I met a pal yesterday who was just back from climbing Squareface in the remote Cairngorms. It was lovely for Rachael to tell me of what a great day she had with her husband. I love hearing folk talk about places and the joy they had. It’s an impressive place whatever way you approach the climb. I really felt when Rachael spoke about “sitting on the belay and the views were incredible” . I can still see that same majestic view even years after I completed the climb. Looking back I was spoiled I did this climb so many times did I really appreciate where I was? She reminded me of the adventure to the route even by bike that makes this a hard fought route.
Route: Squareface Very difficult 330 ft An Garbh Coire Beinn A Bhuird from Classic Climbs.
First ascent T W Patey and J M Taylor July 1953.
I was lucky to have climbed in this remote Corrie on probably on a dozen occasions, twice in winter after a drop off by Sea King helicopter ( Cheating? ) For climber who loves seclusion this is the place to be. The Great remote Corrie of Garbh Mor only reveals its secrets to those who search it, two great buttresses are situated at the end of this face and this is where you will find Squareface. The book “Classic Rock” has for many opened the eyes of a few and many combine both Classic Routes on the Crag this climb and Mitre Ridge. I love Martin Burrows Smith Account in Ken Wilson’s Classic rock. I know what he means when he says” as I belayed on the summit I had an intense feeling of well being; the suns last rays glowed on the final Towers of Mitre Ridge” This is to me why we climb in a few words.
I enjoyed both routes so much I spent a lot of time on these climbs . I would often be thinking back to the first ascent on Squareface climbed by that incredible man Tom Patey & J.M. Taylor in July 1953. The army especially the Commandos trained and put up several climbs in this remote place.
This great wee route only 90 meters long ascends the steep slabby wall of the buttress. It combines continually exposed climbing and great situations. It drys quickly after rain but can be cold even in summer, but what a climb. Many leave their bags at the top and climb without! In the past I am sorry to admit we used to be allowed to drive on to the summit plateau as part of the Mountain Rescue. We did a few Rescues in this remote area with drop off by landrover up on the summit plateau. Nowadays the road has been returned to its natural state and the ground taken back by nature. No access is allowed on this sparse plateau by vehicles which is a good thing. Nowadays the big walk in can be assisted by Mountain bikes but it still is along day. A tent or use of the big boulders or the “secret howf” can make this a great weekends trip.
I am hoping to get in to the route one day once my chest is sorted . It will be a overnight visit to enjoy the area to often we have to flee due to time, we will wait and see what happens in a great place to be and at this time of year I was always wary if all the snow had gone from this high mountain cliff? Access could be fun if snow was hanging about below the route.
The climbing is typical of Cairngorm climbing and this route has everything. Coming out onto the sun onto the big plateau of Beinn A’ Bhuird after a climb can be incredible . Once when we did it the dog Teallach followed the rake up onto the plateau to meet us! A well known Aberdeenshire climber was soloing behind us when the rain came many years ago. He overtook us and we told him we had a land rover on the plateau I think he did not believe me at the time yet we gave him a lift back he did enjoy it. A few times had to navigate of the plateau in the wagon when the snow came!
You can see the route from the plateau and its wonderful to see folk on the climb it looks a lot harder than it is and the rock looks superb in any light. Please remember these are big cliffs, like the Alps loose rock is always possible as is changeable weather. Go and enjoy this an some of the other routes and if possible spend a night in this lovely place. Todays tip if cycling in get a rack and panniers its alot easier on your back.
Take nothing but photos leave nothing but footprints. Comments as always welcome.