was perhaps misleading in that we should be saying ‘please avoid the pistes and lift lines in the piste map area’.”
Signs with a similar message are also being replaced.
However, Mr Fraquharson has in turn asked snowsports tourers to adhere to the Snowsports Touring Code and avoid disruption of downhill skiing or uplifts.
He said that while there was no problem finding a route to Glas Maol, the route to Vrotachan on the west side of the road is more of a problem due to topography. “Anyone taking this route through the ski area will be in conflict with skiers coming down from Cairnwell, Butcharts Access and the Cairnwell Café areas.
“We have prepared route indicators for tourers but due to marginal conditions we have not been able to use these yet.”
He said as a result of earlier discussions with Mountaineering Scotland, which led to the Snowsports Touring Code, the centre had introduced the ski tourers ticket for £12 which gives three lift uses. He said: “We thought this was a good idea as it allows tourers to get up and out of the managed area quickly which is what we imagine is the goal. We have found while talking to tourers this year that they appreciate the introduction of this ticket.”
The existence of the ticket does not affect people’s rights to responsible access, but Mr Farquharson pointed out that snowsports tourers made use of many of the facilities at Glenshee, such as cleared car parking and groomed and managed snow. “All of this costs a lot of money, not to mention the fact that we lease the ground we ski on. In short we need every penny we can get to enable us to survive and continue providing employment and enjoyment to a great many people.”
He added: “With a bit of understanding on both sides I hope we can move forward in a positive manner which allows all parties to enjoy their day in the mountains.”
Mr Farquharson also noted: "In addition to the letter of response we gave to your members complaints, we would also like to point out that neither Graham McCabe or Willie - who were named in the original complaints - have worked at Glenshee for over a year. So they were not the employees that were talking to your complainants.”
Both Glenshee Ltd and Mountaineering Scotland urge snowsports tourers to read and abide by the code, which was endorsed by the Association of Scottish Ski Areas in 2016.