Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Afterthought Arete

 The upper parts of Afterthought Arete (Moderate***), Stag Rocks, Cairngorm.

So June has arrived and I've shelved my Skye Cuillin guidebooks again for a while, and my thoughts turn more and more to the granite cliffs and hill-running opportunities of the Cairngorms.

Something struck me yesterday. I've climbed dozens or hundreds of routes throughout the West and North-West Highlands by now…but of the 400 or so pages in the Cairngorms climbing guidebook, I've climbed routes on only 3 of them.

Looking to Coire an Lochain from Fiacaill a'Choire Chais

One of the ski-centre roads

This realisation has done nothing but excite me for the last 24 hours. There is so much to do around my new home, so many climbs and hills and mountains to discover for the first time. So what to climb for my first Cairngorm rock-route of the summer?
 Rough and clean rock on the route

Looking to the huge remaining snow-fields on Ben Macdui
 Sron na Lairige

It's a classic, Afterthought Areté. One of those ones I just hadn't got around to until this morning, but the thing I'm wondering now is…how and why did I leave it this long before climbing in the Loch Avon Basin for the first time? Even though today the light was poor and the weather not the best, my first impressions are that it is one of the most awe-inspiring places in Scotland.

The massive waterfall East of the Shelterstone Crag
A waterfall flowing under the snow-pack. The depth at the top of the break is about 20ft.

Stag Rocks

The constant deep roaring of distant waterfalls, the dripping of snow-melt everywhere, the vast snow-fields and crevasses, the mighty architecture of the Shelterstone Crag, the huge granite overhangs of Hell's Lum…this place has an overpowering sense of grandeur.

Looking up to Afterthought Atete
 The immaculate slabs of the Shelterstone Crag


Afterthought Areté delivered what I was after, an enjoyable laid-back solo and a "re-introduction" to climbing in the Cairngorms. Clean, exposed and rough rock in a magnificent location I'd never been to before, and an appetiser for the future.

A shrieking Peregrine falcon whizzed past at the speed of light. Would I see any reindeer today? It's a different world to the West Highlands, over here.


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