The Cuillin Ridge Traverse is a magnificent climb following a continuous 12km ridge crest from one end to the other. It is an alpine-style route unlike anything else in the UK.
Approaches and descents to the Ridge take a total of 6 hours. There is then 12km of continuous scrambling mostly along a narrow crest with concentration required on every step. This takes approximately 9-15 hours to complete in ideal weather conditions. A handful of short rock climbs are encountered along the route but these are not a problem compared to the physical and mental effort required. Over 4000m (13,000feet) of ascent and descent is involved.
Skye Guides approach to success
The climbing on a Traverse takes approximately 16-20 hours to complete in ideal weather conditions. An overnight bivouac is normally required, so more than 30 hours are usually spent in the mountains.
Skye Guides’ stated aim on any Traverse attempt is to consider the far end of the Ridge (whether travelling south to north, or north to south) as the summit. Any number of variations are possible but an ideal Traverse will deviate from the crest of the Ridge as little as possible. Success is considered as reaching the summit by whatever route is necessary given the constraints of weather, fitness and safety.
A guided traverse of the Cuillin Ridge is not possible in poor weather conditions because the levels of danger and physical and mental effort are too high to justify. Our pricing system means that clients will only pay the premium for attempting this challenge if weather conditions are suitable.
Completing the challenge in a single day is beyond the majority of aspirants so Skye Guides use an overnight bivouac to greatly enhance the chances of success.
This course is only suitable for exceptionally fit and able clients in low numbers and only possible in good (dry rock) conditions. There is a great deal of preparation involved in making a successful Traverse and every effort is made to help clients; from training to equipment. Success rarely comes without a great deal of effort from everybody involved.
Our policy is to only accept bookings for daily private guiding from aspirants in advance. If the weather forecast is suitable to make an attempt an upgrade to the Traverse price is due before starting. This system is designed to minimise the risk of clients paying for a Traverse attempt when conditions are not suitable. From our side it avoids dangerous situations where clients “insist” on making an attempt when it is not safe or wise. Success can never be guaranteed on such a huge undertaking but the time, effort and skill put in by our guides is unquestionable.
A Cuillin Ridge Traverse is a premium product and prices reflect this. However, the hourly rate for this product remains considerably lower than on all of our other courses. Justification for this anomaly is that Skye Guides do enjoy the challenge and experience of guiding one of the best routes in Britain when conditions of client and weather are suitable.
Munro Bagging and the Traverse
Munro bagging is not an objective directly compatible with this course. Many, and often all, of the Munros are climbed on a successful Traverse and they form the basis of objectives on unsuccessful weeks. However the Traverse should be viewed as an independent challenge specifically to traverse the spine of the Main Ridge.
If you want to discuss an idea please Contact us to talk ideas through.
Many questions you may have will be answered in this Free Download-Tips for Success on the Cuillin Ridge
Wet rocks and high winds make the route unjustifiable if not impossible. Our pricing is structured so that clients need not pay the premium price for an attempt if the weather is not suitable. Although the Traverse is the most famous Cuillin route it is only one of many similar quality climbs available. These alternatives give great climbing in less than ideal weather. Aspirants are advised to book 2, 3 or 4 days of private daily guiding to reserve the services of the guide. If conditions are ideal an attempt will be made on the best 2 days with the others used to rest or recover. If conditions aren’t suitable then the individual days will be enjoyed and used to prepare for a future attempt.
Like many aspects of mountaineering, the Traverse is fundamentally dangerous and we make no apologies for vetting aspirants. We are flexible enough to allow a course upgrade to a Traverse attempt if conditions turn out to be suitable.
Chances of success are highest on a 1:1 basis. 1:2 is a safe and practical ratio if both clients are of equal fitness. For larger groups bespoke arrangements can be made. For 2-day attempts this involves using more than one guide. On 4-day courses a day of assessment to work out who is suitable for making an attempt is needed. Other party members can then be used to enhance the chances of success for these while enjoying a more suitable day themselves. This has worked well in the past with all party members enjoying a bivouac together. The extra guide is only used for 2 of the 4 days so keeping the price down