Emotional rollercoaster. 8/9th May.
The forecast is as changeable as ever and I opted for starting wet on Tuesday & the dry forecast for Wednesday to do the bulk of the Traverse. Kim & I stashed our kit in a misty & damp Coir’ a’ Ghrunnda before heading out of to Gars bheinn at the south end of the Ridge. We emerged from the gloom just east of Sgurr nan Eag and were treated to spectacular views & effects.
Heading towards Gars bheinn
Above the clouds
Brokn Spectre; a good omen
We returned to the gloom of Coir’ a’ Ghrunnda collected water then settled down for food, wine & whisky before a comfy night.
At 6 o’clock yesterrday morning we woke to find the ground covered in snow & a blizzard howling around us; patience was needed but by 9am we were making exit plan.
Kim braves the blizzard for a pee
The first hope came with a small window showing bright sunshine below so we adopted a more optimistic atttitude and set off at 10. Climbing up the south-west flank of Alasdair wasn’t too bad but we were greeted by the full wintry blast on the summit. I’ve long talked about avoiding the hair-raising roof-top of Thearlaich by descending the Great Stone Shoot but this was the first time I’ve carried out the plan.
Quickly re-ascending “Bomb Alley” to Bealach Mhicchoinnich we found Collie’s Ledge out of the wind & snow free. There was still a strong prospect we’d have to face an extra (very cold) night out with little food to pull it off but a sense of optimism started creeping in.
Tony saw we were motoring so kindly let us through on the Pinn and we reached An Dorus, which I consider the half-way point along the Ridge, before 3pm.
Steep 2nd top of Mhadaidh
The 2nd half became a balance of speed, stamina & nutrition; we timed out for a welcome brew at An Caisteal.
One of the exciting steps on An Caisteal
We finally summited on Gillean at 7pm. Kim refused to celebrate until he’d climbed back down the West Ridge but then all thoughts were set on beer & food.
The walk-out in the evening light was sublime-
Macleaod’s Maidens & South Uist
Red Red Cuillin glowing with success