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The Scottish Gamble

The Scottish Gamble

Alex Jeffers
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Towards the end of a stellar Scottish ski season, Hamish Frost and friends took a punt on Sgor Gaoith being in condition. In this photo story he shows us the incredible result of that gamble.


A dramatic thaw followed by a refreeze had brought to an end a run of six very special weeks of skiing in Scotland. During that time I had enjoyed some of my most memorable skiing days in Scotland, from cruising deep, dry powder in the Back Corries of Aonach Mòr, to dawn gully skiing missions above the Loch A’an Basin, to my first ski forays in the Northwest Highlands.

2.	Scott Muir approaching a narrower section mid-way down

I’d already made plans to ski in the Cairngorms a few days after the thaw, so headed east with undeniably low expectations. The Scottish winter has a nice habit of surprising you when you least expect it though, and sure enough, during our approach the sun began to slowly soften the frozen snowpack. We reached the summit of Sgor Gaoith around mid-morning and peered over into the east face we’d gambled on being in condition, only to be confronted by some of the most impressive gully lines I’ve ever seen in Scotland. The view down to Loch Einich was more reminiscent of views in Arctic Norway than the Scottish Highlands, and to top everything off, they were definitely in skiable condition.

7.	Philip Ebert and Scott Muir climbing back up from Loch Einich after skiing our second line
Philip Ebert navigating between rock bands mid-way down the second gully

These are all relatively high consequence lines, many of them ending in cliffs or rock bands near the bottom, so you wouldn’t want to have a go at them unless the snowpack was completely stable. However the upside of the freeze-thaw cycle was that it had consolidated the snow pack, minimising the risk of any slides. We were able to ski three of the gullies, each around 300m descent, before the sun began to set, the snow became firmer and we reluctantly had to head for home.

Matt Pavitt opening up with some big turns at the top of our first line of the day
Dave Anderson finding some firm but skiable snow at the top of our second gully of the day

To find out more about Hamish Frost and his incredible photography, visit



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