/ Recommend me a Grade I route in Cairngorm

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RedFive on 07 Feb 2013

Party of 4 heading up to Aviemore weekend of 15th with fairly minimal winter experience. Hopefully 2 days walking before the 300 mile drive home.

We have done various winter walks in the Lakes and Number 4 gully on Nevis last year on bullet hard neve (solo'd). We have one walking axe each and Grivel G12's plus harnesses and summer climbing rack.

Depending on snow / avalanche conditions between now and then I'm looking for a recommendation of which Grade I route in Sneachda or Coire an Lochan.

We didn't rope up for Number 4 last year but one of our party has said if we do something like that this year she would like to pitch it......so a grade I with good gear - or is that asking too much?

We have summer scrambled Fiacaill Ridge - is it much of a step up in winter condtions?

Or should we just stick to Goat Track and a stomp across to Big Mac for a good day out?

Appreciate you don't know our skill level, and conditions make routes different day to day, but really just after a better idea of the 'novice' routes from people well frequented with the area. A poor chap was killed on Alladins Mirror last month so guessing that's not one to aim for as a first-timer?

mcdweeb - on 07 Feb 2013
In reply to DefenderKen: Aladdin's Couloir (assuming the avalanche risk is low on N facing slopes) is a good grade 1 plod, been skied plenty of times (search youtube) and I've descended it loads of times which can be a bit distracting for anyone coming up and pitching it!!
The Fiacaill ridge is an excellent winter route however and the difficulties and exposure can be varied according to taste when you get on it, it'll feel like a proper day out. Most of the tricky bits are avoidable and there shouldn't be any loose stuff. Its quite a good place to try and practice climbing and moving together roped up.
Liam Brown - on 07 Feb 2013
In reply to mcdweeb:

Low in that aspect at the moment. Check again tomorrow.
Michael Gordon - on 07 Feb 2013
In reply to DefenderKen:
> A poor chap was killed on Alladins Mirror last month so guessing that's not one to aim for as a first-timer?

He was soloing and didn't have a helmet on. Not passing any judgement on that but if you're roping up you should be safer. It gets climbed all the time and is fine in good conditions.
Dave Kerr - on 07 Feb 2013
In reply to DefenderKen:

If you want to go further afield Castlegates Gully is very scenic and shouldn't require a rope.

Milesy - on 07 Feb 2013
Jacob's Ladder could be a good choice as well depending on the top out. Could also do point five gully next to the goat track for something a bit less steep.
Snoweider - on 07 Feb 2013
In reply to Michael Gordon:
Protection can be hard to find on Aladdins Mirror so may not be the best for a first timer.
Alpenglow - on 07 Feb 2013
In reply to Michael Gordon: Has anyone got any more info on the guy who died on Aladdin's Mirror?

iksander on 07 Feb 2013
In reply to blackreaver: some info here http://tinyurl.com/b674puo
Michael Gordon - on 07 Feb 2013
Happy Haggis - on 07 Feb 2013
In reply to blackreaver: Jack was an experienced climber and mountaineer who had a tragic and unfortunate accident. I certainly don't want to open any speculative debate on helmets/no helmets/rope/no rope, but what I will say is that the consequences of slipping on Aladdin's Mirror are serious and as noted by Snoweider protection to rope up is minimal/diffuclt to find. Jacob's Ladder is a great route, but the SMC guidebook notes it as being the hardest Grade I in Coire an T-Sneachda and the top out can be very steep when it is banked up (I was grateful for 2 axes last time, and that was in good snow conditions - I wouldn't want to be committed on it in marginal snow). Fiacaill Ridge is great - if you keep to the right of the main ridge as you ascend you will be on Grade I mountaineering territory with opportunities to place protection/move together if required. Of course all of these suggestions come with the caveat that it is assumed you know how to use your axe to arrest a fall and assess conditions (e.g. avalanche risks). Other ideas for day trips in the area which are super winter days out without being on graded terrain are Bynack More, Ben Macdui and a loop around Coire an Lochain and Coire an T-Sneachda. Have fun!
RedFive on 08 Feb 2013
Some great advice, thanks.....just what I'm looking for. The guide book (cicerone) just doesn't give this sort of real world info.

Aladdins Couloir seems favourite for our skill level but will research the rest.

Thanks again.


Caralynh - on 08 Feb 2013
In reply to DefenderKen:

My first trip into the Corries was brilliant. Soloed Fiacaill Ridge, went on to Ben Macdui, and returned back over Cairngorm. Great day out if conditions are good.
MarkDerby on 08 Feb 2013
Ken, me and my son pitched Aladdin's Couloir one glorious day last Feb. Hard snow but not much of it so the bit before the dog leg was solid ice. My son fancied placing an ice screw so he led it and got two in. Good place to give that a go as the angle is quite gentle. After that we moved together and really enjoyed it. Our second Scottish grade 1 by ourselves and we both felt quite comfortable and in control. I'd certainly recommend it. When it banks out I think the ice gets covered so it would be easier. Hope you have a good trip! We'll be up there again at at half term week after next. Can't wait!

RedFive on 18 Feb 2013
In reply to Ken Shewry:

Thanks again for all the help.

Just back from a cracking weekend in Aviemore. We had a great day on Fiacaill Ridge and got to scratch up the new Fly's I invested in before going.

Was very busy with everybody avoiding the gullies, we had to wait about half an hour before the crux, but had a good banter with some guys from Bristol so no harm. Walked out in blue sky and sun.

We had a look at Alladins from above and watched some guys skiing down but decided the lower apron looked too loaded and with the weak hidden layer decided to leave it for the next trip.

I've posted a pic from the ridge showing conditions, you can see it on my profile.


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