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