Any ideas on good easier mountain routes for folk wanting to climb on a mountain crag? Here’s a few of mine. I get asked this often from folks who have climbed on low level crags and want to expand their climbing into the mountains.
Tower Ridge – that classic on Ben Nevis on of the longest climbs on the mountain. As is Castle ridge a great introduction to a big mountain cliff.
Cairngorms – the classic Savage Slit – R.B.FRERE, K.A.ROBERTSON 1939.
80m, 4 pitches. 3 star. This is a classic climb. Once at the bottom of the climb there is an old piton about 3metres up in the rock to the left, either use this or solo up to the first real belay point 10m above. easy placements here and a good view of practically the whole climb. The crack/chimney above this is narrow but deep often going back 4m or more. There are good ledges and foot placements for most of the climb and an abundance of welded gear remains in the wall. Guides mostly split the rest of the climb into 3 pitches but the next 2 pitches are easily combined as one. All the belay points are perfect with wide ledges or chock stones in the crack. The last belay has two ledges 3 metres apart, since the crack veers of here this is a possible abseil point back to the bottom of Y gully.
The Cobbler –
Glencoe / Rannoch Wall – Agags Grove a classic place to climb Buachaille Etive Mor. This cliff is wonderful stunning rock architecture.
105m, 4 pitches. The most obvious feature on the face. Starting at the right hand side and moving up the rising groove.
Rannoch Wall is probably the most visited rock-climbing venue in Glencoe. Easily accessible from the road via a good path and with superb climbing on sound rock in a variety of grades there is literally something for everyone. It’s easterly aspect means that the steep face gets what little sunshine is available in the morning…
The face itself begins at an altitude of 800m and rises almost to the summit of the mountain. The most famous route on the face, Agag’s Groove is 99m in length and defines, more-or-less, the lower right-hand side of the face, being the most obvious feature (actually visible to the naked eye from Rannoch Moor). The face is bounded on the left (East) by Easy Gully and Curved Ridge which is the normal descent route for climbers.
Agag’s Groove 99m VDiff
A defining line on the crag, the groove is the obvious line of weakness running from bottom right to the top-centre of the wall. The route is particularly easy on pitches 1 and 2 but the final two pitches are spectacularly exposed for such a technically easy route.
The belay after pitch 2 is a particularly fine place for a picnic however it is a shared belay (with January Jigsaw (S ***) so it can become crowded.
North West Cioch Nose Applecross a mountain route near the road pretty unique for Scotland. One of my favourite routes done it many times it never lets you down. 200m, 7 pitches. An absolute belter of a climb which is best done as part of the A’ Chioch Ridge continuation. Add a few long slings to a light rack. Park at the Bealach na Ba viewpoint and head for the obvious mast. Just short of the summit head east and take the steep path down into Ciore a’ Chaorachain. Gain Middle Ledge by scrambling up A’ Chioch gully for 40m and then right onto a path, the start of the route is 20m past a series of low roofs and starts at an offwidth crack. Pitch 1 (30m, 4a) climb the offwidth and then over some bulges trending left to avoid the small roof, climb a fine corner to a ledge and a choice of belays. Pitch 2 (20m, 4a) thrutch up the awkward corner at the far end of the ledge. Exit right and climb easier ground to reach a thread belay on the one of the best ledges you’ll find in Scotland. Pitch 3 (40m, 4a) traverse right for 3m, enjoying an intermediate amount of exposure, and then up, past a peg runner, climb a series of horizontal breaks trending slightly left towards a chimney. Climb and exit this on the right onto another large ledge with an excellent thread belay. Pitch 4 (30m) go to the far end of the ledge (CN scratched on the rock) and climb a superb, but short-lived layback. Go right around the bulge and take the easiest line up to a chossy ledge and boulder belay. Pitch 5 (20m) scramble easily up and left over blocks to the false summit to a choice of huge belays. Head towards the formidable-looking ridge continuation by dropping down the neck and taking the surprisingly easy to follow path up huge blocks towards the well defined crack in the steepest section of the ridge. Avoid going left past the large gully. Pitch 6 (30m) climb the slab about 10m to the left of the large crack with an awkward move at half-height, to a comfortable thread belay. Pitch 7 (30m) climb up, trending right to easy ground and a choice of solid belays. Delightful scrambling over/around several false summits gets you back to the mast. What a route.
Beinn Eighe – Central Buttress East Buttress a big walk in but what a place to climb.
Skye – Cioch West – severe
215m, 7 pitches. P1-There are 2 spike belays, one @ 40m and one @ 50m
The Off-width description on p2 is mis-leading. A better description is- “P2 Continue up the groove for 20m to reach a huge flake on the RHS. Traverse up and right across the face of the flake (bold) to reach blocks in the crevasse above. Easily traverse 10m right to a grassy ledge.
P4- After the crux traverse it saves a lot of contortions to continue above the ledge up the steep wall mentioned as the start of P5. A good alloy peg (in situ) is well placed to allow belaying back in view of the crux.
Followed completely the route ends on the Cioch by Cioch Nose rte. Those wanting to climb Arrow Route should traverse left (30m) after the long easy section of scrambling described as a variation to p7
Dorothy Pilley, Carr & Holland 1919.
Arran / Sou’wester slabs The walk in from Glen Rosa in Arran shows this cliff at its best. I saw it first aged 5 with my Dad on an ascent of Cir Mor. I always wanted to climb here and have many times. The rock is granite rough and hard on the hands. The cliff is full of classic climbing. Most of the routes are incredible and part of the history of this place.
110m, 5 pitches. It is listed in Classic rock
The granite has extremely good friction and you can smear anywhere. the first pitch follows Fourth route until you reach an open chimney on the right (50 meter pitch). Go up the open chimney (gently traveling as you go) to a corner the down climb on a couple of hidden footholds. follow the crack line up under the large overhang to a goo peg belay (50 meter pitch). Traverse under the overhang and around the corner to the triple chimney (this is where congestion can happen as just below this point there is a belay that is for several other routes) climb up the triple chimney pulling over an awkward block and belay (25 meters). follow the obvious faulting upto a block belay (25 meters). Scramble up the blocky steps to the grass ramp. I would recommend that you carry alternate footwear as I wouldn’t recommend wearing rock boots for the decent.
G H Townsend, G C Curtis, M J H Hawkins, H Hore 03/Sep/1944.
There are so many other routes – like Hells Lum crag in the Cairngorms and some great adventures in the Loch Avon area.Square face and Mitre Ridge on Beinn A Bhuird. Lots of grand climbs in Glencoe like Crypt Route and the Clachaig Gully. In Arran some brilliant climbing South Ridge Direct. Skye has so many climbs Integrity and Crack of Doom. We are spoiled for choice with rock of a types granite, gabbro. Schist and the sea cliffs and of course the sea stacks.
So there is a few ideas I would love to hear yours ? It’s wonderful getting climbers out on mountain crags of course you have to be more aware of loose rocks and route finding. This is all part of the mountain game. I wish I was out more often I never tire of these routes and have plans for the Cairngorms, Ben Nevis, Glencoe and Skye “God willing.”
Comments as always welcome.
Lower your grade until you get comfortable, everything is usually a bit dirtier and wetter than you’d expect. On the flip side, mountain crag routes are some of the best there are! Andy Wolfstone
Classic Rock – See Ken Wilson’s “Classic Rock” for further details 🤤👍 Steve G. A great book and what a list of recommended climbs.
Best advice? Don`t climb with idiots, that can get you killed. Paul R
G Stamp – Read the guide book route description thoroughly beforehand so that you already have it in your brain . Don’t make pitches too long or be tempted to climb past the ideal belay and stance thinking that you can combine 2 into1. Doing that could increase rope drag, possibly run out of runners even run out of rope. Even consider splitting pitches into 2.
Ally – Read the reviews and always be aware that double pitching might just save you effort time or in my experience in past kit. Know the place and reccy before committing and don’t think you know it all. You never do.
Climb with someone you’ve been climbing with before and feel comfortable in their company. You will both know one another’s strength and weakness. Especially if communication is difficult on routes. P. Cauldron.
Good points especially going with a companion you know and trust. No matter who you climb with check the belay and your gear. It’s so easy to make a mistake.