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Rock Climbing in the Cairngorms

Rock Climbing in the Cairngorms


Postby past my sell by date » Fri Nov 17, 2017 7:19 pm

Munros included on this walk: Ben Macdui, Derry Cairngorm

Date walked: 10/10/1993

Time taken: 33 hours

Distance: 38 km

Ascent: 1950m

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It had been very mild in the Lake district that October - we had sweltered in Tee shirts on Esk Hause in the late afternoon - but we always liked going to Scotland and The Leader fancied climbing on Coire Sputan Dearg as it had a number of classic easy routes that could be done in boots. I was less certain, but iin those days you didn't argue : if The Leader said you were going rock-climbing in the Cairngorms, you went rock-climbing in the Cairngorms!
We drove up on Friday afternnon, ate in Braemar and camped in my "umbrella" tent in the woods by the Linn of Dee - though the continuous roaring of the stags through the night didn't allow much sleep
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Camp at the Linn
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Breakfast
It was pretty cold, but we both had Buffalo shirts and salopettes, so that wasn't really a problem
"Isn't there a bit too much snow? " I asked.
"No it's OK" said The Leader " you can brush the snow off the ledges" :crazy: a remark he has never really managed to live down !
Norm. and I stiill have visions of a magic brush - but we've never managed to find a shop that stocks one :lol: :lol: :lol:
Image

My tent was covered in condensation so we slung it in the boot and taking The Leaders lighter one set off with heavily loaded sacks along the track to Derry Lodge and beyond into Glen Luibeg, where we pitched camp. The weather was cold but mainly clear and the wind was quite bearable - ideal really. The Leader also had a set of these "new fangled" walking poles that he'd acquired in the Alps. I bought a set a short time after and endured the endless " have you lost your skis?" quips for years until they became standard.
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Equipped for all eventualities The Leader sets off down the track to Derry Lodge.
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NIce views through the Scots Pines
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The camp in Glen Luibeg
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Zoomed view up Coire Sputan Dearg

It didn't look like there would be time for any climbing today so we decided to walk up Derry Cairngorm which was just up to our right (with much lighter sacks :D )

Derry Cairngorm
The going was quite easyy to start with, but climbing the endless fields of rounded snow-covered boulders higher up was slow going - If there was a path we didn't find it . Here are the photos ( I think) in the order they were taken
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Looking up the Alt Carn a Mhaim towards Macdui
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Looking East across the broad Southern flank of the hill
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two views across to Sron Riach above Lochan Uaine
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Frozen stream
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view back South down the broad ridge
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The Leader makes an adjustment - The Devils Point and Cairn Toul behind
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Looking up to point 1108 beyond our hill
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North West again across the Lairig Ghru - Angel's Peak and Braeriach on the R
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Summit
We continued North for a bit then circled down and Left into the coire and returned to the tent. The Leader had brought some dried meals in bags into which you poured boling water to create a brown sludge: it was pretty tasteless (they're better now) but no doubt contained all the nutrients we needed for the day ahead :lol:

Ben Macdui
The day dawned fine and clear, but the Leader had reluctantly decided that perhaps there was a tad too much snow for climbing :lol: , so the only thing to do was to walk up Macdui
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Sunrise on Sron Riach and Coire Sputan Dearg
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A bit later from inside the tent
So after breakfast we again left all the ropes and gear in the tent and took the path up and over Sron Riach
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Across the Lairig Ghru again
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Up R to the rocks we were supposed to be climbing on :lol: :lol: :lol:
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On the summit plateau - The Devil's Point, Cairn Toul, Angel's Peak and Braeriach
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resting below the summit cairn
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A view looking East I think near the summit

We returned the same way, packed up the camp and all the gear, trudged back to the Linn and drove home.
We hadn't achieved what we set out to do, but I think even The Leader agreed it had been a good "mountaineering weekend

Footnote
The Leader has taught me everything I know about climbing and taken me up routes I could only ever have dreamed of. Without hm I would never had got to the alps and climbed the Swiss mountains. I hold him in the highest esteem - even though he can occasionally go a little OTT :lol:
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Last edited by past my sell by date on Mon Jul 23, 2018 1:14 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Rock Climbing in the Cairngorms

Postby Mal Grey » Fri Nov 17, 2017 11:24 pm

Great looking few days!
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Re: Rock Climbing in the Cairngorms

Postby Alteknacker » Sat Nov 18, 2017 1:23 am

Nice one! Love to see these older pics. An you truly had excellent weather for wandering around these hills.

The pics indicate a goodly quantity of snow for the first third of October, and it looks like it must have been a bit nippy on the hills. You must have had good bags too!!
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Re: Rock Climbing in the Cairngorms

Postby gaffr » Sat Nov 18, 2017 11:23 am

You just have to make the best of things when faced with big change in the weather conditions. I have found Sron Riach, my way back to the North, with a big overnight dump of snow while camped near Derry Lodge....and that was in early June. :)
That magic brush of yours would appear to do more than sweep away snow? :)
The only image that I have taken of the Coire Sputan Dearg crags has been made digital from the old diapositive.
319 005 - Copy (640x436).jpg
Coire Sputan Dearg.

Reaching these classic routes here was after a long walk-in from Glenmore and back. There are indeed several grand ridges among these crags....must have enjoyed it on these South facing crags since more than one visit was made. :)
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Re: Rock Climbing in the Cairngorms

Postby dav2930 » Sun Nov 19, 2017 10:49 pm

past my sell by date wrote:"Isn't there a bit too much snow? " I asked.
"No it's OK" said The Leader " you can brush the snow off the ledges" :crazy: a remark he has never really managed to live down !

I guess we've all made over-optimistic judgements at one time or another, but I must say that takes it to a whole new level :lol:
I suppose being OTT at times is just an overspill of the strong motivation required to succeed with mountaineering objectives.
Looked a great trip all the same, yielding some fine photos :)
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Re: Rock Climbing in the Cairngorms

Postby jmarkb » Mon Nov 20, 2017 1:23 pm

Good story!

dav2930 wrote:I guess we've all made over-optimistic judgements at one time or another, but I must say that takes it to a whole new level


Yes, I also have a climbing partner who is prone to bouts of wild optimism, but nothing like that!

I have actually brushed snow off a rock climb before (Milestone Buttress in November), but it was just the merest dusting of a few flakes, invisible from below! I've also have to climb around patches of water ice on Raeburn's Arete on the Ben in September after a chilly night: I had not realised that the route gets no sun at all at that time of year. :roll:
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Re: Rock Climbing in the Cairngorms

Postby past my sell by date » Mon Nov 20, 2017 1:37 pm

dav2930 wrote:
past my sell by date wrote:"Isn't there a bit too much snow? " I asked.
"No it's OK" said The Leader " you can brush the snow off the ledges" :crazy: a remark he has never really managed to live down !

I guess we've all made over-optimistic judgements at one time or another, but I must say that takes it to a whole new level :lol:
I suppose being OTT at times is just an overspill of the strong motivation required to succeed with mountaineering objectives.
Looked a great trip all the same, yielding some fine photos :)

Hi dav2930 and Jmarkb
The Leader had a strong sense of self-preservation. He Climbed Changabang in the Himalya, but retreated (twice I think) from the West Face of the Dru in bad weather. Unfortunately he severely damaged one hand in a non-climbing accident :( - which is why he ended up climbing with a very average climber like me :lol: And he's still 2-3 grades better than me :)
He is however subject to occasional bouts of overoptimism as in this story. In another he wanted to take Norm. and I to the alps and thought the Frendo Spur a suitable starter - OOPs TD- I think :lol: :lol: :lol:
Last edited by past my sell by date on Mon Nov 20, 2017 3:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Rock Climbing in the Cairngorms

Postby past my sell by date » Mon Nov 20, 2017 1:48 pm

Alteknacker wrote:Nice one! Love to see these older pics. An you truly had excellent weather for wandering around these hills.

The pics indicate a goodly quantity of snow for the first third of October, and it looks like it must have been a bit nippy on the hills. You must have had good bags too!!

Hi Alteknacker
I have had all my old slldes (ca. 600) scanned. They all need a lot of photoshopping but some have come out quite well - like these - others are pretty hopeless - and no particular pattern. So I've got a few more old trips to write up.
I'm not sure of the exact date but with the stags roaring it might have been a few days later. We were certainly lucky with the wind which can be lethal in the Cairngorm winter.
Re bags - I guess I had an old "Icelandic Special" , but Buffalo gear is so warm I think almost anything would have done. :)

Hi Gaffr
Thanks for the extra pic of Sputan Coire Dearg. I'm afraid I never got there to climb - I've done a few easy winter routes in the Northern corries and a couple of munros on Ski touring trips, but I've never Summer climbed anywhere in the Cairngorms - There's so much good and convenient rock-climbing in the Lakes, that we only ever went to the Ben. I've always wanted to do Squareface and Mitre ridge but these are a very long way from any road. :(
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Re: Rock Climbing in the Cairngorms

Postby Scottk » Mon Nov 20, 2017 3:39 pm

I would love to do Squareface. It looks brilliant but you definitely need to have a couple more routes planned to make it worthwhile.
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Re: Rock Climbing in the Cairngorms

Postby gaffr » Mon Nov 20, 2017 5:25 pm

Hello,
Classic not too hard routes on the granite in most of the Cairngorm coires with of course the usual longish walk to reach them. :)
Our trip to the Ben a Bhuird routes was via the Saddle with a camp on Bhuird to get to the Cumming Crofton route and the delectable Squareface and the next day to the Coire with the lochan for Polypody grooves....weather change then down for a night in Faindoran Bothy and then over Bynach Mor to get back to Glenmore. All part of a weekend trip. :)
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