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Areas in Coire an t-Sneachda

Aladdin's Buttress 2 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 2 / 0 / 1 / 4 / 4
Mess of Pottage 1 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 1 / 0 / 0 / 1 / 1

Description

Coire an t-Sneachda is a large glacial cirque located on the northern slope of the Cairngorm plateau between Cairn Gorm and Cairn Lochain. Over 500 feet deep and nearly half a mile across, this craggy basin is home to over a hundred routes. Best known for its winter climbing, over the years crampon and axe wear has cleaned the rock, so the Coire is now a popular summer climbing destination as well. Its proximity to the car park and the quality and quantity of its routes make it an extremely popular venue and on any given day it may be the site of beginner winter skills courses, hard core mixed ascents, summer rock first ascents, and everything in between.

There are four main buttresses in the Coire; from left to right Mess of Pottage, Aladdin's Buttress, Fluted Buttress, and Fiacaill Buttress. All but Fiacaill are roughly north facing and receive little sun. The rock is good granite and the ice and snow are typically of good quality due to the elevation and the Coire's northern aspect. Avalanches are a danger here and precautions should be taken.

Getting There

Follow signs out of Aviemore for Cairn Gorm and the ski area. A roughly 10 mile drive from town will lead up a switchback slope to the free ski area car park. Walk across the low ridge bordering the right of the ski area until two cirques are visible, divided by a sharp ridge. The left hand cirque is Coire an t-Sneachda, and the right is Coire an Lochain. Follow the well-defined trail left at a split and up into the Coire floor. The walk is about two miles.

To descend: many parties descend the ridge left of the Coire on easy ground and follow the ski slopes down to the car park. Several of the gullies can be safely descended in poor conditions, as can either of the large snowfields at the corners of the Coire. Fiacaill Ridge, the sharp arete bordering the right of the basin, is also an option.

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