Just back from the Cairngorms and the first winter route of the 2010/11 season!
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.
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.
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!
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
- Black Diamond Viper axes
- Petzl Dart crampons
- Grivel Spring Leash
- La Sportiva Trango Evo Extreme boots
- Black Diamond Xenos Harness
- Metolius Inferno Wiregate quickdraws x15
- Wild Country Rocks 1-10
- Black Diamond wired hexes
- Black Diamond Camalots 0.5 to 3
- Black Diamond ATC Guide
- Assortment of slings and screwgates
- Petzl Meteor III helmet
Clothing for the route
- Thorlo Mountaineering socks
- Lowe Alpine Powerstretch Tights
- Icebreaker Merino crew
- Patagonia R1 top
- Arc’teryx Gamma AR pant
- Arc’teryx Venta SV jacket
- RAB Generator Alpine belay jacket
- Black Diamond Impulse gloves (leading) and Specialist gloves (seconding and belaying)
- Patagonia Beanie
Winter Conditions and Weather Links
- Needlesports: A great round up of winter conditions links, blogs, weather and the crucial SAIS forecasts.
- UKClimbing.com: Winter logbooks and forum