The Cairngorms / Northern Corries


The Northern Corries, situated just south of Aviemore, are perhaps Scotlands most accessible venue for winter climbing. There is ample parking available at the Cairngorm Ski Centre (620m) and the whole community is geared towards the provision of winter sports.

Rock & Ice Climbing

The area is so called because of the three North facing corries: Coire Cas (ski-runs), Coire an t'Sneachda and Coire an Lochain. There is fine summer and winter climbing to be had in both Coure an t'Sneachta and Coire an Lochain ranging from the lowest grades to the highest. This depth and breadth of available routes means that there is something for everyone here and the corries are rarely deserted.

Maps & Guides

  • OS Explorer 403 - Cairn Gorm & Aviemore 1:25,000
  • OS Landranger Sheet 36 1:50,000
  • SMC Guide: The Cairngorms (Rock & Ice climbs) ISBN 0907521452
  • SMC Guide: Scottish Winter Climbs ISBN0907521479

Climbing Venues

The Northern Corries
  1. Coire Cas
    There's no climbing in Coire Cas unless you include the funicular railway and the ski-tows... this is where many days on the hills will start and finish and where skiers, boarders and more leisurely tourists will visit in the Cairngorms... The corrie does provide access to both the summit of Cairngorm itself (1244m) and consequently to the plateau.
  2. Climbing in Coire an Lochain
    Classic routes in Coire an Lochain include The Vent (III) and Satan's Slit (S). The corrie itself is very accessible and there's a broad range of winter and summer options. If the weather's good this is an excellent place to climb mountains!
  3. Climbing in Coire an t'Sneachda
    Classic routes in Sneachta include Jacob's Ladder (I), Alladins Mirror (I). Exceptionally accessible (because it's closer to the car than Coire an Lochain :-) with a great range of winter routes!
Loch A'an Basin
The Loch A'an basic is home to some tremendous crags and scenery. The normal approach (from the North) is to descend alongside Allt Coire Domhain although this slope can be notoriously avalanch prone in winter. In the basin you have access to Shelterstone Crag, Hell's Lum, Stag Rocks and the cliffs of Carn Etchachan all of which hold quality multi-pitch routes for summer and winter climbers... for the adventurous walker with time to kill an expedition into the Loch A'an basin followed by a treck down the Coire Etchachan Burn/Derry Burn will be highly rewarding.
Lochnagar on Royal Deeside
There is winter and summer climbing to be had here. The most famous route is probably Eagle Ridge (S).


There is something to suit everyone here: munro bagging abounds, forest walks (& biking) are plentiful on the Rothiemurchus estate and lower level mountain routes such as the Laraigh ghru (check spelling) are extremely popular with ramblers and the Scouts.

Munros in the Cairngorms
There are lots of Munros (18) in the Cairngorms. There are also lots of Corbetts in the Cairngorms (9).
Forest Walks
Lochain Eilan is one of the better known walks in the Rothiemuchus Forest/Estate (pay for parking) but it's miles from the Northern Corries... there are however walks in the estate around Loch Morlich
Low Level Mountain Walks
While passes like these may be described as low level they require all the requisite mountaineering skills when the area is in the grip of winter. The passes are just as exposed to avalanche risks as high mountain corries when there is snow cover and the passes themselves can funnel the wind making walking very difficult in bad conditions... the most famous of the lower level walks in the area is the Lairig Ghru (pheonetic: Larry Groo) - but with a "summit" at 850m (NH9735-0135) it should be considered a high level pass instead: it is also an extremely long walk.

Amenities and Development

Commercial development in the area has courted controversy since it first began. The Ptarmigan restaurant on the summit of Cairngorm itself and more recently the Cairngorm Funicular Railway which runs from the ski-centre to the restaurant all year round. The Northern Corries are now part of Cairngorm National Park

The town of Aviemore, just off the A9, has every amenity you could reasonably wish for; supermarkets, outdoor retailers, 5 star hotels, youth hostel, pubs etc. The Cairngorm Hotel on the main street has a lively bar and the food is excellent - also of note is the cafe above Cairngorm Mountain Sports (opposite the Police station).

If you're looking for places to stay, there are two two good youth hostels, (Aviemore and Cairngorm Lodge) in the Aviemore area and the Glenmore Lodge Outdoor Training Centre which also does good food and accommodation. There are also bunk houses and campsites.


The region has some of the best and worst weather in the country. While it is drier than the Western Highlands it is also much windier. Wind speeds regularly top 100 km/hour on the Cairngorm Plateau making walking and navigating extremely difficult.