Winter Climbs in the Cairngorms

Winter Climbs in the Cairngorms

What do Postman Pat, K9, Bambi and Barry White have in common?

They all appear in the new updated guide to one of the best winter climbing areas in Britain, the Cairngorms.

First published in 1973 when John Cunningham wrote the guidebook, Cicerone Press’s Winter Climbs in the Cairngorms in now into its sixth edition.

For some time Allen Fyffe, who has climbed for more than 40 years, penned the updates. For this brand new edition, he has been joined by his son Blair Fyffe, himself no climbing slouch, having posted the first ascent of a grade VIII, 9 route on Ben Nevis’s north face.

Their combined knowledge of the Cairngorm’s ice and snow climbs combine in this guide from the renowned Cumbrian publishing house.

The book details 545 routes, in 16 different areas, from Lochnagar in the East to Cairntoul and Braeriach in the West.

Each section has a photographic topo diagram of the routes described, with the ascent lines marked out on the pictures.

The climbs are graded using Roman numerals from I to VIII for overall difficulty, with Arabic numbers giving a value for technical difficulty of the climbing.

Routes the authors rate as particularly high quality are given between one and three stars, though they point out all the climbs are worthwhile, as the guide features a selection of winter routes – less worthy ones have been excluded.

Winter Climbs in the Cairngorms contains a comprehensive description of the ethics of Scottish winter climbing: what is accepted and what is not – sticking fairly close to British rockclimbing principles where possible.

All winter climbers will benefit from the sections on equipment, avalanches – including what to do if caught in one, weather and mountain rescue.

The Fyffes sing the praises of the Cairngorms, pointing out there is variety in plenty, from long varied routes to short test pieces.

Locations vary from the easily accessible and therefore popular, for instance Cairn Gorm’s northern corries, to the remote cliffs of Braeriach and Beinn a’Bhuird.

Anyone heading out for a winter climb in the Cairngorms should be competent and confident with a map and compass, the authors say. Scottish winter conditions can be among the most challenging in the world and whiteouts can catch out the unprepared.

The book has a map of all 16 climbing areas, also denoting the mountains on which they can be found. There is also a road map to aid planning of the journey to the climbs, and the guide has additional colour photos of climbers in action on various routes, which give a good flavour of the type of conditions climbers are likely to encounter.

The book is split into three sections covering the northern Cairngorms; the southern Cairngorms including Lochnagar and Glen Clova; and Creag Meagaidh.

Each route has a description, its length, grade and, where known, the climbers who posted the first ascent and when.

Winter Climbs in the Cairngorms is essential reading for mountaineers heading for this prime climbing area, whether they be absolute beginners or top-end grade VII climbers.

Postman Pat, K9, Bambi and Barry White, by the way, are some of the more imaginative names given to routes by their first climbers.

Winter Climbs in the Cairngorms by Allen and Blair Fyffe, published by Cicerone

267 pages, ISBN 978-1-85284-622-0

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