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Thread: Coire An T-Sneachda

  1. #1
    Widdler Gareth Houghton's Avatar
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    I am planning a route for taking in Ben Macdui and Cairn Gorm when there is a good snow cover, i was thinking of going up the ridge to the west of Core An Lochain but have had the seed planted to go via Coire An T-Sneachda, can anybody tell me what the route up there is like in winter conditions (Is it technical or just a steep slope?).

    Cheers

    Gareth

  2. #2
    Mini Goon
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    Via Sneachda there are two easy-ish routes:-
    1. The Goat Track - Grade I.
    2. Fiacall Ridge - Grade II.
    3. Fiacall a Choire Cas. (I know it's not in Sneachda, but it's one of the main escape routes off the plateau.)

    Which route did you have in mind?

  3. #3
    Ultra King AT (http://AyrshireTiger.wordpress.com/)'s Avatar
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    Gareth - a couple of years ago some of us did Cairn Gorm then went on to come down Coire an t-Sneachda via what I think is called the goat track. Very deep snow so we had to be careful but it's not technical at all (although there are plenty of technical climbs in the same area). Path down starts at Grid Ref NH 991028.

  4. #4
    Widdler Gareth Houghton's Avatar
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    It Must be the Goat Track then, Is that the path that is on the Os 25K?


  5. #5
    Ultra King AT (http://AyrshireTiger.wordpress.com/)'s Avatar
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    Think it will be - drops north then east past some small lochans.

  6. #6
    Mini Goon
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    Might be worth mentioning that it is route not to be underestimated - it provides a fair bit of business for the local MRT. Under hard/icy conditions , there is the potential for a bone-breaking slip. It is also avalanche-prone and a number of users have triggered slab avalanches (hint:- check its aspect and incline).

  7. #7
    Ultra King AT (http://AyrshireTiger.wordpress.com/)'s Avatar
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    Would endorse Jan's last comments - we did it in good conditions but would imagine it could be very tricky if frozen. And it is very steep!

  8. #8
    Mini Goon
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    The wind vortex funnels down this slope into Sneachda (check where snow is dumped in Sneachda, often across a range of aspects!) and it is not uncommon for windspeeds to be c100mph on the plateau...

    A number of years ago, I abandoned an attempt to descend the Goat Track because of the wind strength. Far safer to either traverse to the Fiacall a Choire Cas and descend this or traverse Cairn Gorm and descend via the Ptarmigan Station down the ski slopes. Alternatively, the W ridge bounding Coire Lochan - avoid the twin burn descent though!

  9. #9
    Widdler Gareth Houghton's Avatar
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    Funny enough, my next question was going to be about avalanche. Perhaps I will stick with my original plan and just enjoy the whole day rather than take on something that I dont really have the skills to judge wether it is safe to do or not.

  10. #10
    Mini Goon
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    Glenmore Lodge do a very worthwhile weekend avalanche course...as do a number of other providers.

    It has been said, too, that the escape routes into the ski area from Cairn Gorm (and the Fiacall a Choire Cas itself) are essential features for anyone intending to use the plateau in winter.

  11. #11
    Mini Goon
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    While I'm at it - groans of "No, not more..." - 'Chance in a Million?' details avalanche accidents in Scotland (& other parts of the UK & Ireland) and there are a number of accounts from the N Corries. Would also recommend 'Snow Sense' because it suggests a simple and easy-to-use way (a traffic light system) to assess the hazard of a route (first saw it used in a lecture at the Clachaig!)

    Not forgetting the SAIS forecast either, which must always be used in conjunction with a decent mountain weather forecast, 'cos if the weather forecast goes awry, so does the avalanche forecast!


  12. #12
    Widdler Gareth Houghton's Avatar
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    Jan / Steve

    Cheers for the advice, Although I do have crampons and Ice Axe and have done numerous outings in the Lakes\Snowdonia I prefer to err on the side of caution, that is why i asked the question as I felt i would be trying take on a route that would be all of the things you described.
    I have been to the Cairngorms last winter to try to attempt Devils Point\Braeriach etc and that was a complete failure as our timings were way out after walking the Lairig Ghru in Waist deep snow and there was a huge cornice on Coire Odhar so we decided to can ot and head back up the Lairig Ghru.
    Therefore I really want this trip to be a success.

  13. #13
    ‹bermensch druidh's Avatar
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    Fiacall ridge is certainly a great way up if you have the skills and confidence. Real "Mixed" climbing with lots of rocky bits and snow/ice as appropriate.

    Don't underestimate the distance / time between Cairngorm and Macdui either. It always looks close but it's a loooong way there and back. Set out very early and be prepared for a dark return journey too. However, if you get the weather this can be a fantastic expedition. I recall once descending Fiacall a Choire Cas in what would have been pitch dark other than the absolutely brightest moonlight I've ever experienced. With that and the hard snow underfoot, it remains once of my all time fave outdoor moments.

  14. #14
    Mini Goon
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    Gareth, totally identify with what you're saying. Easter '98:- failed to get anywhere near Braeriach in deep powder; failed to get up the Lairig Ghru - deep powder; failed to get to Bynack More - deep powder; struggled up the Fiacall a Choire Chais on up on to Cairn Gorm. The powder was fantastic for boarders though... It was all the more galling considering I was in the Coe in February and there wasn't a patch of snow anywhere (ok, a little patch on Buchaille Etive Beag).

    One route I've followed:- up to Cairn Gorm (via Fiacall a Choire Chais) then NE to Cnap Coire na Spreidhe 1151m then NNE to point 1028m. Finally the N Ridge (E Side of Coire Laogh Mor) to point 737m then down past where forestry is marked on the map (since felled?), traverse back to car park for Coire na Ciste. You can retreat back to the ski area if conditions crap out on Cairn Gorm.

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