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Monday, 28 July 2014

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Cumbrian ski club celebrates best season ever after 15ft snowfall

A ski club is set for its best-ever season after record numbers made the most of a white-out.

Lake District snow photo
Members of the Lake District Ski Club dig out the tow lift at Raise

More than 100 skiers turned out on Raise, next to Helvellyn, at the weekend after 15ft of snow fell.

Around 60 volunteers helped dig out the 360m button tow lift, which is operated by the Lake District Ski Club, after it was buried by the heavy snowfall.

An avalanche warning had also been issued for the surrounding area.

But the huge team effort saw the tow cleared and back in action by Sunday afternoon, allowing record numbers of skiers to enjoy the conditions on Raise.

Ski club member Gordie Oliver explained: “It really was a major effort to dig the tow out on Sunday morning but we managed to get enough of it out by lunchtime.

“Then we had around 100 skiers out which was probably a record day for us. It was great – the word spread on social media which really helped.

“The tow has been in operation since 1953 and has run very successfully since then, but a lot of people even in Keswick don’t know it’s there.”

The ski club is now looking forward to a bumper season thanks to the recent weather conditions, according to Mr Oliver.

He said: “This winter has seen a slow start because we normally start skiing in November and the season runs sporadically until Christmas when winter properly arrives.

“Last year we operated for more than 60 days, which is a lot for a volunteer set-up like ours.

“But this year, winter wise, has been very slow and the snow has gradually built up on the fells. Some big heavy storms have come through and Raise has managed to stay below freezing when it has mattered.

“Now we have a base which has set very solid and is a nice, hard icy layer.

“We have also had the strong winds blowing snow in so unless we get a freakish mild spell with a lot of rain we should see skiing here possibly into June.

“Everything is set up for a great season and we have never run into June before – we normally only run into mid April with the tow.”

The ski tow at Raise was not in operation yesterday because of poor weather, Mr Oliver added.

It comes as forecasters predict further heavy snowfall on higher ground in the Lake District later in the week.

Temperatures on Helvellyn are expected to plummet to -4C on Thursday.

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