Rock climbing
Deeside has an abundance of magnificent rock climbing of all grades on good quality clean granite. The numerous high mountain crags and corries require a long walk in and a period of settled weather before coming into condition, but provide superb long multi-pitch rock climbs in stunning locations. The Pass of Ballater is the only lowland sheltered alternative with its pink cliffs set amongst the pines, and is easily reached from the road. If the forecast is bad inland, head for the east or north coast, where the Aberdeen and Moray seas cliffs often escape the worst of any westerly weather and provide entertaining climbs above the sea.

Winter mountaineering
Some of Scotland's finest and most challenging snow/ice and mixed climbing can be found in Deeside, set high across the north, west and east-facing corries of the mountain plateau. Deep gullies, relative high altitude and their inland position assist snow holding through the season, whilst the renowned qualities of frozen turf, rime ice and glazed rocks make for a unique climbing experience. There are climbs to suit all tastes and standards though most require a good level of fitness and an early start particularly in the early winter months. It is difficult to forecast good winter conditions for ice climbing, as conditions change rapidly and vary from year to year. Routes can be condition as early as October and as late as April - seek local advice first.

Books on climbing in the area

  • Fyffe, Allen: Winter Climbs in the Cairngorms. Cicerone Press: England 2000 (www.
  • Howett, Kevin: Constable Guide: Rock Climbing in Scotland, 2001
  • Scottish Mountaineering Club Climbing Guide: Northeast Outcrops. SMC
    1994. See also Cairngorms vol. 1-2.
  • Scottish Mountaineering Club Guide: The Cairngorms Rock and Ice Climbs, vols 1- 2.
  • Scottish Mountaineering Club Guide: Scottish Winter Climbs, Nisbet and Anderson, 1996

Further information
In summer or winter, particularly under snow and ice cover, the mountains can be dangerous and it is essential to be well equipped, prepared and experienced for the route you are undertaking. Make sure you have a map and compass (and know how to use it), take spare clothes and food, and leave a route map with someone before you go out. After heavy snowfall the avalanche risk can be high, so before you leave, check with the Scottish Avalanche Information Service, to make sure the route you're planning is safe. For more information click here

For more information on walking, climbing cross-country skiing and mountaineering in Scotland click here

Useful Links

The Lairig Club


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