Cairngorm Lonelies

By Pete Rhodes

Cairngorm lonelies beckon, where solitude becomes a companion on the journey.

Before xmas I walked in to Corie an t’Sneachda to try and rope solo a route. It was raining and whiteout then and by the time I got to the base of The Message my head was elsewhere and I was fried. Cairngorm 1 – Pete 0.

Flash forward to Sunday just gone and I was an aching heap of flu curled in bed for most of the day with the couch as progress for a few hours. Sucky. Agressive Virus 1 – Pete 0.

However fresher on Monday and a good forecast for Tuesday meant that I was on my way to Aviemore at 7am on Tues morning. After a leisurely boot lacing and loo stop I walked out the car park just after 10. White out again but the headphones were blaring and confidence was a little higher. Back at the base of The Message, a route chosen for its lower grading and notoriously good gear, there was no reason not to tie in and find out. The whiteout in the corie making it all feel jolly lonely but generally calm.

Looking up at Pitch 1

My Winter belayer

Looking down from the crux

On the Crux!

No move by move here, I’m sleepy. The first pitch is easy. The belays for soloing are mediocre at best. The second pitch is non-stop fun with good gear where it matters and great holds on a surprisingly steep crux. The final snow ramp as the clouds cleared was fantastic. Abseiling back down it on a buried axe was less fantastic but required.

Hard to write down quite how much I enjoyed the time on the route. It got heady for a couple of brief sections but thats why we play right. As to why I wanted to sign off mildly arrogantly but with the cover of someones else’s words. When Scott Backes was asked ‘why?’ in his younger years he simply said ‘because others can’t.’ Unjustifiable perhaps, but concise.

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