Pros: Best in Scotland
Cons: Its in Scotland
Visited Cairngorm back in 2010 in the year of heavy snow.
The snow was as good as it had been for years. It was even possible to ski to the lower secondary carpark, which was handy considering the top one was full.
As skiing goes in Scotland Cairngorm is about the best it gets. The variety of albeit short slopes is good enough to keep even an advanced skier entertained for the day with the opportunity to ski several very fun gulleys and off-piste "powder", not that its really powder, runs, when the snow is there. Unfortunately Scottish ski areas in general, and Cairngorm is no exception to this, are pretty terrible if there is low snowfall. One of the biggest problems is the lack of on mountain snowmaking. It seems that the environmentalists are opposed to anyone having fun on the Scottish mountains and so snowmaking is not an option, nor is planting trees, which to be honest are a necessity to block the wind; but seeing as cairngorm has neither trees nor decent snowmaking it cannot be classed as a great ski area.
Ironically whenever it does dump down with snow its usually impossible to get to the ski area because it seems the owners don't own snowploughs capable of ploughing anything from the roads. So when its a massive pow day on the mountain you cant even get to it. Total bummer.
On the off chance that they have managed to keep the access road open the skiing and boarding to can be very superb, second to none when it comes to Scottish skiing. The key feature of Cairngorm is the funicular railway. Offering great vertical when the lower slopes are open, but also allowing the area to open the upper tbars when there is not enough snow for top to bottom skiing. the cafe at the top also has warming food for lunch, a necessity on a windy day.
Accommodation can be found in the fairly convenient town of Aviemore with its picturesque railway station and associated ski shops and services. And there are other useful amenities to be found with a keen eye as well.
If Cairngorm was situated in the European Alps it would probably get a score like two, however taking everything else into consideration, the fact that its in Scotland, its fairly good vertical drop, and its convenient location to Aviemore i give it three and a half stars.