Hills: Cairngorm (Munro) and Cnap Coire na Spreidhe (Munro Top)
Date: Sunday 18th December 2011
Company: Myself and Mark
Time: 5Hrs 20Mins

In advance of attending my Club’s Christmas Dinner this evening, I set off this morning for an ascent of Cairngorm.

I have ascended Cairngorm a number of times previously – on its own, combined with Ben Macdui (twice), combined with Beinn Mheadhoin (twice) and once following an ascent of Finger’s Ridge. However, I had never before ascended via Fiacaill Ridge.

After parking up in the Coire Cas car park, I waited around 20 minutes for the Club bus to arrive.

Coire Cas car park:

Club bus arriving:

I then had a quick chat to find out what others were planning to do. A few were intending ascending Fiacaill Ridge, so I opted to join them. I set off ahead with Mark, making our way round to the Northern Corries.

Click here to see a map of the route undertaken

We followed the Northern Corries track for a few hundred metres and then took the right-fork heading towards Coire an Lochain.

Looking back towards Loch Morlich:

Following path round to the Northern Corries:

After walking another kilometre, we made our way towards the base of the wide ridge that leads up to Fiacaill Ridge.

Heading for the base of the ridge leading up towards Fiacaill Ridge:

About to start ascending the wide ridge:

I found the ascent of the ridge quite tiring. I need to get used to the weight of my winter boots again .

Ascending the wide ridge:

Ascending the ridge (Coire an t-Sneachda to the left):

Was really pleased with the weather today – much better than what MWIS had forecast .

Ascent through boulders:

Approaching the top of the wide ridge:

As we ascended the ridge, we could see that most of the surrounding hills were well-plastered with snow. The views were great.

Looking towards Glen Feshie hills:

Snowy landscape:

Was nice to look across to the cliffs of Coire an t-Sneachda. We could see a number of climbers ascending various routes. I quite fancy doing Aladdin’s Couloir and Pygmy Ridge some time in the future.

Cliffs of Coire an t-Sneachda:


On reaching the point in the next photo, I stopped to put on my crampons. A couple of climbers were roping-up just ahead of me.

Today we opted to take the easier Grade I line up Fiacaill Ridge, bypassing most of the difficulties on the right - as we had no ropes, harnesses or protection with us except for a single walking axe and crampons. Sticking to the ridge is Grade II.

Fiacaill Ridge ahead:

Was glad I had put on my crampons for descending from the first wee top.

Looking back to first top:

Mark waited patiently for me to catch-up at the next section, as I had been busy taking numerous photos during the ascent. However, for the next section my camera went into the rucksack – as it is quite bulky and I didn’t want it swinging around.

About to start the main ascent:

Myself ascending ridge (photo by Mark):

The ascent to the right of the ridge was much easier than expected - it didn’t take long to reach the top of Fiacaill Ridge. I didn’t find the route exposed, albeit there were a few places were a fall could prove fatal (or at least sore!).

View of some climbers ascending a gully from top of Fiacaill Ridge:

Looking back down Fiacaill Ridge:

From the top of Fiacaill Ridge, we decided to head for the summit of Cairngorm. We pretty-much followed the rim of the coire to get there.

Cairngorm summit and Coire an t-Sneachda:

The views were pretty-good but cloud was heading in our direction.

View across to Beinn Mheadhoin:

Approaching the top of the Goat track:

Looking back to Fiacaill Ridge (in profile):

Looking back to Cairn Lochan from Stob Coire an t-Sneachda:

Looking across to Beinn Mheadhoin:

By the time we started the final ascent of Cairngorm the cloud had reached us and it had begun to snow.

Final ascent to summit of Cairngorm:

Looking back:

Looking back to Fiacaill Ridge:

We stopped at the weather station, where I had my first bite to eat of the day. I was definitely feeling hungry . The filling inside my sandwiches was frozen!

Rime-covered weather station at summit of Cairngorm:

Rime-covered weather station at summit of Cairngorm:

From the summit of Cairngorm we made our way down to top of the ski tow and then across to Cnap Coire na Spreidhe – a Munro Top that I had not ascended previously.

View from summit of Cnap Coire na Spreidhe:

From Cnap Coire na Spreidhe, we crossed several ski runs to reach a track descending to the Coire Cas car park.

A really enjoyable day out, followed by an excellent meal at the Cairngorm Hotel in Aviemore .