Winter Climbs in the Cairngorms

The Cairngorms and Creag Meagaidh

By Allen Fyffe, Blair Fyffe

A practical guidebook to the best winter climbing routes in the Cairngorms, on Creag Meagaidh noted for its classic ice climbs, Lochnagar and Braeriach. Routes include a wide range of grades, lengths and styles, with stunning photographs, topos and route descriptions. Simple to exceptionally difficult routes. Scottish winter climbing at its best.



any time from November until April, and in exceptional years, as early as October or as late as June!


Aviemore and Strathspey in the north and Braemar and Deeside for the south and central areas; Creag Meagaidh is accessible Speyside and also from Fort William and the west.


a wide range of routes and difficulty from straightforward climbs to some of exceptional difficulty; from single pitches to over 250m in length and from easily accessible to extremely remote but requiring a solid mountaineering background.
Must See

Must See

main area covered is the Cairngorms, both north and south, granite peaks with extensive areas of high plateau and four peaks over 4,000 feet in high, offering superb winter climbing in a unique mountain environment.
15 Dec 2011
17.2 x 11.6 x 1.8cm
  • Overview

    In three separate sections, the northern and southern areas of the Cairngorms National Park as well as the peak of Creag Meagaidh to the west of the main range, this guidebook offers a selection of some of the best winter climbing routes to be found in this beautiful mountain environment in the heart of Scotland.

    The granite peaks of the Cairngorms have extensive areas of high plateau and four peaks over 4000ft, while Creag Meagaidh is noted for its classic ice climbs. The guide also covers the well-known routes on the magnificent cliffs of Lochnagar and Creag an Dubh Loch, as well as the more remote and serious climbs on the corries of Braeriach and Beinn a'Bhuird.

    The major climbing venues of the Cairngorms have some of the finest winter routes in Britain. Some are easily accessible, others extremely remote, but the climbing is always superb. From long, varied routes to short, technical tests and a range of pure ice climbs as well as mixed routes to rival any others in the country, the Cairngorms is an exceptional range with something to suit all winter climbers.

    • routes illustrated in 51 colour photo topos
    • includes a wide range of grades, lengths and styles, from straightforward to exceptionally difficult
    • all climbs require a solid mountaineering background
  • Contents

    Getting to the Cairngorms

    List of diagrams


    Routes and grades
    Route lengths
    Recommended routes
    Mountain rescue

    Cairngorms North

    Overview map

    Coire an t-Sneachda

    The Mess of Pottage
    Aladdin’s Buttress
    Fluted Buttress
    Fiacaill Buttress

    Coire an Lochain

    Number 1 Buttress
    Number 2 Buttress
    Number 3 Buttress
    Number 4 Buttress

    Lurcher’s Crag (Creag an Leth-Choin)

    Sron na Lairige

    Carn Etchachan

    The Lower Cliff, Main Face
    The Upper Cliff, Main Face
    The Gully Face

    Shelter Stone Crag

    Garbh Uisge Crag

    Hell’s Lum Crag

    Stag Rocks

    Left-hand Section
    Right-hand Section

    Stac an Fharaidh

    East Flank
    West Flank

    The Cairntoul/Braeriach Amphitheatre

    Angel’s Peak
    Corrie of the Chokestone Gully
    Garbh Choire Mor
    Garbh Choire Dhaidh
    Coire Bhrochain
    Coire an Lochain

    The Corries of Beinn a’Bhuird

    Coire na Ciche
    Coire an Dubh Lochain
    Garbh Choire

    Coire Sputan Dearg

    Grey Man’s Crag Area
    Snake Ridge Area
    The Central Buttresses

    Creagan a’Choire Etchachan

    Cairngorms South

    Overview map

    The Southern Sector

    Perseverance Wall
    The Cathedral

    The Northern Sector

    Central and Shadow Buttress Group
    Eagle Ridge and the Parallel Buttress Group
    Black Spout Pinnacle
    West Buttress Group

    Creag an Dubh Loch

    Eagles Rocks

    Mid-West Buttress
    Mid-East Buttress
    Broad Cairn Bluffs

    Glen Clova

    Winter Corrie
    Corrie Fee

    Creag Meagaidh

    Overview map

    Creag Meagaidh

    Girdle Traverse
    Bellevue Buttress
    Raeburn’s Gully Buttress
    Pinnacle Buttress
    The Post Face
    The Inner Corrie

    Appendix A  Index of Routes: Cairngorms North

    Appendix B  Index of Routes: Cairngorms South

    Appendix C  Index of Routes: Creag Meagaidh

  • Maps

    The climbing areas described in this guide are covered by a range of maps in the Ordnance Survey 1:50,000 Landranger series. The Lochnagar/Creag an Dubh Loch area is covered by Sheet 44, entitled Ballater & Glen Clova; the Cairngorm area is covered by Sheet 36, Grantown & Aviemore. Part of the area is also on Sheet 43, Braemar & Blair Atholl.

    The OS Explorer maps at 1:25,000 scale also cover the area. Use Sheet 403, Cairngorm & Aviemore, for the Central and Northern Cairngorms; Sheet 404, Braemar, Tomintoul, Glen Avon, for Beinn a Bhuird; and Sheet 388, Lochnagar, Glen Muick & Glen Clova, for Lochnagar, Creag an Dubh Loch and Glen Clova.
    Creag Meagaidh is covered by Landranger Sheet 34, Fort Augustus; Sheet 42, Glen Garry & Loch Rannoch; and Explorer Sheet 401, Loch Laggan & Creag Meagaidh. Harvey

    Maps produce the 1:25,000 Superwalker series maps. Three of these – The Cairngorms, Ben Avon and Lochnagar – cover most of the crags in this guidebook. Harvey also produce a series of 1:40,000 Mountain Maps, of which The Cairngorms and Lochnagar sheet covers most of the area.

    The ability to use a map and compass correctly is essential for all winter mountaineers and climbers.

    GPS systems can provide a useful back-up to more traditional map and compass skills, and it is recommended that they are used in this way, rather than as the sole navigational aid. Walking on the bearing obtained from a traditional compass will nearly always be steadier than following that from its satellite-driven GPS cousin. The location of the foot of some routes is given by a bearing from a prominent feature for some crags to aid their location in poor visibility.

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Allen Fyffe

Allen Fyffe has been an active mountaineer for over 35 years. During much of that time he has been an instructor and guide, and is now the Executive Secretary of the Scottish Mountain Leader Training Board. He has been involved in every aspect of mountaineering and climbing in Scotland, and has doe more than 200 new routes in both summer and winter. He has also made numerous inmortant ascents in the Alps and Himalayas, including expeditions to Dhaulaghiri IV, Everest , Meru and Broad Peak.

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Blair Fyffe

Blair Fyffe grew up close to Aviemore in the shadow of the Northern Cairngorms, and from a young age has taken in interest in walking and climbing in these hills, particularly during the winter months. He has rock climbed extensively throughout Britain and mainland Europe to a high standard (E7 and French 8b). In winter he has made numerous first ascents and early repeats. Out with Britain he has climbed new winter routes in the Lofoten Islands of artic Norway and new alpine routes in the Tien Shan mountains of Krygahstan. He has also climbed in the European Alps and on the big walls of Yosemite Valley. He now works as a forecaster for the Scottish Avalanche information service during the winter months. During the summer he has done a variety of jobs, including being a outdoor instructor, a countryside ranger and a research associate for Edinburgh University.

View Articles and Books by Blair Fyffe