Route Major

Page Type
Cairngorms, Scotland, Europe
Route Type:
Mixed winter climb
Time Required:
A long day

Route Quality: 3 Votes

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Route Major
Created On: Mar 23, 2004
Last Edited On: Mar 23, 2004


The route is technically on Carn Etchachan, a sub-peak within the Ben Macdui / Cairngorm Massif, but the approach is from Cairngorm and Carn Etchachan itself isn't a major enough peak to deserve its own page.

There are two main approaches from the Cairngorm carpark too the Loch Avon Basin and hence to the climb:

1) Follow the path to Coire Sneachdha and take the Goat-track gully and Coire Domhain down to the Basin. This is the quickest way to access the climb but can be very avalanche prone, especially on the descent.

2) Walk up the Fiaciall Choire Cas (Not the Fiachaille Ridge) then descend Coire Raibiert to the shores of Loch Avon. follow this around and cross the river entering the loch quite high up. This is about 30 minutes longer, requires more ascent and descent and Coire Raibiert is quite steep, but is safer.

Once in the basin, work your way through the boulderfield by the Shelterstone then up a snowfield to the Carn Etchachan crag. The route starts at a diagonal shelf running up from the right hand side opposite a series of buttresses on the Shelterstone crag

Route Description

Route Major is one of the classic Cairngorm mixed climbs, 280m long on a remote crag with mixed face climbing.

Climb along the ramp for two easy (grade II) pitches (around 70m) until a thin, icy ledge/ramp leads back right through a wall just before the ramp steepens and becomes broken. By moving together for the last 20m you can avoid an intermediate belay.

Climb the ramp back right and go up a small snowfield to below a smooth, narrow chimney with a small chock-stone at the top. Grade IV, In-situ thread belay.

Back-and foot inside the chimney (good burried spike/thread runner on right) until you can move out to the left on a crack and continue up a ramp. Grade IV/5.

Now make a rising traverse for two long pitches up small chimneys to outflank some seriously steep "battlements". The second of these pitches has quite an exposed traverse with little gear.

One final hard (IV) turfy pitch up some thin grooves and a final short thuggish chimney leads to easy ground and the summit.

Essential Gear

Full Scottish winter climbing gear and Scottish Cairngorm mixed rack:
- medium to large wires
- hexes
- friends
- warthogs/drive-ins are useful as there is a lot more turf than in the Northern Corries.
- slings for spikes/threads

In good conditions when the cracks are clear of ice and snow, friends and wires can be used in abundance.

Bear in mind that this is a remote climb - returning over the plateau requries some tricky navigation in bad conditions.

Miscellaneous Info

If you have information about this route that doesn't pertain to any of the other sections, please add it here.