Scottish Winter Climbing And Mountaineering Routes in Scotland UKScottish Winter Climbing And Mountaineering Routes in Scotland UK
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Dark clouds over the Fiacaill Ridge.
Fiacaill ridges Map Photos
An exhilarating little route with maximum interest packed into a short day.
Area: Northern Cairngorms
Grade: Winter II (easy)   what does that mean?
Total Distance: 8 km
Total Ascent: 690 m
Time: 4 hours
  • Ordnance Survey Landranger 1:50,000 Sheet 36
  • Ordnance Survey Explorer 403
  • Harvey Superwalker Cairn Gorm Map (1:25,000).
  • Avalanche hazard: This is a relatively safe route.
    Avalanche Forecast area: Northern Cairngorms   more
    Gear: A 25-metre rope, a few nuts and a couple of slings.
    Alternatives: There are a number of munros that could be incorporated into this route: Carn Lochan (add about 10 mins), Cairn Gorm (add about 1 hour), Ben Macdui (add at least 2 hours).
    There are numerous other excellent climbs in Coire an t-Sneachda and Coire an Lochain. Alladin's couloir is the easiest gully in Coire an t-Sneachda (Winter Grade I) and would be a good alternative to the Fiaciall ridge in good snow conditions. Refer to the SMC or Cicerone guidebooks for route decriptions.

    Park at the main ski centre at Cairngorm, which is 9 miles from Aviemore.

    Grid Reference NH990060.


    Walk in a westerly direction below the ski lifts along a well used path. After about 500 m, the path forks. Take the higher path heading towards Coire an t-Sneachda. As the path turns northwards, the broad hump of the Fiacaill Ridge, which separates Coire an t-Sneachda and Coire an Lochain, comes into view.

    Fiacaill Ridge 

    About 2 km from the car park, break off the path and gain the bottom of the ridge. At first the ridge is broad and rocky but narrows to a nice crest. A steep step, reached shortly before the ridge proper, may be climbed directly or bypassed on the right. A rope may be required here.

    The crux of the route involves scrambling over large rounded blocks. This is a bit of a challenge in crampons but there are ample opportunities for 'torqueing' the axe in cracks between the blocks. If necessary, the obstacles can all be avoided by climbing the snow slopes on the right (W). Soon the ridge flattens out and the rim of the plateau is reached

    Stob Coire an t-Sneachda 

    Turn left from the top of the Fiacaill and follow the corrie rim for about 250 m (distance) to a flattening.

    Escape Route!
    From the flattening, it is possible to descend directly into Coire an t-Sneachda via the Goat Track, a wide break in the crags. However, unless conditions are really bad, it's as well to carry on to complete the route.

    Continue over the rocky ground in a generally easterly direction to reach the summit of Stob Coire an t-Sneachda, watching out for the in-cut gullies and crags of Coire an t-Sneachda on your left (N).

    Note: Although not included in the Munro tables, Stob Coire an t-Sneachda is a 'murdo' - mountains over 3000 feet with at least 30 metres (98 feet) separation all round.


    From Stob Coire an t-Sneachda, continue along the rim which turns north (cairns) until you reach the start of the 'other' Fiacaill ridge (Fiacaill a Choire Chais), which is about 1100 m beyond and marked by a large cairn


    Follow the Fiacaill a Choire Chais back to the car park. Stay left of the pistes to avoid colliding with skiers.

    © 2007