A great to be alive day in the Cairngorms – Jacobs Edge a fun day ! 

The weather forecast lived up to the promises and the MWIS weather was bang on. Steve Price arrived early and as always I am a nervous passenger as we drove across the Dava Moor on icy roads! Steve took it easy after a slippy  bend reminded him of the road conditions and the precious passenger me. I told him so he slowed down !
The road was fine but I am sure that it had not been gritted even though it was below freezing and we enjoyed the views and picked up Ned Kelly in Grantown On Spey.

A lovely morning

Ian is up from down South and Glenda dropped him of from a wild night in Forres and we were soon on our way to Cairngorm with stunning views of the mountains! It was very cold  on arrival on the car park and I put all the gear on when we arrived in a busy car park. There were so many climbers and walkers out for a great day! We met Ray Newall who was going walking and set off for the walk into the Corrie of the snows!

Looking into the Coire on a fine morning.

Looking into the Coire on a fine morning.

It was a grand walk in and the boys had taken the ropes for the old man and I had the gear! We took it easy on the walk in (old age )but love the views the crag was pretty bare but we would have fun on an easy mixed line. As always we chatted about past adventure over 30 years of winter Courses here racing into the cliffs – 6 routes in a day at times all so different now!

How great was it to be walking in after a few years of operations and pain now it was just magic to be here again. The wander up to the main cliff “The Mess of Pottage” through slippy boulders is always hard in early season and a young lad blasted by wondering who these old boys were! Eventually we made it to the foot of the cliff there was about 10 others there and Hidden Chimney was busy as were a few other climbs there was little snow but most were making great progress.

photo – Our line goes up 13 the Slant :Hidden Chimney and then up 15.

The Mess of Pottage  is a great mixed climbing crag and only climbed recently in the past 20 years! I wanted an easy climb to see how the body felt so we fancied a line Jacob’s edge a 120 metre route that is never busy and has so many variants. It was a great favourite for our RAF Winter course with the varying lines available and away from the crowds after the first pitch!

Photo below the route Jacobs Ladder gearing up!

There was a bit of ice and as we put on our gear and moved up then my crampon came off – shame and I battered my old knee much to Steve and Ned laughter! I had daftly never checked it was on properly and the strap was too slack – lesson learned! The boys took the Micky and my knee was battered then Steve told his tale of a crampon falling off on a big route the Wand and the epic that enthused. Severly chastened we continued.

At the first belay

At the first belay

Off we went and up joining the Slant and Hidden Chimney and met another group and then split up onto Jacobs Edge you can go wherever you want and despite the lack of snow it is a great situation! It was no problem as a few routes join here but there was no rush just enjoy these views.

Round the corner

Round the corner

From the belay you go round the corner meeting two other climbers who were on Hidden Chimney direct and then up on a short traverse along the Slant and then break up right to a great belay and away from the crowds.

Ned on the traverse.

Ned on the traverse.

From here there are so many choices and Ian took us up a tricky Chimney and I had a bit of fun on it battering my other knee while Steve laughed at my attempts ! Once safe Ian tied me off and I took so many photos of Steve in the chimney and  that is the great thing about being three on two ropes.

The chimney a bit battered on my knee.

The chimney a bit battered on my knee.

What a day it we had this cliff to ourselves and the axes were put away at times as we mixed climbed on the rock it was bitter cold but the views were outstanding as were the snow buntings that followed us up the climb ! They were after some food but no joy.

We had to be careful as at times there was loose rock about as is possible in early winter yet the turf was frozen and I spent time taking photos. We could see the lochans in the Corrie and hear the odd rock fall and the ridges were busy with walkers as were the shouts from other climbers on the main cliffs.  Anything goes on this type of climbing and it was great to see the knees being used by another climber on a wild route nearby.

Great rocky climbing on crampons go anywhere territory

Great rocky climbing on crampons go anywhere territory

Ned followed the rock up to another great belay and I had more fun taking so many photos. From here it was into the sun and out onto a short ridge. It had been pretty cold and we were so glad to see the sun.


We posed for photos the situation was specail I took so many and yet we took care and were soon on the plateau and into the sun!

Steve heading for the top

Steve heading for the top

My Iron bru bottle was frozen slush by now andwe sorted out the gear and took in the views they were incredible! No wind, sun and the Cairngorms looking their magnificent best and lots out enjoying this winter pleasure-dome!


We met two lads from Sheffield who had tried Patey’s route but they said the turf was not frozen so did the Runnel instead. We had a bit of banter as they winged about our roads after an all night drive poor souls. We met many more two runners and lots of walkers all out in this winters day.

At the top the boys took pity I gave them chocolate and they carried the ropes off. It was a great walk off the sun was setting and the colours magnificent !

We had fun in the slopes on the way off with the snow machine  and there were lots  of mountain bikers in out in the snow, changing days!

It was then down to the Rothiemurcus cafe for tea and scones and drop of Ned at Nethy Bridge just as it was getting dark. The drive home was fine and I was soon sorting out my gear and running a bath for my battered body .

It was an early night for me never even watched Match of the day to tired it was  a great day apart for the crampon problem – my own fault lesson learned check each other’s crampons.


Thanks to the boys for looking after me and for a great day .
This wee climb is a great introduction to this cliff and a shake up for winter. After the busy start it is good fun with so many ways to go just watch the loose rock early on in the season.

About heavywhalley.MBE

After dinner speaker Lecturer and Mountain Rescue Specialist. Environmentalist. Spent 36 years with RAF Mountain Rescue and 4 years with a civilian Team . Still an active Mountaineer and loves the wild places.
This entry was posted in Friends, Gear, Lectures, mountain safety, Mountaineering, Scottish winter climbing., Views Mountaineering, Weather. Bookmark the permalink.

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