We arrived at a very quiet car park at the Cairngorm ski centre. No skiing now apart from ski touring and I'm not even sure the train ran? We set off on the usual well worn path in Sneachda and had to take a very wide route around the now melting lochan to a point just below Aladdins Couloir, at which point a skier popped out at the bottom!
Our route was to be the 95m high Moderate - Pygmy Ridge, so we kicked steps (without crampons but an axe is still needed) across and up below the start of the winter route - Aladdins Mirror and up to the start of the winter route - Central Left Hand. The slabs below our route were still seeping and greasy so we stayed on the snow a little further up the gully before moving left back onto the rock.
The start of Pygmy Ridge is fairly obvious (in summer?), so we roped up and off we went! A very enjoyable route and despite a lowly moderate grade feels "big" because of the setting. There a several belay points if needed in little shallow niches in the ridge and it's best to complete the route by adding the little tower that comes at the end which pops out of the Couloir and a perfect place for lunch!
Pygmy Ridge is just right of centre of the picture. We had considered going up the gully (the start of Aladdins Mirror) which may have been slightly quicker (?) but intstead head right as per the route description.
Lorna heading up to one of the many belay points. The ridge is nice and "blocky" and there is a choice of lines, some harder than others. There were sevaral peices of left over gear "stuck" in various cracks that we tried in vain to get out!
Lorna topping out on the final little tower which we opted to move together on. The Fiacaill Ridge can be seen in the background.
Afterthought Arete 150m Moderate:
After a quick bite to eat we set off south over the plateau to drop down in Coire Dohmain on the left side of the stream that plunges steeply into Loch Avon. At about 870m (vague route description in book) we struck off east under the very wet Stag Rocks over rought ground to head for the south facing ridge of Afterthought Arete. Much like Pygmy Ridge, there are numerous belay points and you can make it as hard or as easy as you like. The route starts at the base of a scree/snow filled gully at a triangular slab (greasy when we were there) and then up to a short steep wall which can be avoided on the left. Then its mainly on the block spine of the ridge for the remaining 100m or more - narrow in places but on good grippy rock. As the ground eased off we again opted to move together before packing the gear away and heading north back over to 1141m and down to the ski centre.
Heading down the steep path into the Loch Avon Basin with Cairn Etchachan and Shelter Stone Crags on the right. Still some serious snow bridges over the stream on ther right to catch the unwary.
Would you walk over this?
Looking east down Loch Avon with Stag Rocks dripping with water on the left and Afterthought Arete just visible between Stag Rocks and the further ridge in profile (has a fallen block near its top).
Somewehere near the start of the route!
Higher up the ridge with another couple of climbers just in front of us.
Don't know where I am in this picture?