Several people have asked me for a topo of Creagan Cha-no, the recently developed winter cliff on Cairngorm. The photo shows the Anvil Buttress area, and a topo of the Arch Wall area will be covered by a second post. Full route descriptions can be found in the 2011 Scottish Mountaineering Club Journal that was published in December.
Creagan Coire Cha-no is an attractive little granite cliff tucked under the east flank of the Cha-no spur on Cairngorm overlooking Strath Nethy. The cliff faces east so it is best considered an early to mid season venue. It strips quickly when the sun rises high in the sky in March and April.
Cha-no is not a major crag, but it does have the distinction of being the most accessible winter cliff in the Cairngorms. It lies less than 2km away from the Coire na Ciste car park and the approach from the plateau via Recovery Gully (NJ017063) takes just over an hour. The cornice can normally be avoided on the left (looking down). The return is even quicker at about 45 minutes.
The crag is 70 metres high at its highest point, and sports 15 two-pitch routes, ranging from Grade II to VII. Most of the major features have been climbed, but there is potential for several shorter lines. With a cliff base of 950m, the routes come into condition early. Later in the season the cliff catches the sun, and some routes may bank out and have cornice difficulties. Cha-no provides a welcome alternative to the Northern Corries, with, a beautiful view and a ‘remote’ feel away from the hustle and bustle of the ski area.
The cliff is steeper than it looks, and (something of a novelty for a Northern Cairngorms crag), the cracks are very vegetated. The finest routes are Jenga Buttress (III,4) and Anvil Corner (VI,6) – both climbed on my first winter visit to the cliff with Sandy Simpson last November.