Skye Guides and the Cuillin Ridge Traverse
The Ridge Traverse is our speciality at Skye Guides. It should not be your first ambition in the Cuillin unless you are a highly competent mountaineer. The only exception to this rule of thumb is if you are incredibly fit and booking on a 1:1 basis. See suitability and vetting paragraph below. Our very high success rate (more than 100 successes in total and over 75 %  in 2013) is only due to stringent vetting and following some rigid principles. Although a truly magnificent route, the Cuillin Ridge Traverse is a major alpine-style climb, a huge undertaking and is not for everyone.
For a broad overview please read the Traverse information page and study the Free Download Tips for Success on the Cuillin Ridge . If this sounds like the challenge for you please Contact us by phone or e-mail to discuss.
A very high level of fitness is paramount along with good core strength and balance. Previous experience in the Cuillin or on rocky ridges in the Alps is the best way to know if this challenge is for you and we are happy to advise. Like many aspects of mountaineering, the Traverse is fundamentally dangerous and our number one priority is to keep all members of the party safe. For this reason we vet all potential clients who enquire.
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How we operate for Traverses.
The Cuillin Ridge Traverse may not always be possible, with weather playing a major role. A successful Traverse favours largely dry rock, hence much consideration and experience lies behind the way in which we charge for making an attempt. 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. Prices and examples of how the system works can be found on this Prices page.
4-day Traverse Course
The longer your stay the greater your chances of success; Our recommendation is to book onto a 4-day course. This allows time for training, assessment and, most significantly, a suitable weather window. The success of the Traverse attempt is always the focus of the week. Careful consideration has to be given not only to the attempt but also nutrition, rest and the complex logistics of equipment and travel. The rest of the course is spent with a suitable mix of training climbs, scrambling and bivouac retrieval. Specifically the day following a successful Traverse is always low key.
Sample four-day itinerary for ideal weather
Day 1: Practice and assessment day. Approach Main Ridge by Thuilm Ridge of Mhadaidh. Stash water and bivvy gear.
Day 2: Travel to Elgol and approach by 8am boat. Reach Gars-bheinn 11am. Reach TD Gap by 1pm, In Pinn by 4pm, An Doras and bivvy 6pm (9-10hrs, 8000ft ascent)
Day 3: Depart bivvy 6am, Bruach na Frithe at 10am, Gillean at 12pm, Sligachan at 3pm (9hrs, 5000ft ascent)
Day 4: Return to Elgol to retrieve vehicles. Possible sea cliff climbing.
Two-day Traverse Attempts
Our procedure for those with only a short period available, again, is to only accept an advance booking for 2 or 3 days of private guiding. If Skye Guides decide that conditions are suitable an upgrade to an attempt will be offered. If our decision is that a Traverse attempt is unwise the individual days will be used on less ambitious routes more suited to the weather.
Single Day Attempts
Only exceptionally fit clients, previously assessed by Skye Guides are considered for this style of Cuillin Ridge Traverse. Sometimes a weather window dictates a late evening approach, short rest/lightweight bivvy and a full Traverse the next day. Bivvying increases the chances of success for the majority of aspirants if done properly.
Suitability & Vetting
Bookings for any attempt will only be considered from clients who have been guided by us before or those who can demonstrate a very high level of fitness and, ideally, relevent mountaineering experience elsewhere. Previous experience of Cuillin peaks is often best as clients will know the scale of the undertaking. Alpine experience of ascents of rocky routes such as the Hornli Ridge (Matterhorn) or Mittelligi Ridge (Eiger), are suitable whereas an ascent of Mont Blanc is unlikely to have prepared you. Wide experience of trekking, overnight camping, general hill walking, rock climbing and alpine snow peaks are not often considered as suitable preparation.
The higher the number in a group the lower the chances of success and 1:2 is the maximum ratio we recommend with more than one guide available for attempts by larger parties. All party members should be of compatible fitness and ability. Harsh decisions often have to be made if this criteria is ignored.