BLOG: White Magic, Coire an t’Sneachda by Kevin Avery

Just back from the Cairngorms and the first winter route of the 2010/11 season!

Steve Dunning at the top of the Magic Crack on White Magic VII 7, Coire an t'Sneachda, Cairngorms

Headed up on Saturday evening with Steve Dunning. We arrived in a damp Aviemore at about 10pm, just in time for beers and live music at the Bridge Inn. The plan was to sleep in the car park at Cairngorm ski area then rise early Sunday morning and make a firm decision as to our objective.

Bed for the night! Kevin and Steve outside the ranger station, Cairngorm ski area

Up at 5am we decided to head for Coire an t’Sneachda (see the UKC destination article by Viv Scott) and the mixed test-piece of White Magic VII 7. There was a light snow cover down to the parking area and a reasonable amount on the walk in but fortunately, a decent trail all the way to the Coire floor  gave us the luxury of an easy approach. We arrived just as it was getting light to find the buttress routes all sporting a decent winter coat! I was a little concerned that they may have been black after having read a report on UKC from Saturday, but thankfully we weren’t disappointed.

Steve Dunning setting up belay below the Magic Crack

White Magic is a route I’ve wanted to do ever since watching the BBC film of Scottish mixed master, Graham Ettle climbing it over ten years ago. The first 2 pitches are shared with The Genie (pitch 2 of which is actually quite tricky itself!) before stepping right to belay below the Magic Crack. This gives sustained and technical hooking and torquing with poor foot placements. Fortunately the protection is good although the crack was surprisingly iced up for this stage in the season, meaning the nuts didn’t go in quite as easily as I’d have liked!

Kevin Avery arranging gear before the initial tricky corner on pitch 2. This is shared with The Genie V 7. The Magic Crack is visible, running diagonally up and right.
Steve Dunning seconding pitch 2


Steve Dunning seconding a very wintery White Magic (on the famous Magic Crack pitch)

One final tricky pitch (awkward!) and an abseil descent (very continental) was followed by a race back down to the car, celebratory fish and chips in Aviemore and the 6 hour drive back to Yorkshire!

All in all an awesome day, fantastic route and superb start to the winter season!

Gear for the route

Clothing for the route

Winter Conditions and Weather Links

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