The Cairngorms are among the coldest and wildest places in Britain with some of the best rock and winter climbing at its heart. You can actually see the Northern Corries from Aviemore. Take a journey in to the granite cathedrals of the Cairngorms to experience the best and the worst of the weather that can be found in the Highlands of Scotland.
The ice and snow conditions can change daily. It can change from powdery soft snow to slush to neve in a matter of days. That’s what makes coming here such a challenge; you are entirely at the mercy of the weather, whatever it decides to do.
Coire an t-Sneachda is one of the most popular areas for winter climbing in Britain, (the Gaelic name means Hollow of the Snows). This coire is situated west of the Coire Cas car park and will take around 1 hour to walk in. Further West is Coire an Lochain (Hollow of the Small Lakes) which also contains some superb rock and winter climbs.
Along with Northern Corries, other climbing areas such as Hell’s Lum, Stag Rocks, Stac an Fharaidh, Shelter Stone crag, Coire Sputan Dearg & Creagan Coire Etchachan, all require a longer walk in. Here you can experience the Arctic environment that’s gripped these mountains for thousands of years.
As always in the mountains, the weather conditions can be unpredictable and can change very quickly. Daily weather forecasts are available from the CairnGorm Mountain Ranger Base along with the Avalanche forecast provided by Scottish Avalanche Information Service. You must ensure that you have all the correct equipment such as climbing gear, map & compass, ice axe & crampons, plenty of food plus extra and suitable clothing for foul weather at any time of year.
The outdoor retailers in the area have a good stock of climbing and waterproof kit, and you can make last minute purchases at the CairnGorm Mountain Shop near the car park. If it’s your first time in the Cairngorms, it’s probably a good idea to do a bit of studying beforehand. You can always call in to the CairnGorm Mountain Ranger Base to see what’s in condition and pass on your experiences to the Rangers so they can pass it onto others.
If climbing is an activity you would like to try, there are many companies and organisations in the local area that can offer instruction in all levels of your abilities.