Fall Line hits up The Mighty Coe Winter Sessions

skier takes air, grabbing skis, launching off a big rock

It has been a low tide season in Scotland with turbulent weather and temperatures. Thankfully, the snow gods delivered just in time to allow The Mighty Coe Winter Sessions, supported by The North Face, to go ahead.

Following on from The Mighty Coe in 2022, the Winter Sessions were designed to play to Scotland’s strengths and deliver snowsport education, adventure and entertainment – all in one day. 

two ski tourers, skis on packs, head uphill, the snowless valley very Scottish in colour and topography below

With on-snow workshops, team riders shredding, and new outerwear from The North Face to try out, there was something for everyone. Not to mention the classic weekend vibes of Glencoe Mountain Resort.

The evening event was hosted at The Highland Cinema, where the lives of athletes were unpacked on stage and on the big screen.

We were also witness to possibly the biggest gear toss seen in the UK – swag aplenty, everyone seemed to be leaving with a new t-shirt, pair of gloves or drinkware.  

Workshops on the mountain were hosted by mountain guides and local instructors. Attendees were able to discover the freedom of ski touring, sharpen up their avalanche awareness skills and hone their steep skiing techniques in the resort.  

Andy Townsend, IFMGA and host of the ski touring intro workshop, describes why Glencoe Mountain is a must-visit destination: “Well, it’s the shape of the mountain. Meall a’Bhuiridh stands up from the valley floor and it’s just huge, steep, and exciting. It has every type of terrain, from easy slopes, grassy runs and rocky boulder fields you have to navigate your way through, to really steep, exciting Alpine-style faces. It is the one. It’s the all-mountain skiing venue.’’  

a group of tourers in the snowy mountains of Scotland

Andy and fellow guides spread out across the mountain sharing a lifetime of knowledge on how to make the most of the Scottish conditions and stay safe. Attendees of all abilities travelled from across the UK to soak it all in.

One of the goals of the event is to increase access to the mountains to a wider audience.

Support from The North Face made it possible to subsidise these workshops, removing the cost barrier to accessing crucial skills and knowledge of backcountry skiing and snowboarding.  

three skiers boot up a steep hill, skis on packs, next to a rock band

While the workshops were underway, The North Face Development Athletes Jordan Ray and Matt Pavitt spent the day exploring the mountain and Glencoe’s famous terrain. Bringing top-level athletes to the mountain allows everyone to see just what can be done in Scotland, even on a poor snow year.  

Jordan is the current European Freeride Junior Tour Champion and was visiting Glencoe for his first time. Although the lower runs were thin, Matt, who is a Scottish-based climber and skier, led Jordan over to find the goods on The Fly Paper,  Scotland’s (if not Europe’s) steepest resort run.

“It’s good fun here, zigzagging through rocks and picking lines quickly. The face we were on was really good. I could lap that all day,’’ says Jordan.  

Skier about to launch off a rocky drop

With tired legs, attendees headed to The Highland Cinema in Fort William for an evening of inspiration, a few beers and pizza to refuel.

On stage, we heard about the exploits of Matt Pavvit and his Scottish winter climbing missions. Most recently, he completed a FKT (fastest known time) on the Cuillin Ridge, plus returned a few weeks later with fellow The North Face Athlete Fay Manners to complete both .5 Gully on Ben Nevis and The Cuillin (again). Each of these in their own right would be a lifetime achievement for many climbers, let alone doing both back-to-back in 24 hours.  

large wet snowflakes come down over group in Gore-Tex jackets by tent outside a ski centre

On the skis side of things, Jordan described how The North Face development program allows him to progress in his skiing and mountain skills, and assist him on his journey of getting onto the Freeride World Tour; as European Junior Champion, he is certainly laying some good foundations.

With freeride developing fast, and the acquisition of The Freeride World Tour by FIS, it is likely to be in the Olympics soon. If it does go this way, Team GB will have a strong side with Jordan on board.  

In front of cinema screen, two are in discussion/interview

On the big screen, the crowd were treated to The North Face films exploring identity, struggle and challenge in the mountains. The Blondes, an all-female ski crew, took us on their journey of formation; Giant Beasts, Tiny People showcased Mary Rand and Taylor Godber tackling Alaskan big mountain lines; and Descendance follows freeskier Dennis Ranalter on a journey of self-exploration, from reflections on his childhood in Austria to a reconnection with his heritage in Ghana. 

There really was something for everyone over The Mighty Coe weekend, from diehard shredders to those taking their tentative first steps into the backcountry.

If you’re keen to join in the action, or simply need an excuse to go and explore Glencoe, then keep an eye out for next year’s Mighty Coe Winter Sessions event.  

downloading on a Scottish chairlift, above a very Scottish landscape of red and brown valley, dotted with water