I have spent the last two days ticking Munros and Tops with Ian. Yesterday we nipped in ahead of the hordes on Pinnacle Ridge and enjoyed the classic round of Coire Basteir, finishing with Bruach na Frithe. Today we started on Sgurr Mhadaidh and finished with Mhic Chonnich. The sun has been blazing both days and the cool breeze on the tops has been much appreciated. We have been over 8 Munros, 6 tops, descended 4 abseils and covered a huge amount of scrambling in the last two days. An amazing effort from Iain and hopefully tomorrow he will tick the Munros and tops on the south end of the ridge.
Climbing out of An Dorus
Looking north from Ghreadaidh
Sgurr Thuilm and North-West Skye
Ian on one of the many tops we visited
Chloe overcame all her dislike of exposure and big drops in no uncertain manner today as she talked herself every step of the way up the long East Ridge of the In Pinn. Sis Emma tried to claim some nervousness but was far too calm and smiley throughout.
The girls loved the scrambling and we headed over to Banachdaich before a rapid descent of the screes in Coire an Eich.
Easy scrambling with Coire Lagan peaks behind.
Fun running on the screes
A privelige to guide local physio Eve Bolton & hubby Paul today on their 6th wedding anniversary. Also along was best man Matt, a Cuillin virgin who thoroughly enjoyed his baptism of fire.
Local understanding was easy with a wet start and we agreed on a relaxed start to let the damp weather move through. The result was a midday set-off resulting in a dry day with ever improving views and not a sole to be seen! My guess is that many took the cloud as a welcome excuse to have a rest after such an excellent period of weather.
We climbed Mhic Choinnich, An Stac Direct then moved straight onto the Pinn for wedding cake & Talisker.
Malt whiskey appreciation continued when we got back to the Sligachan too.
Paul confidently striding along the back of Mhic Choinnich
The mists clear just as we top out
Eve relaxed despite the position
On An Stac Direct; possibly the best part of the whole Cuillin Ridge in my opinion.
Matt calms the nerves with Talisker
I went out with Sam and Tim for their final day of rope-work, route finding and scrambling coaching. We opted for the super classic traverse of Clach Glas and were rewarded with a fine, dry and windless day. We had a great time on the awesomely grippy rock and enjoyed all the route finding and decision making challenges. Good luck to Sam and Tim for their riding across Mongolia mission!
Tim leading the way up the initial slabby crest
Sam in the lead
Tim leading on a steep section
Sam practicing lassoing for Mongolia!
Descending under the cliffs of Bla Bheinn
Tim enjoying the scree running
Tim & Sam are actually off to Mongolia not the Alps next year but their rope skills should help them enjoy the unclimbed peaks out there with greater confidence. Both have shown good abilities and understanding and I let them keep each other safe for most of the outing today.
In cold but glorious weather we climbed Sgumain, Alasdair and Thearlaich
Final section of the south-west flank approach to Alasdair
An important exercise was setting up anchors for abseils and descending Sgurr Thearlaich direct certainly provided a testing challenge.
Tim on the top abseil with Blaven behind.
Sam holds the nerve a long way above Coire an Lochain
Turquoise waters of Loch Coire a’ Ghrunnda
I have been out with Robert and Malcolm for three days out of the last four and we have been up Gillean, Am Basteir, Mhic Chonnich, Mhadaidh, Ghreadaidh, Banachdich and the In Pinn. It has been an excellent few days of Munro bagging, good weather and good company. It was also great to see the guys confidence and scrambling ability improve through the course. They went from slight concern at the prospect of the Tourist Route on Gillean to total self-confidence on the knife edge section between the north and south tops of Ghreadaidh.
Testing the frictional properties of the Gluteus Maximus!
Mal enjoying the exposure
Nearly at the top of Mhadaidh
Robert looking relaxed on the way down
Great view into Coriusk
Rob seeing the funny side while Mal climbs.
The crest is best!
Chloe, Emma and I lapped up the sunshine on a couple of rock climbs at Neist Point today.
Emma smearing on Sonamara, VS 4c.
Chloe topping out with An t-Aigeach, the Stallion’s Head, behind.
As the result of an inebriated conversation Tom had bought his Dad (Joe) and Uncle (Richard) a Christmas present which was a guided ascent of the In Pinn. Joe and Richard have been Cuillin enthusiasts for a long time, so long in fact that they even remember when the Great Stone Shoot was a good scree run! Despite the guys protests of being unfit we stormed up to the In Pinn in a fast time and hopped straight on to the East Ridge. In contrast to yesterdays cold and windy conditions today could not have been any more perfect. It was a magical day to be out in the Cuillin, dry rock, sunshine, good views and plenty of people out on the tops. There was still traces of ground frost near the top of Sgurr Dearg at 11am so bring a good sleeping bag if you are planning a traverse in the near future!
The In Pinn lurking behind Sgurr Dearg
Tom enjoying the approach to the In Pinn
If you look closely you can see 2 people at the top of the Stone Shoot, gives a good sense of the scale of Sgurr Alasdair and Thearlaich
Nearly at the Summit.
Joe showing good style and excellent socks on his abseil!
A pulse of baltic air removed the summery feel from the Cuillin today. I opted to avoid queuing for the Pinn and climbed the classic South Crack a 30m long Hard V Diff on the south face. Despite cold fingers Richard & Jo enjoyed this unusual first day in the Cuillin & we carried on to Banachdich to warm up & enjoy the views.
Mike on the South Crack (Taken from the halfway platform on the East Ridge)
I forgot my camera but hopefully Matt has some as he was also on the Pinn with Rob & Mal before taking them over to Mhicchoinnich. Whiskey was flowing before they’d even reached Coire Lagan apparently!
The heavy overnight rain that still hung around this morning soon cleared today to give ideal conditions.
Very full waterfall above the 2nd bridge on our approach.
Matt & I both headed up the Tourist Route with our clients; Tim & Sam learning to use a rope safely with me and Rob & Mal aiming to complete their Cuillin Munros.
Sun and Gillean clear just on cue
Beal Joker ropes put to good use at the crux of the “Tourist Route”
Mike, Sam and Tim contemplating the final narrow section to the summit of Gillean.
Sam & Tim compare notes with Am Basteir behind.
Just love it when you get good days unexpectedly!
Returning over the 1st bridge with the North End behind.
Heavy overnight rain was a bit of a shock after such an excellent week but Elgol is always a reliable venue to teach climbing.
Chloe & Emma have learnt to smear on polished gritstone in the past so I was happy to show them some real holds on the huge sandstone jugs at this superb crag.
We practiced footwork intensely for a few hours before heading over to the main cliff and an ascent of Fertility Right.
The Buckley girls below the corner of Fertility Right
Emma bridging nicely near the top of Fertility Right, a 25m Severe
It’s a bit bigger than Stanage with a lot less people was the conclusion!
A great effort from the Hendersons today as they had their first Cuillin experience. The brief was learning how to use a rope for scrambling and Sgurr nan Fheadain is ideal with only 40 minutes of walking to reach the rocks. After a demonstration and some simple instructions Matt and Monique did an excellent job of looking after each other all the way up. We briefly did some standard pitching to see how slow and unsuitable this is. On the descent they learnt how to safely set up anchors and then tested these with their first ever abseil.
Despite the full range of Skye weather from sunshine to horizontal rain and exploring the relative levels of friction between the gabbro and the basalt the outing was a resounding success.
Monique leading the way
Huge congratulations to Willi Moore on achieving his lifelong ambition of a Traverse. Scott Webster is joining the Skye Guides team this season and was along to help. Willi’s company, the weather and the climbing were all a pleasure. Great start to the season!
Only time for a quick photodownload in this hectic schedule I’m afraid- enjoy.
Willi has done lots in the Cuillin before but wants to put it all together in a Traverse this week. The weather window that looks best is Thursdy & Friday so we used Monday’s fine weather to practice techniques on the classic Clach Glas/Blaven Traverse, starting by the east ridge of Sgurr nan Each.
Looking at the Cuillin Ridge from Sgurr nan Each
Stage one over it was time for Clach Glas and the meat of the route.
This small but dramatic peak is known as the “Matterhorn of Skye”
Narrow top-edge scrambling for a concentrated hour leads to the summit.
The infamous exposed descent of the Imposter, the summit block of Clach Glas.
The exposed descent continues to the Putting Green before the North-East wall of Blaven is breached by some tricky rock pitches.
Mike concentrates while Willi takes in the view out to Sgurr nan Gillean
Climbing the final 80 foot chimney in short pitches.
Looking back at our route from the summit of Blaven.
Bla Bheinn is sometimes translated as the “warm mountain” and it certainly lived up to its name today. Temperatures were perfect with hot sunshine and a cool breeze that made for ideal walking conditions. I was walking to the North Summit with Carol and Malcolm and we saw plenty of other people but sadly not the hoped for golden eagle sighting. The forecast looks good for the next few days so hopefully plenty of people will be out enjoying the delights of the Cuillin. I have put pictures of the almost the whole ridge below to maybe inspire anyone thinking of coming up. There is no significant snow anywhere on the crest so axe/crampons are not needed.
The ridge from Caisteal a` Garbh Choire to Banachdich
The ridge from Banachdich to Bidein Druim nan Ramh
An Caisteal to Sgurr nan Gillean
I went out with Grandfather/Grandson team of Pete and Dan today to collect Pete’s final two tops-Knights Peak and the Basteir Tooth. We opted for going over Pinnacle ridge to Knights Peak, which was great fun and we got the added excitement of wet rock from the 3rd Pinnacle onwards.Pete entertained us with tales of soloing up the Inaccessible Pinnacle in his (slightly) younger days and this and other Munro bagging stories passed the time nicely until we found ourselves on top of the Basteir Tooth. The light rain had not relented all day but that did not dampen Pete and Dans delight at being on top and they even kept their humour as we indulged in the caving exploits required to reach the Kings Cave Chimney abseil. Thanks for a grand day out!
The final top of 227…
The atmospheric Kings Cave Chimney
I had an action packed day with Duncan, Hazel, Connor and Holly today. They had completed a long and successful day on Sgurr nan Gillean yesterday so today was a total change of pace on the Elgol sea cliffs. We bouldered,climbed on three different crags and introduced some skills necessary for lead climbing.
Getting to grips with slab climbing
It was a great day out and everyone pushed their comfort zones as we climbed in windy conditions above a crashing sea!
Hazel looking relaxed on “Fertility Right”.
I went over Bidean Druim nan Ramh with Beth yesterday and everything seemed in good shape after the winter. All the abseils are in place at the moment with tat in good condition.
Firstly many congratulations to Martin Goddard on completing his Munros on Sgurr Alasdair today. After getting a lift into the glen with us he found his own way up from Coire a’ Ghrunnda onto the South-West flank so avoiding a pergatorial slog up the Great Stone Shoot. Slainte!
Chris and I aimed for a quick ascent of the Cioch which was staying below the clouds. It was still looking pretty dry as we reached the sweepng slab below and 2 rope lengths took us to the top. This iconic obelisk was where Sean Connery famously had his sword fight in classic 80’s film The Highlander.
Our route climbed the corner (Slab Corner, Diff) below the Cioch
Mist envelops us as Chris belays in the shelter of the mighty Cioch
Waiting on top for the mist to clear proved to be a misjudgement as a painful hail and snow squall caught us as we made the awkward descent from it’s summit.
Keeping the head down as the hail battered us!
As a result the smooth rocks on the narrow Neck had added excitement.
Chris doing the body slither up the Neck
The weather stayed dry but misty as we continued on up Eastern Gully, over Sron na Ciche, onto Sgurrr Alasdair and down the Great Stone Shoot before finding the sun below the cloud again.
Scree running down the Great Stone Shoot
Martin and I were walking up the west ridge of Sgurr Dearg getting pelted by rain, sleet and hail. I was hoping that the promised improvement in the weather was going to materialise before we reached the In Pinn. The hail showers started to drop off and as we got ready at the bottom of the climb they had stopped completely. The rock was quite wet but this did not slow Martin down at all and he sauntered casually up the East Ridge despite not having done any climbing for 20 years! Right on cue the sun made an appearance as we arrived at the top and we then got a view across Coire Lagan. This encouraged us to head for Mhic Choinnich and we were rewarded by some beautiful dry rock that made the scramble to the summit an absolute pleasure. The walk down in bright sunshine was quite pleasant as well-at least 3 seasons of weather in one day I reckon.
Martin enjoying the crux of the In Pinn
Mhic Choinnich, Thearlaich and Sgurr Alasdair
Looking back to the In Pinn
After an undeniably savage week, even by Skye standards, a warm, windless but damp misty day seemed a pleasant prospect. Tom had been given a day in the Cuillin as his 40th birthday present. His only clue as to what may come was a distant view of the jagged skyline from Coruisk yesterday.
After only half an hour of walking we popped out above the cloud with the vertical walls of Sron na Ciche towering above and Tom began to get the hang of what he was in for on his round of Coire Lagan.
Looking down to where we had emerged from the mist and the walls of Sron na Ciche
But Tom is a very fit Kiwi and equally light on his feet. We reached Sgurr Sgumain in little over 2 hours and our proposed route to reach the In Pinn was laid out beautifully for us to admire.
Our next objective Sgurr Alasdair with Sgurr Mhicchoinnich beyond.
The Inaccessible Pinnacle stands proud on the left with the rest of the Cuillin Ridge leading off in the distance.
Kitted up and strapped on Tom was ready for the ride with Alex at the helm.
On Alasdair, highest point on Skye at 993m.
Alex on the final downclimb of Thearlaich
Bombing along Collie’s Ledge
Ignoring the drop on the fin of the In Pinn
Abseiling off with Rum Cuillin in a sea of mist beyond.
Final view of the Pinn
And dropping back into the mist
Fantastic day out with one happy client and 2 happy guides looking forward to a grand season ahead.
The weather has finally relented and we were treated to a lovely calm and warm day. I went over the four tops of Sgurr a Mhadaidh today with Beth. This section of the ridge has a little bit of everything; slabs, towers, knife edges, perfect gabbro and plenty of exposure in ascent and descent. There are also plenty of nice spots to stop and enjoy the view from! The amount of snow on the ridge has reduced massively and there was none on the crest but there are still extensive snow fields on the Coriusk side of the hills.
Looking towards Bla Bheinn
Impeccable ridge climbing technique!
Excellent climbing on the second top of Mhadaidh