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.
There are 2 general approaches: up and over from Glen Feshie, or from below in Gleann Eanaich. Which part of the face you are intending to ski on may dictate your approach.
From Glen Feshie: This is the recommended approach for the Sgòr Gaoith summit gullies in particular, but useful for all of the lines described. From the car park at NH852003, follow the Allt Ruadh path up through the trees. Where the path crosses the Allt a' Chrom-alltain, it becomes less distinct, but brings you up onto the shoulder just to the south of the very shapely summit of Sgòr Gaoith. If heading for Sgòran Dubh Mòr, then you could skin up the left branch of the Allt a' Chrom-alltain (a fun ski descent in its own right).
From Gleann Eanaich: There are various options for parking to the North (Whitewell, Loch an Eilien, Coylumbridge), all with their own limitations due to space. A bike is recommended for this approach, and as a result, consider parking a little further away, even in Aviemore itself, to reduce the pressure on these locations. It doesn't add much to your day!
From the end of the track, ford the outflow of the loch. If heading for the Sgòr Gaoith summit gullies, then make your way along the easily lost path on the West shore. As frustration kicks in, start to rise towards the band of craggy ground, aiming for slightly beyond the summit so that you follow the line of "Headwind" when you reach it. A steep heathery scramble follows, which isn't that pleasant with a heavy pack and skis. Remember, you will need to head back down this way too, and it doesn't get any better in that direction! Once above the band of craggy ground, you should hopefully find yourself on the easy lower slopes of headwind, which you should be able to follow to the ridge, steepening just below the top. This approach isn't recommended for the Sgòr Gaoith summit gullies. The only real advantage of going this way is not having to climb back out after your last run.
If the Willow Spout is complete, then cross heathery ground, making a rising traverse to the mouth of the gully. Climbing this will bring you out onto Sgòran Dubh Beag, and is useful for skiing the lines below Sgòran Dubh Mòr, as well as the Willow Spout itself. Coire Sgòran Dubh Beag would offer a useful ascent too, if complete through the lower gully.
Access to the Col gullies can be from below if there is enough snow, otherwise they are easily located from above.
Conditions & warnings
Sgòr Gaoith summit gullies
The face containing the Sgòr Gaoith summit gullies catches the morning sun as you'd expect, but it also has a slight southerly aspect to it. It is not a place to be on a warm day. On a day when people were skiing all over the East face of Aonach Mor without issue, and nearby Coire Bhrochain was fine, all 5 of the summit gullies spontaneously avalanched on this face.
As a consequence of not being backed by a sizeable platteau, the snow build up can be less than you'd maybe hoped or expected. That's not to say that considerably sized cornices don't build up, because they do, but it can be a difficult place to get the right balance.
The lines described from Headwind to Avalanche Alley all end in craggy ground. All 5 level off before the ground steepens again. It is unlikely that conditions would be favourable to safely descend further. You will need to climb back out.
It's also worth pointing out that you can be fooled into thinking that there is continuous snow all the way to the loch, when looking down the summit gullies. There can be snow filled runnels on the slopes immediately above the loch, but the steep band of craggy ground that is hidden from view will more than likely not be snow covered.
Sgòran Dubh Mòr
It can be difficult to locate the lip of Coire Olc ("Fan Coire") in poor visibility, particularly above Fantasia The high point of the corrie is at 1060m, East-northeast from summit, and depending upon where you meet it, there are no obvious features from above. As the corrie is cut into the downward slope from the summit, any cornice present also slopes downward.
Relevant Weather Forecasts