1998 Scotish Highlands

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This was a short, fast, but intense trip to the Northern Corries in the Highlands of Scotland. It was a 9-10 hour train ride from where I was in Cambridge, but I arrived after a day of fresh snowfall. This was good news. because up till then, it had been warm, and everyone was just rock climbing. I managed to squeeze in two days of climbing, and got to experience "full conditions". I went to the Northern Corries, mostly just cause it was in condition this time of the year. But I discovered to my plesant suprise, it's the "Smith Rocks" of Scotish Winter climbing.

Aviemore is a small ski-town in the Highlands, and is close to the trailheads for the Northern Corries. If anyone wants to know a great B&B walking distance from the train station. and near the trailheads, email me for the info. I used the Corie Cas trailhead at the small ski area.

Unknown hikers walking into the Coire An t-Sneachda. Most of my walk in it was snowing and overscast, so I couldn't see much. Then the clouds lifted some, and I could see the town of Aviemore, down below.

During the same lifting of the cloud layer, I got this picture of the Coire An t-Sneachda area. On the Far left is the "Mess of Pottage", then to the right is Aladdin's Buttress, then the Fluted Buttress, and then on the far right, Fiacaill Buttress.

A closer view of Aladdin's Buttress and Fluted Buttress. At this distance, you can't see the lines of climbers here on a weekend.

A closer view of Fiacaill Buttress. I wound up coming down "Goat Track" the next day, which is the snow field barely visible above the ridge on the left of the pictures.

In the middle is the route Aladdin's Mirror Direct. I wound up soloing this when I got excited to see a route with some real ice on it! Also it was the only route there weren't lines at the bottom of. I finally wound up blowing off the crux, since I was soloing, and the landing didn;t look good... Instead I finished by going up a little farther right.

Looking down Aladdin's Mirror Direct from the bottom of the ice pitch. I was about 1/3 of the way up at this point, and had to stop to put on crampons. With all the fresh snow, I could easily front point in my boots to here.

The next day I went to Coire An Lochain. The hike in was in pretty brutal winds and snow. The wind was so strong, it was hard to stand up sometimes. Plus there was no chance at all of following anything resembling a trail in these total white out conditions. Hiking in I lost track of the folks I was going to climb with (turns out they had turned back), I only had part of a rack, and the I saw the 4th member of our climbing party, who had gone back for an extra rope. Since we couldn't find the other two, and the weather was deteriorating, we decided to do a route. As we had only part of a rack (just large friends!), we picked a route that wouldn't need wired protection.

This is looking up "Savage Slit" from the bottom. The route we did actually went up to the right of the this. You can see the hoar frost starting to develop on the rock.

Climbers standing at the top of the climb Sidewinder, which we had done. They actually did Fallout, a much hard climb, but we finished at the same place. This shows the "full conditions" of the day.

My partner for the day, Rob Milne, a prolific winter climber for many years in Scotland, and ex-Coloradoan. It was great climbing with Rob, especially cause he could find the snow field down in a whiteout. :-).