Very hot & very busy just now. Wee selection of memories-
Sweltering Traverse 24th May
Overhang Cure E2 5b; New route at Elgol. 25th May
Dawn Glory 24th May
Skye Guides annual BBQ- ie the only one we get between winter & midgies! 25th May
Early Traversers on Sgurr Thearlaich today, 26th May
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!
Matt set out with Simon and Tony early on Saturday morning to see if (my!) rumours of incredible neve on the ridge were true! We experienced a certain amount of trepidation when we saw that the snow line was 500 metres lower than two days ago. However we decided to have faith and press on to the South-East ridge of Sgurr Nan Gillean, where we were rewarded with a view of the entire Cuillin ridge.
Sadly the rumours of quality neve on the crest of the ridge turned out to be just that. Fortunately the amazing situation, incredible views, sunshine and enjoyment of the climbing more than made up for this.
The ridge seemed truly Alpine in appearance and appropriately an alpine approach of moving together provided maximum enjoyment in continuous but safe progress. Am Bhasteir had a massive covering of snow that made progress easier than in summer conditions. There was even a soft landing below the bad step!
We made good progress along the ridge despite the occasional bout of wading and arrived at the An Caisteal cave just as dark fell. There was a lot more snow than we expected in the cave so we decided to make our way past Bidean Druim nan Ramh to another bivouac site at Bealach na Glaic Moire. The 10ft deep drifts on the Bealach put paid to this plan so we found an alternative site to eat and lay our heads down at.
Sunday morning found us picking our way down the slopes of Coir a Mhadaidh and admiring the amazing views all along the ridge. There is an amazing amount of snow on the Cuillin and all the gullies seem complete (even Waterpipe Gully) and while it is mainly powder just now the mixed climbing should be in good condition and gullies should hopefully respond well to the upcoming melt-freeze cycle…
All eyes are now carefully studying the forecast for the next few days. Conditions are very close to being ideal for the Holy Grail of British Mountaineering- a Winter Traverse of the Cuillin Ridge.
Neil Mackay on the successful Traverse 30 November 2010.
Quoting from the SMC guidebook text I have just proof read over the past 24hrs-
In good conditions this is probably the greatest single climb to be had in Britain. Good conditions are rare with one period a season possibly above average since it was first achieved. The good news is that frequency does not seem to be decreasing and the internet now gives aspirants unprecedented access to forecast and condition reports. Anything but good quality neve on the crest makes progress incredibly slow and physical. Tom Patey suggested that a heavy dump of snow with little wind, so that the crest isn’t stripped, is the first stage. A minor thaw right to the summits followed by a sharp freeze and good weather (an easterly wind and high pressure) for the next few days is the ideal scenario. Opportunities must be grasped quickly before sun or rain strip the crest back to bare rock.
We now have the makings- a thick covering with a minor thaw that is estimated to have reached above the tops. Cold weather is forecast but there is a slight hiccup- the normally dream situation of a cloud inversion is predicted.
Summer Temperature Inversion
The more technical name for this is a temperature inversion which means the glens will be cold but the tops may be warm! How warm is the key factor; my feeling is that, above all this snow, the damage likely to be caused will be minimal and clear night skies will put a good solid crust in place within a night or two. Personally I would wait and see what Saturday looks like but be ready to go Sunday. Below a cloud inversion the weather is grey, damp and murky so don’t get put off! For more advice study the brief download from this website- http://skyeguides.co.uk/Downloads/SkyeGuides_TheWinterTraverse.pdf