Cairngorms Jan 2014 Lessons learned

Cairngorms in a weekend?  Totally possible.  We left Bridgend at 4pm on Friday and arrived in the ski car park at about 1am.  Sleep for 5 hours and then up at 6am, starting the walk in at 7am.  Up the Fiacaill Ridge, back down the goat track and then a bit more crampon work on the goat track.  We also had a good look at the Goat Track Gully.  The following day we got up at 6am, were at the car park by 7am, then up the route by 12:30, in the corrie by 1pm, at the car by 2pm and home by 11pm or so.

Generally both days went really well.  The avalanche forecast was good.  The weather, while it was a bit windy was reasonable.  Conditions were good, the snow was solid and the gullies were full.  We got up there safely, did two routes and got back home in time.  We definitely could have been faster on the second route.  Which was Goat Track gully.  We did it in two 40 or so meter pitches and one short 15 meter pitch.  All things considered we could have been a lot quicker on that route, but most of that was due to my descision to trail the ropes up the slope to the bottom of the route.

On the first day we went up the Fiacaill ridge.  Joe got pretty cold on the belay.  It was quite exposed to the wind and he got rather cold.  This meant that he struggled with seconding the route.

Lessons learned:

1 – Don’t trail ropes up snow slopes.  It doesn’t work.  The ropes are to heavy and prone to getting tangled.

2 – Belay jackets aren’t optional.

Now for a few photos from the weekend.

Joe at the start of the Fiacaill Ridge:

Blurry selfie for the win:

Joe standing under Aladdins butress.

Southern Cairngorms Winter Crags

Lochnagar – North East Corrie

Southern Sector – 950m, 1000m,North West facing –

Main Sector – 900m – North East and North West facing

Good mix of routes at most grades

Coire lochan Na Feadaige – 900m – North East facing

Two III and a V

The Stuic & Whacky Butress – 1000m – North East and North West

Good mix of I – V

The Dubh Loch Crags

Spittal of Glenmuick or Glen Clova approach

Creag An Dubh Loch – 730m NE to E

Not loads of winter routes.  Mainly rock routes.

Glen Clova

Winter Corrie – 650m NE

Good mix of routes

Corrie Fee – South Wall – 550 North East

Good mix of routes I – V

Corrie Fee – North Wall – 550 – South East facing

Small handful of routes III to IV

Craig Maud – 600m North East facing

Pinnacle Ridge II

Jaunjorge – 550m South facing

Not many routes at II – V



Northern Cairngorms Winter Crags

Northern Corries

Coire an t-Sneachda


Coire an Lochan


Loch Avon Basin

Stacan Dubha – 850m – North West facing

Carn Etchachan – 900m – North facing


Shelter Stone Crag – 850m – North East facing


Hell’s Lum Crag – 930m – East facing

Stag Rocks – 900m – South facing

Stac an Fharaidh – 900m – South East


Northern Lairig Ghru

Lurchers Crag – 780m West South West

Good selection of I – IV

Sron na Lairige – 850m East North East

I – IV

Sgoran Dubh Mor

Selection of butresses around 700-750m, mostly East, East South East.

Sgor Gaoith

Mix of butresses 750 – 850m mostly facing East South East.

Coire Garbhlach

Lower buttress 650m and Upper butress 750m


An Garbh Choire

Corrie of the Chokestone 1100m, North facing

Good mix of I – III/IV

Garbh Choire Mor – 1130m East


Garbh Choire Dhaidh – 1100m South


Coire Bhrochain – 1150m South

Good mix to I – IV

Northern Corries of Braeriach

Coire an Lochain – 1100m North

Southern Lairig Ghru

Beinn Bhrotain

Coire Cath nam Fionn – 950m North West facing

Good mix of I – III

Ben Macdui Massif

Coire Sputan Dearg – 1309 South East

Misc butresses I – IV

Creagan A Choire Etchachan – 850 – 900 East facing

Multiple butresses, lots of routes

Stob Coire Etchachan – 900m South South East


Lochside Crag – 1000m East South East

III and IV

Beinn A Bhuird

Approach from Braemar.

Coire Na Ciche – 1000m East

II to IV

Coire An Dubh Lochain – 950m North East

Mainly I – III and some VI/VII.

Coire Nan Clach – 1100m South facing

Not much

Garbh Choire – 950m North West to North

II to IV/V

Winter Climbing Videos

While my winter is over, for some lucky souls it’s not quite over.  So here a few good Scottish Winter videos to keep the psyche going:

Ines Papert, Ian Parnell and Audrey Gariepy – Winter Climbing Video

Petzl Scottish Ice Trip

Point Five Gully, Orion Face and Tower Ridge all three videos by Alan Kimber

Dave MacLeod climbing The Hurting

Andy Turner and Dave MacLeod on Minus Three Gully and them on Piggots Route and finally on the Great Chimney.

That little lot should keep you going for an hour or two.  They’re all really good videos, but the Petzl one is probably just about the best.  All are very well worth a look tho.  Enjoy!