It’s been a slow season for English Skiing, at least in the Shropshire area. Christmas day saw a dusting of wet snow on the local hills but nothing much since.
Mid February I managed a short ski tour up on to the tops of the local hills, as much as anything to test out my refitted boots. However nothing like enough snow to ski down.
Looking further afield I’ve been aware of the ski clubs and tows in the North of England for a while and decided to make the effort and ski Raise. Pictures of buried drag lifts suggesting epic amounts of snow gave the perfect excuse to head North in search of snow.
An early start got me to the start of the access road by about 10ish but I was warned off going to the club car park and parked quite close to the Village. A 2km walk in later and I was on the zig zag path heading up. A broken snake of skiers ahead made route finding easy.
Snow cover started at the 500m mark prompting a swap to ski boots, put skins on and start skinning up. The conditions were a tad icy so I stopped and fitted the ski crampons which were a boon.
At the Club Hut and Tow there were already lots of skiers and much digging going on to free up the tow. By the time I’d taken a much needed breather the drag had started. Club membership in exchange for some £££ got me an afternoon’s riding on the drag providing about 120m of vertical descent.
There was so much snow that at times my head was banging against the tow cable as it dragged me up a trench that was a couple of spade widths wide. They say that drag lifts take you to the most interesting places but this was the most amazing drag lift ride yet !
The club is keen to point out that you are skiing in a mountain environment and it’s important to remember that you are effectively off piste with the assorted hazards that brings. I managed an unintentional drop off a small cornice in flat light which made to an excellent wake up call !
Mid afternoon I headed down for the long drive home. I rode East down the ridge to the club car park but there are other, steeper options to South and the ‘Sheep Fold’.
An excellent day out and it’s not an exaggeration to say that the conditions were comparable to the Alps on the day.
The club web site: http://www.ldscsnowski.co.uk/home.html
The club facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/ldscsnowski/
The route I planned to take on the walk up: http://www.outdoorsgps.com/route/show/304766_walk-up-to-raise-ski-tow In the end I stayed North of the 1st set of rocks marked on the map as I skinned up. Please see the club web site for advice on the route up and facebook posts for current conditions. Winter equipment including Ice Axe & Crampons may be required.