Forums Trip Reports A Scottish Season and Van Life So Far
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    Kahti Ryan
    48 Posts

    After failing to get my Canada Visa for the winter I decided to stay in Scotland for one more year, but I wanted to work less and get out more, so the obvious solution was to convert a van and live in it. I bought a 2003 Ford Jumbo Transit and spent most of December turning it into a cosy chalet on wheels:



    The full build is detailed on my blog:

    I parked up in Aviemore and worked out a good deal chef-ing 3 long days a week and having the rest of the time off.

    Early season in Scotland is usually pretty grim for snowboarding, with high winds and unstable or icy conditions. We did get a few dumps low enough down to play about on the hill above town while the mountains were unavailable though (skip the first 1:30 if you don’t wanna see the inside of the van and get straight to the snow):

    Apart from that it’s really climbing season until march, but touring in definitely gets you on the ice quicker!

    This does however mean climbing in snowboard boots, a good test for the fitwells:

    It also means no more long walkouts!

    By mid February the snow had stabilised somewhat, but constant storms had meant a lot had been stripped away. We managed to get some “dust on heather” action though and took some long walks to scope out lines for later on…

    The start of March saw a nice dump of fresh snow, but combined with gale force winds the snowpack took awhile to stabilise. Nevertheless we went on some long tours, sticking to low angled terrain whilst looking at all the stuff we would ride once the time was right:

    A week later the snow was finally stabilising and the sun was out. We headed into Scotland’s “Amphitheatre of Steep Skiing” – Coire an t-Sneachda – For some powdery fun.

    After a warmup run into the Coire, we climbed the classic Alladin’s Couloir (the dog legged gulley about a third in from the right on the above photo, a grade I winter climb). On the way up I was feeling pretty nervous, my first steep line this year. After having a pretty scary fall in Iceland two years ago I had been slowly trying to build up the confidence to ride steep stuff again, but always freaking out at the top and backing down. Today was as good as the conditions could get. Would I do it?

    We topped out and I looked down the run. None of the fear and doubt I had been feeling last season was there. Just excitement for the descent!

    I skinned back out filled with the happiness that I finally had my balls back! It was on now!

    The following weeks saw some super mild weather where we lost a lot of snow. Pristine white faces melted away to heather, Powder turned to Corn, Jackets and shirts came off!

    This didn’t deter us at all and we got some lovely steep lines combined with long tours in the sun :

    Towards the end of the month it was time for Upbattle festival. It’s so cool having an event like this to bring our small Scottish split community together. I managed to beat my last years time and the competition to take home 1st place in the Derby race.

    Almost every splitboarder in Scotland before the race…

    Le Mans start running to your gear and then splitting it before you start to skin…

    Dying near the top of the route…

    Hauling ass over the finish line after a shit scary race back down, trying to gun it with zero visibility in the clouds…

    Medals and glory!

    The rest of the weekend was spent hanging out in the sun and demoing boards. A great time and with all proceeds going to the local mountain rescue team Johnny and Louise Barr really are the most awesome people for organising the festival!

    Since then it’s been pretty horrible, warm weather and rain has stripped a lot of snow and family emergencies have kept me off the hill, but the sun is finally out today for the first time in a week, the weather is getting colder again and there’s still a bunch of lines I want to ride! Part two will definitely feature tight corn gullies, disgustingly long walk ins and probably a fair amount of riding on heather…

    303 Posts

    Great TR! Your van is badass, and your blog has been bookmarked for future reference. Thanks.

    Kahti Ryan
    48 Posts

    Thanks Permnation!
    I’ll try and get round to updating it with some snow photos and more build pics sometime soon. Not that i’ve really done much more, too busy out having fun and its liveable as is. Still need to add some shelves and build some kind of toilet setup, and hoping to get a solar panel on the roof, but that will probably wait until the snow is gone!
    Long term my plans are to work and climb here in Scotland over the summer then set off around Europe after that, so I’ll be posting my adventures on the blog as I travel…

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