Outdoor Experiences – Chris Tiso Skiing In The Cairngorms

By Chris Tiso on 25 Apr 14 at 16:24

chris tsio skiingA week ago we were lucky enough to enjoy a few days skiing in the Alps on surprisingly good snow under blue skies on all but one day. Good Friday and yet another school holiday provided a spontaneous opportunity to get out for one last slide of the season. So with the kid’s skies freshly serviced by Blues master technician, Stuart, we headed North on Thursday evening in anticipation of an early start on Friday. I had spent the previous week on a pair of Salomon ENDURO XT 800 which I found excellent – stiff, stable at speed and with loads of grip, the only downside was that they are heavy.

This made chopping through sugary snow with tired legs at the end of the day hard work so I decided to try out a lighter alternative which wouldn’t compromise pace and enjoyment. Following consultation with the Blues gurus at Tiso Perth Outdoor Experience I found myself with a set of lurid yellow Black Crows and a personal assurance I would thoroughly enjoy myself. First impressions were good – they felt fully half the weight of the Salomons.

The car park was surprisingly quiet at 9am the following morning and having purchased our passes on our way up from the hotel (top tip – most hotels in the area sell ski passes so it can save time on queuing) we avoided the line at the desk and proceeded directly to the train. The next four hours were spent under a cloudless sky on piste which was predictably limited but of impressive quality – credit is due to the team at Cairngorm Mountain who are doing a great job of pisting what is left of the snow. The Black Crows (Orb Freebird) felt pretty lively at first on snow which had not yet felt the heat of the sun but came in to their own as the day warmed up. As I got used to them I quickly fell in love – they are a fast and fun ski but (in my personal opinion) probably best suited to fresh snow and off piste.

The kids meanwhile were having a great time – this was only the second time on snow for my partner’s children but they quickly found a groove with my two and all four skied happily together with us through lunch (another benefit of a stop at the hotel – the breakfast!) when we had the slopes to ourselves. When we finally stopped we elected to sit outside and enjoy the view with our sandwiches and watch the snowboarders demonstrating their skill and bravery in the snow park.

chris tiso kids skiing

At about 3pm we decided to call it a day. Sadly it will be our last outing this season but Cairngorm Mountain is committed to keeping the hill open for as long as there is snow so if you are planning a last trip don’t forget your Outdoor Experience card qualifies you for 10% off all Blues product including what’s in the Sale which is still on. Tradition and cries for juice from the back necessitated a stop at the Old Bridge Inn by Aviemore on the way home. We sat in the beer garden with Mountain Bikers and together watched kayakers paddling past down the river – who says you need to go to the West Coast of the US to do all three in one day? As I so often do on such occasions I reminded myself how lucky we are to have all this on our doorstep.

With longer and hopefully warmer days to come my attention and energy is turning once again to biking. My trusty Trek Madone 5.9 has just been serviced by the boys at Alpine Bikes on Hamilton Place, Edinburgh and will be coming out this week. I did the Etape Calendonia last year which was my first closed road event and loved it. This year I have entered the Tour of the Borders (also closed road) which takes place in August so training will commence soon, time to dig out the chamois cream…

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  • Sara Reed

    Sounds great Chris, but the experience you had buying ski gear is different to ours, must help if you’re the CEO! Firstly, important to say that the staff at Blues in Edinburgh are fantastic and so helpful/knowledgable. They are the main reason we only shop there for our ski kit. But when we went in December to buy junior boots, poles and a few things for kids christmas presents and our new year ski trip, it was very frustrating. The stock was just so poor – only one size in each style in store – and any orders wouldn’t arrive in time for Christmas. In the end we had to compromise and choose our second or third choice and buy poles elsewhere. Whilst they were very professional I’m sure the staff shared our frustration. Our family are keen skiers and have been buying boots, clothes and skis in Blues since it was a stand alone shop. We’re keen to continue being customers rather than going to an online store, but would be great if you can sort out the stock issue before next season. Here’s hoping!

    • Ross Sibbit

      Dear Sara,

      Thank you for your honest and open comment in which you shared your feedback on your experience in our Edinburgh store this season. I will ensure that your positive comments on the staff are shared with the team.

      Like most businesses, we continue to strive to improve our product range and we don’t always get it right! We are currently doing a complete season review in order to identify where we feel we could improve, so your comment could not have arrived at a better time. This season we did have a number of challenges in ensuring sufficient stock in certain sizes of junior ski boots throughout the season. Sadly, we were unable to ensure a consistent supply of product with specific sizes of boots in December, however were able to ‘top up’ our order at the start of January to cover any further disappointment. For the next season we are adapting our orders accordingly, to ensure that we will be able to fulfil our customers’ requirements early in the season in December. With regards to ski poles, our range this year was much larger with more stock depth, however this will also be part of our full range review and I will ensure that this issue is reassessed accordingly.

      Once again, let me sincerely thank you for taking the time to raise your concerns. As a long-standing Blues customer, it is important to us that we re-assure you that we are always keen to listen and learn from our customers’ experiences in our stores.

      Kind Regards

      Ross Sibbit

  • Sara reed

    Thanks very much for your reply Ross, great to hear that you are listening to customers, accepting some constructive criticism (!) and trying to address the issues we experienced. It was also helpful for me to understand what went wrong. We are massive fans of Tiso and Blues and wish you continued success.