Freeriding, terrain parks and pistes
With no trees or bowls, thrills can be very limited on Cairngorm mountain. But if you go with the attitude that some snow is better than no snow, then, if cover is good, you can often avoid the crowds and get some fresh tracks and natural kickers if you head up the Funicular and over Coire na Ciste. Alternatively, the Fiacaill Ridge can offer a brief thrill if cover is good and winds are low.
Freestylers who like to go big off natural hits, forget it. However, if you dont mind queing, there is the VANs terrain park in the Ptarmigan bowl with reasonable sized kickers and a variety of rails and boxes for all abilities. When snow permits there is also a half pipe which is used for local competitions. If the wait gets too much on the Ptarmigan T-bar, you can sometimes find some natural hits down the Cas or Fiacaill Ridge.
Alpine paradise it is not. Keen carvers will not exactly feel thigh burn cruising the slopes here. If the winds are high (and they often are) runs can be scoured and icy, but if there has been some fresh snow and cover is good, the ride from top to bottom will take about 10 (enjoyable) minutes out of your day. Offers good practice for negotiating varied surface conditions!
With the introduction of the Funicular railway beginners can now ride from top to bottom (conditions permitting) without having to master a drag lift. The Ptarmigan does offer a wide space with a forgiving gradient and the Ptarmigan and Coire na Ciste T-bar's are a good starting point to master the drag lifts - but be prepared to queue! However, if winds are high and surface conditions scoured then be reassured by the fact that if you can learn to ride here, you can ride just about anything!READ NEXT: Village life, accommodation & nightlife