Cornices. That's what you think of with regard to Garbh Choire Mór. The snowiest corrie in Scotland is usually ringed by enormous cornices, barring access to some of the appealing gullies beneath them. Pinnacle Gully usually offers a break in the cornice, but the other gullies may only succumb with an abseil, an ascent to below the cornice, or a very late season gamble. The lines are generally short in the upper corrie, and more than half of the total descent of each line will be below the cliffs in the corrie itself. However, it is a stunning place to ski, and well worth the considerable effort to get there. The lower corrie, which can be found between the main corrie and Sgor an Lochain Uaine, has less defined features, but offers longer descents.
As per Cairn Toul and Sgor and Lochain Uaine, you can approach from the south via Coire Odhar, skirting the summits of Cairn Toul and Sgor an Lochain Uaine, or follow the Lairig Ghru and then into Garbh Choire Mor itself, passing the Garbh Choire Refuge. From the North, the best approach is to cycle up Gleann Eanaich and ascend Coire Dhondail to the plateau. The down side of this approach is that you must climb back out of the corrie again no matter what.
Ascents from the corrie
The easiest line through the cliffs is up Pinnacle Gully, which you may well find steeper on the way up than it felt on the way down! Alternatively, the nose between Garbh Choire Mór and Garbh Choire Dhaidh offers a straightforward ascent. If heading back to Deeside, and you want to get another run done on the way back (such as on Cairn Toul - recommended!), then you can ascend to just above the col between Garbh Choire Mór and Sgor and Lochain Uaine (NN947976) up a shallow ridge which is accessible from the lower corrie. Late in the season, there should be a break in the cornice.
The broad slope to the climbers right of West Gully offers a not too steep ascent also. If heading for this from the upper corrie, there is a ramp line that cuts across the buttress at the level of the upper corrie floor, bringing you onto the slope of West Gully about half way up.
The South facing slope on the North side of the corrie provides a pleasant descent, particularly to salvage a trip when the cornices prohibit doing anything else.
In 2014, the film LATE was made, and is well worth a watch. GCM features in it (from about 29 minutes), including
- a ski descent of a line between Col Gully and Forgotten Gully by Robert Kingsland,
- a snowboard descent of Forgotten Gully by Joe Simpson (but you wouldn't know it was a gully as it was so banked out),
- and the obvious snowfield and striking diagonal chimney that splits West Buttress (between Forgotten Gully and West Gully) was skied by Aaron McLean.
- a ski descent of a line just to the East of Col Gully by Amy Marwick
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