It was going to be an early start as the coach was leaving from Bellahouston Park at 0615, so we decided to have Ryan stay overnight at Susan's. We picked him up from Fiona around 8.00 on Saturday night and headed over to Dumbarton where we bought a couple of pizzas and settled down to watch Hot Fuzz on the movie channel before packing the kids off to bed for a few hours sleep before what was going to be a very long day.
The alarm went off at 0415 and after a bit of a struggle we got the kids downstairs for some breakfast and then headed off just after 0530. At the ski centre we picked up our skis, poles and the kid's snowboards and made ourselves comfortable on the coach waiting for everyone to embark and by 0630 we were on the way.
The two and a half hour journey was uneventful but it was nice to see some of the sights again that I had passed whilst doing the West Highland Way last year. The slopes in Glencoe looked fab as we passed and we would have been happy to stop there as the slopes were covered with fresh snow and the Nevis range was still an hour away, but it was not to be...
We eventually arrived at the Nevis range just after 0900, just in time for the gondola to the slopes opening. Since it was a large group of us buying ski passes we managed to get them for a reduced rate and being a Paisley boy, this pleased me no end. It was only then that we discovered that they had given Craig two right boots for his snowboard and Susan swooped into action to make sure the girl from the ski centre hired replacement boots from the hire shop at the Nevis Range, free of charge.
With our hire equipment sorted, jackets, hats, gloves and salopettes donned, we headed to the gondola for the fifteen minute climb to the top with the grass slowly being replaced by snow that had fallen overnight.
After an apprehensive start, the boys took the bulls by the horn and we decided to head up the chairlift to the top of a blue run to see how they would get on in a kind of 'do or die' scenario. They didn't die!
We had been warned by the ski centre that skiing in Scotland would be very different from the skiing experience that we had in France last year, where on some days I had been able to ski without a jacket as it was so mild. Not so in Bonnie Scotland. It was frickin Freezing!
A few runs up and down the slope in sub-zero temparatures with me buzzing around all three of them to take video footage on my Action Cam strapped to my head was enough to piss off everyone into breaking for an early lunch around 1130. So we headed back to the restaurant for hot drinks and our packed lunch which Susan had made up the night before and tried to thaw out.
We headed back up the chairlift and completed several more runs before Susan and Craig had the good sense to call it quits. I persuaded Ryan that we should go for another couple of runs so that he could get more practice in and not at all because I wanted to go down the slope as fast as posssible!
Susan asked us to be back at the restaurant for 330 so that we could get the gondola back down to the coach in plenty of time for it's 430 departure. So off we went up the ski lift and we spotted a snowboarder digging a ramp into the fourth and fifth pillar of the chair lift which was even more of an incentive for me to go fast and jump it.
The weather had really turned now with a gale force wind driving the snow which had begun to fall heavily, horizontally into our faces. I suggested that we went down the other blue run and let Ryan lead the way so that I could film him. Visibility was down to about 20 feet and so when Ryan asked which way to go and I mentally tossed a coin we soon found ourselves descending an off-piste run.
Not exactly how I wanted to break him in!
We managed to survive and returned to the restaurant at 335 and discovered that Susan and Craig had already left and were on the way down in the gondola. Susan had already text me to tell me this and to ask me to pick up the rucksack that she had forgotten to lift, and I had assumed that she had taken. However, poor network coverage ensured that I would not get these texts until several hours later and only discovered it when we reached the coach where Susan was sitting with Craig as she asked "do you have the bag?".