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Northern Cairngorms

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Main body of the Cairngorms, east of Glen Feshie, north of the Geldie burn/River Dee.

Beinn a'Bhuird: Coire an Dubh Lochain

Possibly the most beautiful of the Beinn a'Bhuird corries, there is some skiing possible in the right conditions.   The most obvious features are the headwall of the corrie, known as the 'Avalanche Slope', and the Main Rake to its left (when viewing it from the corrie floor), but there are many other lines possible.  The North face of the ridge that leads out to A' Chioch offers some steep lines often without the cornice problems found elsewhere in the corrie.

Beinn a'Bhuird: Coire na Ciche

This is the southernmost corrie of the Bheinn a'Bhuird corries.  The south east facing headwall offers some pleasant skiing with many variations in line possible.

Beinn a'Bhuird: Coire nan Clach

As with all of the other corries on Beinn a'Bhuird, this secluded corrie is well worth a visit anytime of year.  The corrie is often ringed with cornices throughout the winter and well into spring, but there are gaps, and it holds snow well, as with the other east facing corries nearby.  The corrie is split into 2 lobes, separated by a rocky promontory.  The rocky Dividing Buttress separates the southern lobe from Coire an Dubh Lochain, and this face has some shallow runnels that look interesting.  The northernmost lobe peters out towards the streamline descending from Cnap a' Chleirich, which offers an easy return to the plateau.   Alternatively, you can climb up the promontory, staying in the snow runnel on the north side of it.  It is basically Grade I, but quicker.

The main picture to the right shows the wealth of options available for descents in either lobe of the corrie.

Beinn a'Bhuird: Garbh Choire

Garbh Choire on Bheinn a'Bhuird is a remote place to visit any time of the year, but in winter/spring, it feels even more so.  That said, it's quite feasible if conditions allow, to use a bike to take a lot of the sting out of the return trip, and it's possible to get here for a day and do more than one run into the corrie. 

Beinn Bhrotain

The remote Coire Cath nam Fionn is the main attraction of this mountain, offering 3 very obvious gully lines on Bheinn Bhrotain, and the potential for some interesting skiing on the face below Leac Ghorm on Monadh Mor.

Ben Macdui

The steeper lines of Coire Sputan Dearg are described separately, and whereas the descents from Ben Macdui to the South and West are maybe not as steep, they are certainly much bigger.  It wouldn't be right not to mention them!

The large dome of Ben Macdui is a popular snow sure tour from Cairngorm and back.   Even in lean snow conditions, it's often possible to descend any of the 3 lines described.  The hanging corrie between the Allt a' Choire Mhòir and Allt Clach nan Taillear also gets skied, with a significantly steeper entry than the other 3 lines described.

Ben Macdui: Stob Coire Sputan Dearg

Stob Coire Sputan Dearg offers 2 distinct areas for skiing: the cliffs of Coire Sputan Dearg, and the main face below the summit.  Coire Sputan Dearg offers some short gullies that hold snow well after a thaw, despite their South-Easterly aspect.  It's quite feasible to do several runs in a day here.  Below the summit of Stob Coire Sputan Dearg, there is a big face that holds snow well.  It offers a number of less well defined descent options, that will all depend upon getting a balance between a low enough snow line, and a manageable cornice.

Braeriach - Garbh Choire Dhaidh

Sandwiched between the more popular, and arguably more impressive, Garbh Choire Mór and Coire Bhrochain, Garbh Choire Dhaidh doesn't offer the same defined lines that its more illustrious neighbours do.   Catching the sun more than it's neighbours as well often leads to poorer snow snow conditons, but it is a beautiful secluded place to visit, made all the better if a descent is involved.   

Despite there not being many defined lines, theres is one reliable gem: Monolith Gully. 

Braeriach - Garbh Choire Mór

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.

Braeriach: Coire Bhrochain

Tucked high below the main summit of Braeriach, this corrie can hold onto skiable snow well into late spring/summer, despite it's generally southerly aspect.  There are 3 obvious, and relatively popular lines, but others are possible.   West Gully is the steepest and widest of the 3 main gullies.  East is the easiest angled, but narrowest of the main gullies.  Central Buttress Gully is the most interesting.  All 3 are superb in the right conditions. 

Cairn Toul

This magnificent mountain offers fantastic late season skiing on 3 aspects.  If snow conditions allow, there are 2 runs that offer over 600m of descent when following snow filled stream lines, even when the rest of the hillside appears bare.  None of the descent lines are particularly steep, but are in a great position.  One of descents to the Lairig Ghru could be done to finish off the day, having earlier been down something steeper on Sgor an Lochain Uaine or in Garbh Coire Mór.

Cairngorm: Coire an Lochain

In contrast to neighbouring Coire an t-Sneachda, Coire an Lochain is small and enclosed.  The short buttresses that sit high above the lochan are home to many hard miixed winter climbs, separated by much easier gully lines.  The Couloir is the obvious ski descent, but there are rumours The Vent being descended (a very steep narrow slot to the East of The Couloir), and the right branch of Y-Gully gets talked about (to the West of The Couloir, usually topped by a massive cornice).  Both are likely to be utterly terrifying.

Cairngorm: Coire an t-Sneachda

Coire an t-Sneachda is almost certainly one of the most popular gully skiing locations in Scotland due to the proximity to the Cairngorm ski area.  It's also a contender for the most popular winter climbing area in Scotland as well, and as a result, it can be very busy in the gullies!  The best time to ski the lines are late in the season when the corrie is quieter, or late in the day to avoid the majority of the crowds.

Easy options into the corrie include the west facing descent from Windy Col (at NH998036), or "0.5 Gully", a shallow northeast facing gully between the head of the col above the Goat Track, and Fiacaill Buttress on Cairn Lochan at NH990028.  The slope taken by the Goat Track can also give a good short descent in the right conditions, and is steeper than nearby "0.5 Gully". 

Coire Etchachan

The relatively low lying and remote Coire Etchachan may not spring to mind when thinking of ski locations in the Cairngorms.  However, it is home to a wee gem in the form of Forked Gully, and is definitely worth a visit.

Loch Avon Basin

The Loch Avon basin is a fine place to ski, offering easy uncomplicated descents down relatively wide gullies.  It's a popular area for skiing, due to the proximity of the ski area at Cairngorm which makes access easier.  As a result, you can easily combine several descents in a day. (e.g. from the car park over to the top of Stag Rocks, down Y or Diagonal Gully, then up onto Carn Etchachan and down either Castlegates or Pinnacle Gully, then up Coire Domhain and down Alladins Couloir in Coire an t-Sneachda).  Hells Lum, the gully that gives the cliff the same name, has been skied and is a different proposition to the other gullies described, being steep and narrow. 

Sgor an Lochain Uaine

Sgor an Lochain Uaine, also known as "The Angel's Peak", is a striking summit, particularly when viewed from the Cairngorm-Macdui plateau. The Northeast ridge offers the climber an easy, but spectacular way directly to the summit.  However, the Northeast face offers the skier a memorable experience descending towards Lochan Uaine.   The Northwest face has been skied as well, but the line is unclear at this point.

Sgòr Gaoith and Sgòran Dubh Mòr

The high points of "The Feshie Ridge", Sgòr Gaoith and Sgòran Dubh Mòr, are home to some justifiably popular skiing on the West face above Glen Feshie.  A direct descent from the summit of Sgòr Gaoith is a fine way to end your day on your return to Glen Feshie, and "Tom", "Dick" and "Harry" are classic easy angled gully lines in Coire Gorm, below Carn Ban Mor.  Apart from the low lying chutes on Creag Mhigeachaidh which are occasionally in condition, the skiing on this side of the hill is amenable and reliable 

In contrast, the vast Eastern face above Gleann Eanaich is riddled with gullies and ridges, and on arrival from Glen Feshie, it can feel like you are looking down into another world.  The descents here are exciting and commiting, requiring sound judgement to get the right conditions.

The summit gullies of Sgòr Gaoith are set above the loch, with complex rocky ridges separating the lines.  Gasps of "This doesn't look like Scotland" have been heard whilst looking into the various lines!  The gullies below the col between the 2 summits require further exploration, but are generally more amenable.

Coire Olc (with "Olc" possibly aptly meaning "anger" or "evil") is a foreboding place.  Also known as "Fan Coire", 2 large triangular buttresses guard the lower slopes, with a gully passing between them that runs the full height of the face, passing between 2 rocky buttresses within the corrie higher up.  This is "2/3rds Gully", named because the lower section is rarely in condition.  When it is, it banks up to a Grade I climb, and if you could get into it, it would be by far the biggest vertical gully descent in the Cairngorms.  2 lines have been skied either side of the central line, both worthwhile in their own right. 

Just to the North of Coire Olc is Coire Sgòran Dubh Beag, which arguably looks even more like a fan (of the paper variety).  With several shallow, relatively amenable gully lines, there's plenty of choice.  Lastly, the prominent buttress below Sgòran Dubh Beag is split by the striking line of the Willow Spout.

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