Archive for November, 2011

Amazing break in weather for Blabheinn; November 27th


A night of mad storms with smashed windows and huge garden items thrown around left my hopes about the weather clearing seeming hollow as dawn arrived. With torrential rain & gusts knocking us off our feet, we packed into the car and headed for Blaven; my most promising option in a norwesterly wind.

Brave grins as we set off.

Within minutes the sun came out and ony one tiny hail shower caught us all day.

Wet feet at the first river crossing.

There were still big gusts so I took an unusual option (for me) of following the hopefully sheltered, central gully between the 2 tops. I’ve always considered it a bit of a purgatorial scree treadmill but seemed worthwhile on the safety front.

Warming up as we head up Great Gully

You can make out 3 laid-back towers of rock just right of the scree slope in the photo above. I’d never explored them and was delighted to find the middle one gives a thoroughly entertaining line of good scrambling for us to play on.

Steep scrambling on sun-drenched rock!

Scrambling like this is the business; the normal thigh burning pain of flogging uphill is relieved by a 2-fold combination. Firstly a slower pace is enforced because you need to carefully choose the line & holds. Secondly the concentration on not falling off over-rides most other signals to the brain!

The final wee ridge of scrambling.

Lunch with a view

After a well deserved lunch break in the sun 5 minutes of loose scree warmed us all up well before the icy blast hit us at the top. The view was spectacular & I don’t seem to have been the only one very happy with our efforts!

A bevvy of Buckleys and a Burfday Jill on Blabheinn

The Black Cuillin seemed to have lucked with all the tops clear while not a single mainland peak could be seen.

Sun & snow with the South Top behind us.

The skies got darker as we descended; not just the fact that dusk was approaching but a perfectly timed return for the heavy rain once we were racing to the pub for a celebratory beer. Happy 21st Jill!

Winter’s back; Yeha! 25 November 2011


Beinn na Caillich above Broadford.

My book launch hangover was greatly eased by the sight of lots of fresh snow this morning right down below 1000ft. It’s been very heavy showers since lunch with driving sleet & hail at sea-level battering the windows.

Before you all pack your kit & come running up to try out your new guidebooks I should warn you about some warm pulses predicted between the cold snaps for the week ahead. These could work greatly to our favour if summit level reaches say 2 or 3 degrees but could equally strip all the glorious white stuff; we’ll have to see on a day by day basis.


Many thanks toeveryone who braved the wild weather to dive up to Portree last night. 45 folk on a Thursday night in November was a very fine effort and it was great to meet up with some old friends and make some new ones too. Many thanks in particular to Aros and the staff there, Donald, Dave & Lance. You can see what else is on at the Aros centre at

Book Launch Invitation. Portree, 24th November.

Apologies for the late notice. Anyone with an interest in the Cuillin is very welcome. I expect it will be just locally based folk but if you’re up here on holiday….


3, Luib

Isle of Skye.

November 2011



Scottish Mountaineering Club Cuillin Guidebook


You may be aware that the new SMC Guidebook to the Cuillin has finally been published and is now widely available. As the author, I will be giving an illustrated talk at 7.30pm in the Aros Centre, Portree on Thursday 24th November.


The talk will cover a broad spectrum including summer and winter climbing, history, geology, flora & fauna, Munros and tourism. The show will include images of the Cuillin from the book and also from my own collection.


In writing the book I have learnt a huge amount about these fantastic mountains. I hope to pass on some of the passion and the enthusiasm that the project has given me.


As someone with an interest in the Cuillin you may know others who have not have received this invitation. Please feel free to extend the invitation to them.


Signed copies of the book will be available in the foyer and the bar will be open from 7pm. The talk will begin at 7.30pm and last for about an hour followed by a chance to ask questions.


Yours faithfully,

Mike Lates


RSVP to allow us to be properly prepared. Either the above address, by telephone- 01471 822 116 or by e-mail;




About the book.





This book is written for climbers but will also be useful for any walkers and scramblers planning to visit the Skye Cuillin.


Full page colour photographs show the easiest approaches and descents to the Munros and other summits of these complex mountains. These are backed up with clear concise descriptions written by author and local mountain guide Mike Lates.


Introduction sections have specific Cuillin advice including weather, navigation and safety. The eight page history section details the first conquests right up to modern day achievements. Geology, local amenities and the environment are also covered.



Excellent Winter Traverse Video


Winter bivvy

Many thanks to Simon Richardson and his fantastic winter climbing site Scottish Winter. com for bringing a well composed 18 minute Cuillin video to my attention. You can read Simon’s comments and fim-maker Iain Young’s comments about the Traverse here or click direct on the video The Cuillin Ridge- A Winter’s Traverse

Bring it on!

Alps scenery.


There was a massive rockfall on the Dru this summer and Ann-Gibbs Jordan witnessed it whilst doing the Tour de Mont Blanc before she came over to the Cuillin. Here’s some pics she took; thanks Ann.

You can see the pale scar on the RHS of the Dru. Verte to the left.

Looking up the Leschaux Glacier to the Grand Jorasses.

Dent de Geant on the RHS; Grand Jorasse on the left.

I’ve also remembered that Ann was particularly sad to hear that here climbing hero Walter Bonatti had passed away while she was on the tour; she never met him but liked the coincidence that she was on one of Bonatti’s favourite mountains. RIP, Walter.

November Newsletter & Feedback


You can view our latest newsletter here

Many thanks for all the book orders that have come through already; they should be with you by Monday at the latest.

Some feedback- “Fantastic issue … especially with all the links to other photos of activities up there.” Pete B. USA

Hi Mike book looks great would luv signed copy.  You hauled me, ‘old man of Bolton’  along the Ridge about 3 years ago,  with 40 y.o. son Phil.  Highlight of my walking life!” Chris B.

I’ve been really enjoying the blog this year, checking in every couple of days. It’s making up for the fact I didn’t make it to Skye in 2011. I climbed with Gillian in 2010 along Pinnacle Ridge with my son Tom, then 15. A memorable day for both of us, and one that launched us into more technical rock climbing together (on local sandstone outcrops round here like Harrisons Rocks as well as indoor walls) … we’re planning to return, the whole family, in May 2012. I’d love to organise a winter adventure before then.” Rupert W.