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Guiding may be possible later this summer.

29/05/20

Friday 29 May 2020 is the first day of a cautious loosening of lockdown measures in Scotland.

If the staged plan works as well as hoped there may be scope for mountain guiding to begin again around the start of August 2020, in line with phase three declared by the Scottish government.

In preparation for this Skye Guides are tentatively opening their diary to take bookings. With so many unknown factors there are provisos that need to be in place for this to happen. The list below is not exhaustive but will help all of us see what is possible and where more work needs to be applied.

The guidelines below may appear overly cautious, but we feel it is the only responsible way in which we can justify our part in opening up tourism. Social distancing must be maintained to protect you, the guide and the communities of Skye and Scotland. You will be asked to complete a form disclosing your pandemic social distancing history.

Incoming visitors are the danger to the local population. Please do not lower your guard just because you are away from home.

We have a responsibility to treat this access to the mountains as a privilege for both play and work. There is likely to be a need for all of us to be flexible and accept a greater degree of improvisation for this to work. 

Bookings for remainder of 2020.

Client and guide social distancing

– this will be the primary safety factor against Covid 19. Our clients will be expected to be free of symptoms of Covid 19 and not to have been asked to isolate as part of the Trace and Protect Scheme. If there is any doubt, right up to the day of the booking we will err on the cautious side and cancel the outing with a full refund. We hope that you understand this. The danger of spreading the virus is very real and Skye Guides does not want to encourage and facilitate this at such a crucial stage of the pandemic.

Initially we are only accepting private bookings for individuals or members of the same household.

Unfortunately this will exclude many who are used to walking and climbing with regular partners from outside their own household. This is to follow the latest Scottish Government Guidance and we will review as this updates.

A maximum guiding ratio of 1:2 will be used for all but the simplest of Cuillin routes.

Full refunds will be given to any client that has to cancel their course in order to self-isolate.

Travel to Skye should be in privately-owned vehicles only. All advised precautions must be adhered to on the journey in terms of shopping and other communal venues. This will exclude use of public transport were prolonged exposure to the virus via strangers is a real threat.

Accommodation on Skye

Accommodation should be arranged before travelling to Skye. There is likely to be great pressure on accommodation providers so please be grateful for any solution you are offered. Our own climbers’ hostel will not be open because of the complications of social distancing. Wild camping may well see a resurgence in popularity.

Clients and guides should stay in accommodation that avoids close contact with others, taking advised precautions such as wearing of face masks and frequent washing of hands in line with any government advice. 

Client and guide will travel in separate vehicles to the venue.

Practicalities on the activity-

If client and guide have adhered to social distancing since the start of the pandemic these extra measures will add another layer of safety against catching Covid 19. This does not lower their importance.

A face mask should be worn for any close interaction between client and guide. Hand sanitiser should be carried and used whenever a piece of kit is to be transferred between guide and client. All our equipment will be decontaminated between uses as recommended by equipment manufacturers.

Kit- you will be issued with a comprehensive kit list that should be packed and ready to set off. Any questions regarding kit should be discussed with the guide the evening beforehand.

Safety equipment supplied by Skye Guides- Your ruck sack should have sufficient space for a helmet and harness to be packed inside so that the guide can demonstrate how to do this from a safe distance at the rendezvous. Our kit will be collected, disinfected and cleaned at the end of each booking.

Fitting helmets, harnesses and tying onto the rope can all be demonstrated at a safe distance by the guide and done by clients themselves. A visual check can also be done at a safe distance. Guides should consider tying the knots themselves and clipping clients rather than teaching knot tying.

If you are planning to use your own harness or helmet, Skye Guides will not be able to inspect these items for defects without risk of contamination. You must do so at entirely your own risk and we would recommend you only use safety equipment provided by Skye Guides.

More precarious situations-

Guides should anticipate these and advise wearing of facemasks well in advance. Use of cows-tails (safety lanyards) will allow a safe degree of distancing in most situations. All clients should be instructed and happy to clip and unclip these without the guide’s assistance. Arranging abseils and loading client belay plates may involve closer proximity. Minimising time in these situations and awareness of the precautions should be priority.

Cuillin Ridge Traverses

A number of factors will make a successful Traverse even more difficult but we will try to overcome these if at all possible. This is likely to include the guide biviing away from you and you having to carry and handle all your own bivi equipment – especially food and drink. E.g. you will not be able to share any stoves.

Emergency situations and mountain rescue.

“The Scottish mountain environment is always potentially dangerous”. Signing our booking form means that clients acknowledge this and are willing to accept some responsibility. However, we have a duty to minimise our reliance on external help from other climbers and mountain rescue teams even more than usual during this pandemic.

It is strongly recommended that those who know they lack confidence, strength or balance think twice before booking a guide at this time. Vetting of clients and advising about their suitability for an outing is normal procedure. Please do not be offended if we advise you against booking.

Poor weather- our guides will be encouraged to add extra caution to plans in bad weather. We normally cancel very few bookings but, in these unique circumstances, there will be a refund system clearly stated in our conditions should the guide decide that an outing is just not possible on a safety basis. Our clause to offer “a suitable alternative activity” will still apply if we feel that the alternative activity is considerably safer.

Guides will carry some additional PPE against Covid transmission in first aid kits and any emergency will be dealt with as professionally as ever. Self-sufficiency and extricating ourselves from emergency situations without calling for help is normal. Clients should be aware that calling for the services of the local MRT will not be an automatic response unless really needed. You will be expected to carry your own small first aid kit to deal with any blisters or ongoing medical issues as the guides will not be able to help with these without breaking social distancing.

 

I have posted this to keep our clients, guides and other mountaineers updated with our current thinking. It is far from complete so your suggestions  are welcome. Please get in touch by e-mail to mike@skyeguides.co.uk if you would like to make a booking or discuss any particular aspects.

Please remember that the main priority, as ever, is safety. Climbing in the Cuillin is a privilege, not a right. Thank you!

 

Skye Winter Climbing Festival 2017

12/01/17

This year’s festival has started in great style.

P1030200

Leaving Skye Basecamp this morning; snow arrived right on cue and right to sea-level.

Sgurr a Bhasteir was quite black looking as we approached but there was some ice in the foot of Mike The Bhasteird.P1030204

 

It soon became too thin so I took to the blunt rib on the left, and just in time! The heavens opened and I watched a waterfall of snow pummel down the groove on my right. Some really good moves (with enough gear to be fun) led to the ledge at 40m and Pok followed with style.

P1030208

 

Pok led on and coped well with the terrain and fierce stinging hail and gusting wind to find a semi-hanging stance below a final steep wall.

P1030219

 

By the time we got down our sacks had nearly been buried P1030221

 

The joys continued on the walk-out with amazing light and the mists rolled away.

P1030231

 

And Sgurr a’ Bhasteir had transformed into Snow White. Our line is marked in red and is called Formali Known As. 90m IV,4

Thank you for all the support and help in 2016.

07/01/17

october-dreams-WEBPhoto courtesy of James Nichols-  www.jcheynne.com

 

2016 has been monumental in many, many ways.

In our own little world Skye Guides has expanded considerably. The number of guided days reached a total well in excess of 500. Over 1000 clients were involved in 200+ ascents of the In Pinn and 30+ successful Cuillin Ridge Traverses. An enormous thanks to clients who trust our company so much and to the incredible team of guides that make these dreams come true. Gillian, Rich, Iain, Jamie, Niels, Tamsin, Caspar, Mike, Steve, Karen, Scott. Rory, Lou, Ollie, Jonny, Andy, Iain and Emma.

Inn pin with Ciara Oct 16photo courtesy of Gillespie Macdonald

Much of my year was spent developing Skye Basecamp.  Creating a hub of climbing knowledge and information on Skye has been in plans for many years. Basecamp is a dedicated climbers’ hostel and realising this part of the ambition feels like a massive step in the right direction.

Huge amounts of work were put in by friends old and new to finally allow us to open in August. Apologies to anyone I miss but thank you Catriona, Lucy, Beth, Annmarie, Tansy, Kieron, Ianto, Beads, Pete, James, Tom, Derek, Conor, Lachlan, Elanor, Mike, Faith, Chris, Helen, Remus, Bob, Jim, Jancis, Alan, Morgan, Nick, Ru & his mates, Innes, Ben, Uncle tom Cobbly n all….

kitchen3

We were busy from the outset and are managing to stay open right through this our first winter. Highlights are hard to select but the new kitchen inspired a series of visitors to get baking and cooking; the aromas as you come in the front door are superb.

Rendezvous at Basecamp gave a chance for guides and clients to discuss the days routes over an extra coffee whilst looking out at Broadford Bay vista.

Dawn Oct

Much has been made of what a mad world we became in 2016 and few of us are likely to be unaffected. What can be sure is that Skye and the Cuillin will continue show us what a wonderful world we do have around us.

Slainte Mha, Mike

 

Skye Winter Climbing Festival 2017. New format- #skyewinterfest on tour!!

28/11/16

 

Week 1- Skye Basecamp Climbers’ Hostel, Broadford. January 12th to 15th

Week 2- Waterfront Bunkhouse, Old Inn Carbost. January 16th to 23rd 2017

Bonus facility- Access and beds in the newly refurbished Glen Brittle Memorial Hut throughout.

An open invitation to climbers, walkers and any others with an interest in the Skye mountains in winter.

It’s that time again. 2 weeks for climbers to meet up, climb together and enjoy the post-match analysis. The Cuillin truly take on their Alpine status in winter and offer climbing and scenery like nowhere else in Britain. We’re not expecting anyone to come for the whole fortnight but there is a whole lifetime of adventures to be had.

Angus, Ally, James, Spence & Brutus from the Old Inn

Booking

If you’re interested in joining us just e-mail mike@skyeguides.co.uk. We’ll send you a booking form to complete with your climbing grade, Cuillin experience, and details to help with lift sharing.

Bed reservations will need to be paid for but, if you are unsure if you can make it, we can also let you know how busy the different nights are looking.

Background information.

For the past 6 years staff and close friends of Skye Guides have held an informal winter meet that has seen high levels of activity including over 50 new winter routes. Over the years only 12 days out of 50 have seen no activity so come keen and you’ll get rewards.

Guests have come from far and wide as well as a strong local representation each year. The apres-climb is embraced wholeheartedly (interpret as you like); just choose a level that doesn’t stop the climbing! The festival has allowed us to meet some amazing people and hear about some incredible adventures.

The Climbing

Over the past 6 years we’ve well untruly blown the myth of the Cuillin being a poor option for winter climbing right out of the water. In 2016 Skye was THE place to be with Traverses happening for over 4 weeks and legendary ice routes seeing their first repeats in 30 years! There is a whole mountain range of possibilities from hard-core mixed to truly alpine mountaineering.

Takin it all in

It’s not all high-brow climbing with many parties enjoying the magnificence of the snow-clad Cuillin from the corries, easy peaks and the coast-line. There’s Neist or Elgol for rock climbing and we’ve got some dry tooling crags developed. Even skiing and boarding have been growing in popularity over the past few seasons.

Last year’s festival had a superb first week with plenty of action. Week 2 turned tropical but those who hung around still got out for some quality adventures.

What’s to do?

If you’re unfamiliar with what Skye has to offer check out any winter blog posts or an article on “The New Cuillin” for plenty of ideas.

Accommodation and Food

On Tour!

This year we are splitting the festival between the new climbers hostel, Skye Basecamp in week 1 and then moving to the Waterfront Bunkhouse at the Old Inn for week 2. Beds and and facilities will also be available in the newly refurbished Glen Brittle Memorial Hut right at the foot of the Cuillin.

Beds cost £15 per night in any of the 3 venues.

Catering 2017-

kitchen3Self-catering in the well-equipped kitchen or eat in a variety of pubs in Broadford or next door in the Old Inn during week 2. There will be 2 big communal evening meals on the Saturday of each weekend at a cost of £10pp. Not sure what we’ll go for but local venison steaks, genuine french fondue and full roast dinners have been the norm. Please join us for these meals and let your hair down!

Costs

Attending the festival is free. Accommodation costs £15 per night for a bed and Saturday evening meals will cost £10.

Evenings

This is very much a climbing event not a film festival but, over the years we’ve had illustrated talks on a variety of climbing trips and watched videos. Guests are welcome to bring anything from musical instruments to their own climbing snaps.

The Old Inn probably the best pub in Carbost

 Social media

Please keep up to date through the Skye Winter Festival facebook page and retweet news using this shortened URL#skyewinterfest. Add your own photos to the facebok page and make sure that privacy settings allow everyone to see them please.

FAQ

Got your own campervan– You’re still welcome to join us for climbing & socially.

Last minute climber– We’re quite used to this scenario and happy for you decide to join us last minute. Keep in touch about bed space.

Unsure?– The addition of weekend skills symposiums will offer a cheap way to have professional advice and leadership. Don’t worry if you don’t know th Cuillin- many of the Winter Festival regulars know the Cuillin very well, especially those who work here as guides. We’ll be offering route advice and information on the ground but, on the whole, it’s a non-working meet for us and we’re here to play like everyone else. A list of attendees is circulated before the meet with details of their experience & depth of Cuillin knowledge. Through the meet walking and climbing teams slot into place after making acquaintances.

Guiding– Although officially this is a playtime for the guides  private guiding will be available on request.

Travel– Let us know where you’re coming from and whether you want to share lifts.

A new dawn- Skye Basecamp

05/10/16

Dawn over Broadford Bay yesterday.

 

Many apologies for letting the blogging slip this season but here’s the project we’ve been working on. Many thanks to everyone for their help and support which has been overwhelming.

SKYE BASECAMP- accommodation for lovers of the great outdoors.

Skye Basecamp Climber’s Hostel is now open in Broadford and available for booking.

We welcome everyone but we do want this to be a facility for walkers, climbers and outdoor lovers. In order to create this we are publicising first to guiding clients past & present, climbing friends and mountaineering clubs. Please feel free to share our news around; thanks.IMG-20160823-01121

 

SPECIAL OFFER FOR EARLY BOOKERS

We have some special offers on for just a few more days- book 3-5 days and get your last bed-night free or 10% off booking a whole room. Just click on the availability calendar for Skye Basecamp

WHY STAY WITH US AT SKYE BASECAMP?

  • The business is owned and run by Mike & Catriona who run Skye Guides, so you can expect the same high quality of service.

 

  • 30 brand new beds in a selection of private rooms and small dormitories (max 6 per room) with linen provided.

Basecamp beds

  • Prices from £20 per bed and private rooms from £90 per night.

 

  • 800 litres of pressurised hot water for 6 showers.
  • Large open plan kitchen/dining room with all the facilities and appliances you can want for self-catering.Skye Basecamp (3)
  • High efficiency drying room.
  • Large living room and conservatory with pool table looking out over the stunning vista across Broadford Bay.IMG-20160827-01150
  • Just one minute’s walk from the centre of town with the supermarket, 4 pubs and numerous quality places to eat out right on your doorstep.
  • Staffed full time and open all day ( but room check-out 10am & check-in after 4pm).
  • Open all year round.
  • The whole building is available for private group bookings; ideal for club meets, conferences or running courses
  • The guides room is reserved for our guiding staff through the summer season. They will be on hand much of the time to advise on routes and conditions.

    BOOKING-

    Booking on-line through the Skye Basecamp website will show all beds and rooms available.

    Look forward to seeing you all soon, Mike & Catriona
    www.skyebasecamp.co.uk is part of Skye Guides Limited.

Telephone 01471 820 044

REVIEWS so far-

Great base to explore Skye. Bunkhouse is fantastic, great showers, comfy beds, kitchen facilities are really good and most importantly really friendly and helpful staff. HC 19/09/16

The Skye Basecamp hostel is brand new and excellent for climbers or outdoor minded people. The showers are excellent, so are the beds. There is a large common area with a big kitchen. From the front you have a great view over the bay!
PS: great hospitality:) JK 28/9/16

Stunning vistas, handy location, good wifi, good drying room plus they’ve nailed the perfect atmosphere for people who enjoy the hills. RP 17/09/16

DSCN2760-250x188 Skye Basecamp (6)

Mega conditions continue. 3rd March update.

03/03/16

Ice above 700m has survived well by the look of things today so last weeks classics should all be in this weekend.
Some fresh snow but nothing like quantities I’m hearing about elsewhere. Effect on the Traverse is probably harder work for the first party again but still full nick & highly achievable by a fit team; what is the running total for this season so far???

For those who didn’t gather last week and weekend saw the best all round Cuillin conditions I’ve ever known. Plenty of Traverses over the weekend 20/21.
Beads and I got finally (tried 3 times beforehand) got the 2nd ascent of White Wedding on Tues 23rd with superb ice. By Saturday this was soloed by Andrew Barker on the 4th ascents.
Andrew climbed West Buttress of Bidean @ II/III earlier in the week. Andy Nisbet & Ssandy Allan climbed a line on the Coruisk side of the Pinn on Friday and another called SkyeFall at IV,5 on Sunday 28th.
Uisdean & Adam Russel climbed NE Gully on Mhiccoinnich with Guy Robertson who got the meaty pitch at V,6 and they all climbed another obvious line beside Practice crag at IV that afternoon.
I took to the air from the top of the icicles on Icicle Factory on Thursday after 3 superb approach pitches.; annoyed but now happy to be unscathed. Skye boys James Sutton, Ben Wear & John Smith finally got the 2nd ascent narrowly beating Uisdean, Adam & Douglas Russell. More than a consolation was the parallel line of Spectacula VI,6. The teams then swapped routes and James even tried to complete the trilogy with the Smear but found it brittle & wet. Thanks for retrieving my gear guys.- http://www.ukclimbing.com/images/dbpage.html?id=272086
Scott Webster & Yanis indulged in a sunny Traverse over the weekend while Anna Wells was back for another single day effort. Having to break trail they stopped short of the end but loved the experience anyway. Other teams also enjoyed but failed to complete with route-finding, exposure and general speed cited- great route but don’t underestimate how hard it is!
Escape from Colditz III is recorded as climbed and I’m sure there was plenty more I’ve missed.
Oh yep; Team Neil Adam & Silver climbed HDQ on Am Bastier on Sunday in ace conditions; it appears to be panning out at VIII,9 and uber classic.
Sounds crowded? An average of 1 team per corrie so not really Come & get it while you can cos looking warm from next Wednesday.

Photo credits to Lucy Spark, Scott Webster, Yaris Volmer.

 

IMG_1414 (2) IMG_1487 (2) IMG_1402 P1110820 P1110947 P1110997 DSCN8150 P1210223 DSCN8141 IMG_1521 LINED IMG_1510 (2)

Return of the Skye Winter Climbing Festival.

11/11/15

Skye Winter Climbing Festival 2016

Waterfront Bunkhouse, Old Inn Carbost. January 14th to January 27th 2016

An open invitation to climbers, walkers and any others with an interest in the Skye mountains in winter.

It’s that time again. 2 weeks for climbers to meet up, climb together and enjoy the post-match analysis. The Cuillin truly take on their Alpine status in winter and offer climbing and scenery like nowhere else in Britain. We’re not expecting anyone to come for the whole period but there is a whole lifetime of adventures to be had.

Background information.

For the past 5 years staff and close friends of Skye Guides have held an informal winter meet that has seen high levels of activity including over 40 new winter climbs. Only 5 days out of 34 have seen no activity so come keen and you’ll get rewards.

Guests have come from far and wide as well as a strong local representation each year. The apres-climb scene is embraced wholeheartedly (interpret as you like); just choose a level that doesn’t stop the climbing! The festival has allowed us to meet some amazing people and hear about some incredible adventures.

fonduefest 2Romain’s Fondue-fest 2013

 

The Climbing

Over the past 5 years we’ve well untruly blown the myth of the Cuillin being a poor option for winter climbing right out of the water. There is a whole mountain range of possibilities from hard-core mixed to truly alpine mountaineering.

 Foxes RakeAlly on Foxes Rake III

It’s not all high-brow climbing with many parties enjoying the magnificence of the snow-clad Cuillin from the corries, easy peaks and the coast-line. There’s Neist or Elgol for rock climbing and we’ve got some dry tooling crags developed. Even skiing and boarding have been growing in popularity over the past few seasons.

Last year’s festival was a resounding success with over 60 people enjoying superb winter conditions that spanned the whole 16-day period. It was undeniably hardcore on the majority of days and some got luckier than others, but people were out every day climbing more than 50 routes including 20+ first ascents.

Approaching Twicicle on the very wild “Black Friday”, 2015 Festival

How does it work?

Nothing complex- Come for as many days as you want. There are beds for 24 people available throughout the fortnight; first come first served. Use the meet as a base for climbing with a regular partner or come and match up. Collectively we make sure that nobody is left partnerless, short of inspiration or too far out of their depth.

What’s to do?

If you’re unfamiliar with what Skye has to offer check out any winter blog posts or an article on “The New Cuillin” for plenty of ideas.

Booking

If you’re interested in joining us just e-mail mike@skyeguides.co.uk or call telephone Mike on 01471 822 116. Bed reservations will need to be paid for but, if you are unsure if you can make it, we can also let you know how busy the different nights are looking. We’ll get you to complete a booking form with your climbing grade, Cuillin experience, and details to help with lift sharing.

Accommodation and Food

The festival is based at the Waterfront Bunkhouse at the Old Inn. 24 beds in 5 different rooms with bunkbeds and bedding provided. The accommodation has a spacious lounge with TV or there’s the pub next door.

Catering 2016- different this year!!

Self-catering in the well-eqipped kitchen or eat from the pub’s superb menu. There will be 2 big communal evening meals on the Saturday of each weekend at a cost of £10pp. Not sure what we’ll go for but local venison steaks, genuine french fondue and full roast dinners have been the norm. Please join us for these meals and let your hair down!

Costs

Attending the festival is free. Accommodation costs £15 per night for a bed and Saturday evening meals will cost £10.

B&B

The Old Inn will be open for business and private rooms will be available for those wanting a bit more privacy and peace. Please contact them directly- Old Inn

Evenings

fonduefest

Over the years we’ve had illustrated talks on a variety of climbing trips and watched videos. Guests are welcome to bring anything from musical instruments to their own climbing snaps. The Old Inn is the climbers’ pub in Skye but also a busy local. It’s a lively spot with organised bands and impromptu jamming.

The Old Inn probably the best pub in Carbost

New for 2016- Skills symposium

Following a suggestion from guests last year some of our guides have committed a couple of days to specifically pass on their knowledge and skills. Limited places are available on a variety of full-day courses over the 2 festival weekends. Request more details when booking your place in the bunkhouse:-

  • Introduction to winter walking skills; 6 places per course. Suitable for walkers with good fitness but little winter experience. £50pp
  • Cuillin Winter Munros; 6 places per course. Suitable for fit winter climbers or walkers. £50pp
  • Dry Tooling skills; 4 places per course. Low-level; £50pp
  • Alpine rope skills for Cuillin ridges in winter; 4 places per course. Suitable for climbers or winter walkers of good fitness. £60pp
  • Mixed climbing skills; 2 places per course. Suitable for those with some pitched winter climbing experience. £80pp

Every effort will be made to achieve the course objectives but the mountains are in charge! Full refunds will be given if it is not possible to run the courses. Please just ask if you would like private guiding at any other point in the course.

 Social media

Please keep up to date through the Skye Winter Festival facebook page and retweet news using this shortened URL#skyewinterfest. Add your own photos to the facebok page and make sure that privacy settings allow everyone to see them please.

FAQ

Got your own campervan– You’re still welcome to join us for climbing & socially.

Last minute climber– We’re quite used to this scenario and happy for you decide to join us last minute. Keep in touch about bed space.

Unsure?– The addition of weekend skills symposiums will offer a cheap way to have professional advice and leadership. Skye Guides normal private guiding will be available throughout. Don’t worry if you don’t want to book anything- many of the Winter Festival regulars know the Cuillin very well, especially those who work here as guides. We’ll be offering route advice and information on the ground but, on the whole, it’s a non-working meet for us and we’re here to play like everyone else. A list of attendees is circulated before the meet with details of their experience & depth of Cuillin knowledge. Through the meet walking and climbing teams slot into place after making acquaintances.

Travel– Let us know where you’re coming from and whether you want to share lifts.

Andy Kirkpatrick coming to Skye

06/11/15

We’re privledged to have the prolific climber, writer, (comedian?) Andy Kirkpatrick coming to Skye at the end of the month on his Cold Mountain tour. I’ve never met him or been to his talks but a recent video on UKC confirmed what I’d heard.

“He’s a great speaker, mainly because he realises that climbing is really boring to anyone who wasnt there at the time, and even if you were there half of it is boring.”

Anyway, the details-

WHEN?- Friday November 27th, 7.30pm

WHERE?- Aros visitor centre, Portree

TICKETS COST- £12 and £9. Buy them from Aros.

 

Andy Kirkpatrick in Yosemite, 168 kb

Winter Munro bagging in June

02/06/15

I’ve seen some hefty snow-flurries in June before but never a complete coating down below 600m. This mad weather just continues to amaze, frustrate but also give superb entertainment in the form of mountaineering challenge.

Angela wanted to climb Sgurr Alasdair because it is the name of her eldest son; preferably before he climbed it himself! Normally a fairly safe bet, especially in June, I had quite serious doubts as we met at Sligachan and saw quite how much snow there was.

We did suceed but only after a serious winter climbing expedition; would happily have graded it as III with crampons & axes!P1060732

Sgumain stone shoot. 

 

 

P1060742New guide Alasdair Snowman

Things got considerably more interesting next with the exposed slabby descent to reach the start of Alasdair

P1060750Came down here…

P1060749trying not to look down there…….

The SW Flank of Alasdair would ordinarily have been a 15 minute scramble; instead nearly an hour was spent pitching our way carefully up snow-coated basalt.

P1060753

Chimney at the foot of the face.

P1060754

View back to Sgumain & where we’d come from.

P1060761Angela on top of Alasdair; before her son of the same name makes it himself. Competetive mums eh!

P1060763

Window across to Thearlaich & Mhiccoinnich

Heavy sleet/rain finally caught us out on the top of Alasdair but didn’t dampen spirits. The snow made for good cushioning for the knees on descent and the tops even all cleared to let Angela see where she’d been.

P1060768Slippy descent from Alasdair with a view straight down to Ghrunnda to focus the mind.

P1060771View back to our peaks with deceptively little snow showing….

Snowy crest for bank holiday weekend.

30/04/15

After the brief dose of summery warmth & dry weather winter has returned with a vengeance. Despite strong sunshine temperatures remained low enough through today to leave the thick covering of snow on the Ridge crest complete. P1060454

The snow is heavy and wet but crampons will still be needed by anyone wanting to tackle the narrower sections of ridge, Thearlaich, Mhiccoinnich, Ghreadaidh, Pinnacle Ridge of Gillean in particular.

P1060434

A general recommendation would be to aim for individual peaks, add 50% to timings. SGurr an Fheadain, banachdaich, Blaven & Bruach na Frithe.

Sadly there doesn’t appear to be any full-on winter routing to be done.

Rock climbers should aim for the coast; here’s the Cioch today- P1060421

Temperatures may rise a bit mid-week next week but no heavy rain forecast to wash it all away.

Shining happy people having fun; April 2015

21/04/15

It’s been a busy beautiful time since Easter. Below are a selection of pictures of folk just having fun in the sun. Thanks to you all for bringing it and sharing some quality times. If anyone has shots from those days I forgot the camera please feel free to send them for me to add in.P1060342 P1060199 P1060259 P1060220 P1060216 Tourists P1060394 P1060396

Updates; #skyewinterfest and conditions, Mid-January

14/01/15

Winter feels well untruly underway today with snow on the roads at sea-level and more blizzrds forecast.

Jan 14th

Next week looks far more settled and cold right through to the start of the winter festival. Fingers crossed for more of the same.

http://www.weather.unisys.com/gfs/9panel/gfs_500_9panel_eur.gif

Attendance is looking good too with numbers already booked ranging from half a dozen some nights to over 16 through the central weekend. There are 24 beds available in total each night. Plenty more climbers are weather-watching and planning to come if things are half-decent. If you fit this bracket please give me a heads up unless you have your own van to sleep in. The pub kitchens are having some work done so food won’t be available. If you are local or making own sleeping arrangements you can join us at the bunkhouse for the communal evening meal but we will need notice. Everyone needs to bring their own brekky & lunch.

Old Inn, Carbost, sits among beautiful scenery – Bild von Carbost ...

Loch Harport Oysters on sale in the village but are they good climbing food?

The meet will spill over into the pub next door (obviously just for space reasons not alcohol:-) and there will be illustrated talks or climbing videos early evening most days. Resident staff Farquhar & Seamus are preetty handy on the tunes but any musicians are welcome to join in with the entertainment. All Content © 2014 - The Old Inn, Carbost, Skye.

Skye Winter Climbing Festival 2015

12/12/14

Skye Winter Climbing Festival 2015

Waterfront Bunkhouse, Old Inn Carbost. January 24th to February 7th 2015

An open invitation to winter climbers and walkers with an interest in the Skye mountains.

Following on from the success of the past 4 years the Skye Winter Climbing Festival has expanded to a whole fortnight! Yep, 2 weeks for climbers to meet up, climb together and enjoy the post-match analysis. The Cuillin truly take on their Alpine status in winter and offer climbing and scenery like nowhere else in Britain. We’re not expecting anyone to come for the whole period but there is a whole lifetime of adventures to be had.109

How does it work?

Nothing complex- Come for as many days as you want. There are beds for 24 people available throughout the fortnight; first come first served. Use the meet as a base for climbing with a regular partner or come and match up. Collectively we make sure that nobody is left partnerless, short of inspiration or too far out of their depth. You can self-cater but, in the past, we’ve pooled together for evening meals with one of our non-climbing friends knocking up a filling hearty meal ready for whenever we get off the hill.

Costs

£14 per night for a bed and £10 per night for evening meal (optional).

Background and information Skye Winter Festival

For the past 4 years staff and close friends of Skye Guides have held an informal winter meet.   The meet has seen high levels of activity including over 20 new winter climbs. It’s not all high-brow climbing however with many parties enjoying the magnificence of the snow-clad Cuillin from the corries, easy peaks and the coast-line. As in summer it is the peaks and ridges that are the greatest attraction with adventures possible in almost any conditions.

Guests have come from far and wide as well as a strong local representation each year. The apres-climb plays a big part for many but only to a level that doesn’t stop the climbing! The festival has allowed us to meet some amazing people and hear about some incredible adventures they’ve had.

What’s to do?

If you’re unfamiliar with what Skye has to offer check out any winter blog posts or an article on “The New Cuillin” for plenty of ideas.

Accommodation

Waterfront Bunkhouse at the Old Inn Evenings are informal; the accommodation has a spacious lounge with TV or there’s the pub next door. We’ve had illustrated talks on a variety of climbing trips, watched videos and guests are welcome to bring anything from musical instruments to their own climbing snaps.

Contact

If you’re interested e-mail mike@skyeguides.co.uk or call telephone Mike on 01471 822 116. Bed reservations will need to be paid for but we can also let you know how busy the different nights are looking. Wwe’ll get you to complete a booking form with your climbing grade, Cuillin experience, and details to help with lift sharing.

Social media

Please keep up to date through the Skye Winter Festival facebook page and retweet news using this shortened URL– http://goo.gl/FFrzPt and #skyewinterfest

Early FAQ

Got your own campervan- You’re still welcome to join us socially. Willy Sutherland’s campervan spot with hook-ups is at the Glen Brittle junction just half a mile away.

Last minute climber- We’re quite used to this scenario and happy for you decide to join us last minute. Keep in touch about space though.

Unsure?- Many of the Winter Meet regulars know the Cuillin very well, especially those who work here as guides. We’ll be offering is route advice and information on the ground but it’s a non-working meet for us and we’re here to play like everyone else. A list of attendees is circulated before the meet with details of their experience & depth of Cuillin knowledge. Through the meet walking and climbing teams slot into place after making acquaintances.

Travel- Let us know where you’re coming from and whether you want to share lifts.

Confused by this blog post?- The commercial aspect of the festival announced in November has been removed to open the meet to a broader audience. If you are one of the regulars who has now found that a far longer meet is planned go book more time off work 😉

Social- The Old Inn is the climbers’ pub in Skye but also a busy local. It’s a lively spot with organised bands and impromptu jamming. In the past we’ve had slideshows and talks, guitars & games. Let us know if you’ve got pictures or musical talents. The bunkhouse itself has an open plan lounge and kitchen area with television.

The Old Inn probably the best pub in Carbost

 

2014 Seasons Highlights

03/11/14

Blogging had to be dropped down the priorities this year because we were so busy. There’ve been hundreds of outings led by a total of 15 excellent guides who have been a pleasure to work with. Rough estimates of the 2 main outings currently lie at 24 successful Ridge Traverses and over 200 clients up the In Pinn!

Alone on the PinnRegular John Seal solo on the In Pinn.

Many thanks to all of our guests this season who chose to visit Skye and let us show you some of our wonderful island; our job is always made that much easier with such a dramatic and beautiful environment.Thank you for the positive feedback as well which is always passed on but I’m sure you’ll join me in thanking all of the guides that helped make so many dreams come true- Francis, Gillian, Rich, Scott, Guy, Mike T, Jonny, Lou, Ian, Iain, Jamie, Tamsin, Dave & Murdoch.

Gill Rich WedRich & Gillian lead the dancing at Bunchrew House Hotel.

Congratulations to Gillian & Rich on tying the knot (boom boom). It was a great celebration and a few folk suggested quite possibly the biggest ever social gathering of Scottish mountain guides and instructors. Also in June, Scott Kirkhope and his partner Gillian were blessed with the birth of Gracie. A list of climbing congratulations for the guiding team, with their trips to Yosemite, alps and in Antarctica, actually just makes me green with envy. Suffice to say your guides are taking their “research” and “training” very seriously.

P1000849 (600x800)

 

I’ve put up a gallery of the best shots and some to remind me of my own highlights in years to come (its the only way I can remember). Sweetest of them all was the completion of the classic Alpine trilogy with my good friend Bill. Back when he was a youngster (60yo) we’d tackled the Matterhorn, 5 years later his lifelong ambition of the Eiger (65yo) and this year we spent 3 days completing the hardest of the all, a Cuillin Ridge Traverse. Mixed in with some dry rock were bursts of heavy rain on each day. Not many would have completed in the conditions we had, let alone raved about the pleasures of bivvying in soaking sleeping bags. At 75 years old Bill is the oldest person I know of to have succeeded and I can’t wait to see what he fancies for his 80th;-)

Knife edgeBill in action on his Traverse

CAVEAnd in bivvy cave number 2.

Blog Backlog & Bla Bheinn footpath funding success.

04/04/14

Sorry about the radio silence but blogging is the lowest priority when life gets hectic I’m afraid. Last week the weather improved drastically and I enjoyed getting out 7 days out of 8.

CropBack to hot rock fun at Elgol; ye ha!

They were all great outings but highlights included finally placing an icescrew (1st time in the Cuillin this winter), meeting a couple of Italian guides at the Pinn who were up as guests of Al Todd (who skied the Great Stone Shoot this year) and a couple of hot days on the wonderful cliffs at Elgol (see videos on the Skye Guides Mountaineering Face Book page- I’ve put a selection of galleries below from most days.

italian2Italian joy on the Pinn

Conditions have warmed up considerably but you’ll see great quantities of snow on the northern Cuillin (Pinnacle Ridge gallery below) which I would guess will be with us until about late May. Elsewhere the only serious quantities are leading up to An Dorus and a small amount left in the Great Stone Shoot (pic in Italian invasion gallery).

Biggest news of the week was the successful campaign to win £24k of funding to help with the much needed improvements to the Bla Bheinn (Blaven) footpath. Considerd by many as having the finest views in Scotland Bla Bheinn probably attracts more visitors than any other peak in the Black Cuillin.

Skye’s Bla Bheinn path repair project has won EOCA’s Alpine category – securing us £24k funding for path repairs! Huge thanks to all who voted.

In the office enquiries and bookings flooded in as folk realised that Easter and Spring holidays are fast approaching.

Elgol Day 1-

The annual Belgian student outing around Coire na Creiche & Glen Brittle beach-

4/5 Gully approach to Pinnacle Ridge- spot the ice screw pic!-

Italian invasion at the Pinn-

Even hotter day at Elgol-

 

Harvey’s Cuillin map updates 2014.

13/12/13

Anyone unfamiliar with the Harvey SKYE THE CUILLIN map should treat themselves to a copy this xmas. The 1:25,000 scale map covers a huge area from Broadford, up to Sligachan, Carbost, Glen Brittle and right across to Elgol.  But it is the 1:12,500 enlargement of the Main Ridge makes it the only map of any real use to climbers and walkers wanting to explore the Ridge.

Skye: The Cuillin

It’s been an enjoyable task this week helping Peter Child at Harvey Maps with updates for the reprint in January. The project has been ongoing for quite a few years now; they reprint just about annually so map corrections can be easily added.

Paths

This year I suggested that some of the larger trails higher in the Cuillin could justify being added becuase they are comparatively easy to follow in good visibility. Pete was then able to double-check the ideas with aerial shots and produce an accurate end result that should aid a huge number of visitors.

Skye_cuillin_layout_2013_back copySgurr na Banachdaich is well recognised as the easiest Cuillin Munro to attain and the route has become well enough pronounced on the ground to mark it nearly to the summit.

Cliff numbering correlation with the SMC Guidebook

Correlating the SMC “SKYE THE CUILLIN” guidebook with the “SKYE THE CUILLIN” map has been the other major task.

Northern-Cuillin-Route-TopoPhotodiagram of the northern Cuillin seen from Sligachan; crags in red circles.

Skye_cuillin_layout_2013_back copyThe 1:12,500 enlargement orientated for viewing the northern Cuillin from Sligachan; crag numbers in red.

There are a total of 98 different crags from the book now all marked as close to the start of the climbing as possible. Previous editions of the map have, since 2004, had 55 crags marked; don’t worry these are all in the right place and match the map index. Fifty-five was the number of crags I thought the Cuillin had at the early stages of writing the guidebook. It was another 7 years before we went to print but the end result, particularly with these latest Harveys updates, means that climbers have a hugely increased chance of identifying and navigating to the cliffs they want to climb.

Signed copies of the Cuillin Guidebook can still be bought direct from us if you want another Christmas present!

 

Skye Trail

The most noticeable change on the 1:25,000 side is the addition of a section of The Skye Trail. Harveys also sell a map specific to the Skye Trail.

Skye Trail 2 variations are marked  in the Cuillin section for the more adventurous including a traverse of Bla Bheinn down to Camasunary and a detour into Coruisk via the Bad Step.

New materials

The 2014 map will also be the first made of the new generation of tough polyethylene that is both more waterproof but also far more resistant to tearing. Great news for all, including our guides who carry their valuable copies every day through all sorts of weather.

Finally I’d recommend browsing the Harvey maps website for a fascinating insight into how modern, high quality mapping is being done. Enjoy:-)

Update, May 20th

20/05/13

Apologies for little blogging; broadband down & working hard. All 6 guides have been out over the past couple of days and finally enjoying some degree of Spring kicking in; yeha!

Big difference from the blizzards just last Thursday in the selection below-

Cuillin Conditions update 23rd April. Bring crampons!

23/04/13

Sgurr MhicCoinnich, Sgurr Thearlaich and the Great Stone Shoot

UPDATE More up to date photos have been added  at the foot of the page from 23 April.

As the first May bank holiday approaches rapidly snow fields in the Cuillin aren’t melting very fast at all; in fact there is more snow forecast over the weekend ahead. The heavy winter has left the old snow very consolidated; nearly a week of warm wet westerlies only removed a small percentage of this with north facing snow slopes appearing almost untouched. Most of the photos here were taken last Friday 19th April. Sue, Jane and I enjoyed beautiful weather and an ascent of Sgurr na  Banachdaich.

Sgurr Thormaid and Sgurr a’ Ghreadaidh in detail

MUNROS

Crampons will be needed for almost all of the Cuillin Munros with the exception of Sgurr na Banachdaich, Bla bheinn and Sgurr nan Eag. The In Pinn may be possible without crampons if the south facing slab to the foot of the route washes down & gets some sun over the next few days. Approach by the West Ridge of Sgurr Dearg has small snow patches but is quite well stepped.

TRAVERSES & CLASSICS

Classic routes such as the Traverse, Pinnacle Ridge, Coire Lagan will be very serious undertakings. Linking any peaks still involves a choice of adhering rigidly to the crest or scarily traversing steep snow that is sitting on the normal ledge systems; both slow work compared to ideal summer conditions. Clach Glas is almost clear of snow but the ascent to Blaven is definitely still axe & crampon terrain. Descent from the Putting Green is possible but some caution still needed in the first few hundred feet. Kings Chimney will be way preferable to Collies Ledge for a while to come. More abseils will be required than normal so extra tat should be carried. Quite a few parties have been using snow bollards for anchors too.

DESCENTS

We are choosing our objectives as carefully as possible to avoid long snowfield descents; going up snow slopes is a lot safer than going down! Particularly daunting are the Great Stone Shoot, Coire a’ Bhasteir, Coire na Banachdaich and An Dorus. See the close-up shot of Great Stone Shoot above. Be prepared to turn in and front point down for some quite long distances with ice axe likely to be in “dagger” position.

ROCK CLIMBING

South facing crags were incredibly dry and snow free until the latest rain arrived. They are likely to dry rapidly again luckily, just be careful on descents. The Cioch is clear but Eastern Gully has still got some big snow patches in and may affect choice of descent. There’s always the suntraps at the coast if the hills are too cold; guidebooks for Cuillin or Seacliffs can be ordered through this website if you need them.

UPDATE PICS 23 APRIL

Pinnacle Ridge

Am Basteir

Coire a Bhasteir

In Pinn legislation part of Glen Brittle upgrades

31/03/13

The Black Cuillin landlords have announced that permits will be issued for teams making ascents of the Inaccessible Pinnacle this summer.

Traffic jams are commonplace on most fine days

A spokesman explained- “Queueing to climb the In Pinn has become a real problem in recent years. To sort this out a system with hour-long slots will be allocated between 4am and 5pm. A new high-speed internet connection at the campsite will allow climbers to book a slot either before they leave home, as they depart the Glen or even when they reach the foot of the climb.”

“The situation has got worse in recent years” agreed local mountain guide Mike Lates of Skye Guides. “Something certainly needed to be done. I’m just happy that they aren’t charging for these permits.”

Solitude on the Pinn as it used to be.

The campsite facilities have had a total overhaul this winter and the fine weather has allowed work to finish ahead of time. Wet-weather attractions available now include an extensive bouldering wall, cafe sauna and jacuzzi.Looking out to Glen Brittle beach

Spring Newsletter March 2013

13/03/13

Spring 2013 News from Skye Guides.

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ALL SET FOR ANOTHER BUSY SEASON

The Cuillin seem as popular as ever for the coming summer season. Fingers crossed the Jet-stream will head south again this year and leave us with the same dry sunny weather that we enjoyed in 2012. From mid-March til mid-July the number of wet days could be counted on 2 hands and most of August was also superb.
Coire Lagan
Our team this year is a mix of faces new and old, all professional mountaineers with a real passion for the Cuillin that can’t wait to show you our special mountains.

WONDERFUL WINTER

Winter kicked off very early with a huge dump of snow in early November and has continued to be superb pretty much ever since. Climbing with a record number of winter clients our guides have had some incredible days.
Knife-edge snow arete  The days traversing sections of the Ridge have been sublime with stunning climbing, situations and views. Something of a Cuillin renaissance has seen far more visiting climbers, many turning out new routes ranging from easy to desperate. The great news is that it is still very rare to see another soul here in winter; there’s lots to do & plenty of space for everyone! Over 40 BLOG entries from the past 3 months should provide plenty of inspiration to come and play next winter.
CALENDARS, MUGS AND T-SHIRTS.

Many thanks to all of you who bought the 2013 calendars. We sold out at Christmas but have had enough enquiries since then to put together another small order. Please let us know if you would like to add to this order by e-mailing us asap. For the 2014 calendar we aim to use some of the best shots sent to us by clients through the coming season.
2013 Skye Guides calendar
We often receive requests for presents and souvenirs so a small selection of Skye Guides t-shirts and mugs will be available this year. Collect from the office when you are up on holiday or order direct for home delivery. We’ll have a dedicated page on the website once we are up and running.

Cuillin Ridge

 CUILLIN RIDGE TRAVERSE
A fantastic ambition for any fit client who enjoys scrambling is, one day, to traverse the entire 12km spine of the Cuillin Ridge. The ultimate alpine-style challenge in British mountaineering requires dry rock, very high levels of fitness and good confident scrambling technique. Our booking system is arranged so that clients only pay for this premium product when all conditions are favourable. Read about a few of the Traverses we attempted last year on the BLOG
 

Cuillin Rock

ROCK CLIMBING
Whether it is an introductory day or dedicated course we all look forward to passing on some of our enthusiasm and skills. We provide Introduction to Climbing courses, designed to guide your transition from the indoors to the outdoors. Our guides will instruct you in those all important gear placement, belay and abseiling techniques. Most importantly we will always look to improve your movement on rock to make you a better climber.

ALPINE BREAK
Mike went to the Eveline in the Swiss Alps to stay with good friend Graham who runs FROST GUIDING in January. The view from Graham’s backyard is something to behold as the valley stretches right up to the Dente Blanche. Highlight of the week was climbing the 100m Cascade des Ignes after a snow-shoe approach but the photo that drew most attention was a postcard of a rubbish skier upsidedown. Some BLOG readers even thought it was Mike.
Not Mike skiing!
In Pinn

The Inaccessible Pinnacle
The Inaccessible Pinnacle (commonly referred to as the In. Pinn.) sits like a dorsal fin atop Sgurr Dearg and overtops the mountain by some 8 metres. It is well known as the hardest of all Munros to climb which requires concentration and a strong nerve. Skye Guides offer the expertise to lead clients to this unique summit. We appreciate that the Pinn. is a crucial peak for Munro baggers in order to keep the ambition to compleat  the Munro’s list. We make every effort to advise clients on the best way to achieve their dream and also to make the climb a real highlight. The vast majority of our clients find the ascent to be a surprisingly pleasant experience. With simple instructions and skillful ropework we are used to safely leading clients with a vast array of fears to the summit.
Cuillin Magic
USE OF ROPES

Skye is often the first encounter with ropes for many clients. The prospect of having a rope available should not be feared but welcomed. Ropes are carried on all Black Cuillin outings because it allows the guide to keep the client safe and build their confidence. The rope is always available and the extent to which a rope is used depends upon situations and individuals.

COMMENTS & SOCIAL MEDIA

We recently added a facility to comment on any photos or Blogs. Feel free to ask questions, give your version of the adventures or congratulate your friends. You can follow us on Twitter and we have finally even got a Skye Guides Mountain Guiding Facebook page which will allow also allow you to comment, like or share!

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Our address is:
Skye Guides
3 Luib
Isle of Skye
IV49 9AN
Tel: 01471 822 116
Mobile: 07769 221 500
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