The Black Crag – Creag Dubh -A short winter climb “Qui Qui”some steep rock and a grand wee hill.

Creag Dubh (A’ Chreag Dhubh — the black crag), 2350 feet, is a picturesque hill cut off from the rest of the Monadhliath (Am Monadh Liath — the grey mountain range) by Glen Banchor. It is prominent from Newtonmore and its name is the battle cry of the Clan MacPherson.

On its sheer slopes towards Lochan Uvie is Cluny’s cave where the chief of the MacPhersons hid safely for 9 years after Culloden in spite of a reward of Scots £11,000 offered for his capture, which in those days was a huge sum of money.

From all points of the ridge there are extensive views enhanced by the hill’s isolated position. Red deer, roe deer, sika deer (a species introduced from Japan) and wild goats are likely to be seen on the hill. . Note that there are some very steep cliffs (giving excellent rock climbing) on the south face. It was called “Creag Death “ by the troops as at the time many of the rock climbs were fairly bold for there day.

It is worth noting that the SMC refused to publish outcrop routes until the 1970’s despite this being a major crag. Some of the names given were not appropriate for these days.

The cliff has a wee gem in winter “Qui Qui” which was an old favourite of mine. We often climbed it at night when staying in Newtonmore a short climb roadside but interesting if the roads were blocked with heavy snow up to Cairngorm. It was usually wet and a bit of fun but could be serious as ice daggers would hang above at times. Best to climb it early morning or late at night before the crowds. It was a regular haunt for the RAF Rescue Teams in the past and another different venue for those tired after some long mountaineering routes in the Cairngorm. Some of the easier rock routes in winter like the Rib Direct could be plastered in snow and ice and a few of the greats of the era would be at the crag when the Cairngorm road was storm bound.

We also used the cliff for stretcher lowers and had some wild days here. The budding rock stars in the team got a few scares on the crag in summer and often a few epics developed. My pal Pam Ayers fell from a route called the Hill. It was a big fall involving a fast drive by me to Raigmore hospital as his Willian’s Harness had cut through his leg like a knife as he fell landing upside down a few feet from the ground. It was a horrible fall as I was on a route nearby called the Brute and saw it happen. The wound was huge and just missed a main artery he was a lucky boy. His partner Jock was not amused and wanted to complete the route.

I once did the route 4 times in one day on a RAF winter xstarting in great ice then as the sun hit the cliff a thaw would come. It was many troops first lead and the belays were always wet. Often if we were alone on the cliff we would abseil off speeding up the day. In all with a great view from the stances it’s a super place to be. I wonder with global warming if it will come in to condition again?

About heavywhalley.MBE

Mountain Rescue Specialist. Environmentalist. Spent 37 years with RAF Mountain Rescue and 3 years with a civilian Team . Still an active Mountaineer when body slows, loves the wild places.
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2 Responses to The Black Crag – Creag Dubh -A short winter climb “Qui Qui”some steep rock and a grand wee hill.

  1. Bruce says:

    I remember Pam falling that day. I have a photo of him afterwards

    Liked by 1 person

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