Scottish Winter Climbing And Mountaineering Routes in Scotland UKScottish Winter Climbing And Mountaineering Routes in Scotland UK
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The elegant lines of the Stuic as seen from the summit of Lochnagar.
The Stuic Map Photos
This route involves a long walk-in but this is more than compensated for by an excellent ridge scramble - the Stuic - and a round of the 'other' Lochnagar corrie.
Area: Cairngorms
Grade: Winter I (hard)   what does that mean?
Total Distance: 20 km
Total Ascent: 980 m
Time: 8 hours
Maps:
  • Ordnance Survey Landranger 1:50,000 Sheet 43 and 44 (i.e. the route spans both maps)
  • Ordnance Survey Explorer 388
  • Unfortunately, Harvey Lochnagar Map (1:25,000) does not cover the start of the route.
  • Avalanche hazard: This route is fairly safe with the possible exception of the descent gully between Cac Car Mor and Cac Carn Beag. In avalanche-prone conditions, it would be safer to descend by the NW ridge of Cac Carn Beag.
    Avalanche Forecast area: Southern Cairngorms.   more
    Gear: A 25 m rope and some slings should be sufficient.
    Tips: To get to the hill, you need to navigate through the Ballochbuie Forest. It is worth taking care over the navigation as a wrong turn could prove costly time-wise. You should be aiming for the forest exit on the Feindallacher Burn (NO206880).
    Start 

    The start of the route is the route is just off the A93, about 2½ miles east of Braemar, about 200 m east of the bridge over which the A93 crosses the River Dee. Take the small road signposted for Keiloch and park just beyond in the car park provided by the Invercauld Estate, signposted 'Walkers car park'. The car park is pay-and-display, currently for a fee of £2.

    Grid Reference NO188911

    Approach 

    Walk in a westerly direction along the A86 and spy the old Invercauld Bridge on your left after about 100m. Cross this fine, old bridge and head left (E) along a forest road. After about 200 m, the road forks. Take the right fork (ignoring a perpendicular path on the right). Continue directly on at a crossroads and through a gate about 300 m beyond the crossroads. Walk up a series of switchbacks, passing close to the impressive Falls of Garbh Allt.

    The road forks again just beyond this point. Follow the left fork. 400 m beyond, the road forks once more. This time stay right. Finally walk through a gate and exit the forest (NO206880).

    About 100 m beyond the gate, drop down to the burn and find a place to cross. It is just about feasible to cross the burn using the fence at the forest edge, but this should be saved for emergencies!

    Head east across the heathery moor to pick up the Allt Lochan nan Eun which runs down from Sandy Loch. Walk along the left (W) bank of the burn where a small path through the heather may make life a bit easier. Finally, you reach Sandy Loch. The Stuic is the impressive ridge due south of the loch.

    The Stuic 

    Climb the Stuic, initially over broken rocky ground, then via a short gully in the centre of the ridge. After another 30 m or so (ascent), the crest of the ridge becomes steep and exposed. Either tackle the ridge direct or via slightly easier ground 4-5 m to the left. If you take the option on the left, ensure you regain the crest as soon as you can.

    From here, the angle gradually eases until gentle slopes lead to the summit of the Stuic. This is marked by a small cairn which could well be buried in winter.

    Escape Route!
    If it's blowing a hoolie on the plateau, you can descend the most westerly of the Stuic's ridges and make a rapid return to Sandy Loch.

    Cac Carn Beag (1155m) 

    From the summit of the Stuic, head round the corrie rim to reach a bealach at around NO240852. There are large in-cut gullies just beyond the point where the Stuic meets the rim and, in poor visibility, it may be best to make a dog-leg to avoid them.

    WarningIn poor visibilty, the next section requires even more careful navigation to avoid the crags and in-cut gullies in the Lochnagar corrie, which lies just beyond the summits you are aiming for.

    From the bealach, head to the lower summit, Cac Car Mor. Then navigate to the main summit of Lochnagar, Cac Carn Beag.

    Descent 

    To descend, retrace your steps for about 200 m to the wide gully between Cac Car Mor and Cac Carn Beag. Descend the gully, heading west, back towards Sandy Loch. Follow the burn back to Sandy Loch, and sticking left of the loch, and slighly above it, to avoid some very boggy ground lower down.

    Return 

    Retrace your steps, taking care to ensure you traverse back to the forest entrance on the Feindallacher Burn. Continuing too far down the Allt Lochan nan Eun (which is tempting) leads to problems as getting back to the road through the forest undergrowth is unpleasant.

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