Archive for June, 2011

Ridge Traverse


Matt’s Report

I have been on the ridge with Petra and Jurgen enjoying perfect weather for the last two days. We had an extremely enjoyable time climbing all the classic bits of the ridge and the bonus of a warm, dry bivvy tucked away from the cold winds in a luxurious cave! Petra and Jurgen are from Innsbruck and thought that the Cuillin Ridge compared well with the Alpine routes they are more familiar with. They did comment that the TD Gap seemed harder than its grade, perhaps due to the polished nature of the rock from generations of scrabbling climbers?! The exposure of Naismith’s route also left a big impression and it was the only time I heard a word of complaint or two!

Ascending the grassy slopes of Gars-bheinn

Climbing the TD Gap

Early morning view of the ridge

Lovely climbing on the second top of Mhadaidh

Enjoying the exposed Naismith’s Route

Making Hay; Mid-June 2011


Mike’s report.

The up-turn in weather has left all our guides very busy over the last wee while. Pictures speak louder etc etc so below are a few of days out I’ve had recently.

Congratulations to Nicola Wright (with Gillian) and Jurgen & Petra (with Matt) on successful Traverses this week.

Elgol Gala boats all decked out for the race

Angel of Sharkness (E1) at Elgol with Pieter from Belgium

Western Drainpipe Ridge, the Cioch and Elgol with the Cool Kings!

In Pinn with Izzie & Kevin Macdonald

Round of Coire na Creiche with Helen Gower

Rope skills, Pinn and Pinnacle Ridge with Dave & Angus

I had a hard day at the office today flying with the film crew making preparations and managing to take pics of Skye Guides and their clients at the same time.

Parked up below the Old Man of Storr

Matt finishing his Traverse with Petra & Jurgen, from Austria (they’re just under the nose of the Tooth starting Naismith’s Route)

Francis about to start the Pinn with Charlie Ross

The Ridge and the Spar Cave


Matt’s Report

Apologies for the lack of entries recently. We have all been very busy enjoying lots more sunshine and dry rock over the last week. I have been out on the ridge with Nick and Mike for the last five days. We found time for some rock climbing and a quick visit to the Spar Cave as well. The Spar Cave was a great attraction in Victorian times, sadly they also liked taking stalagtites as souvenirs but the cave is still well worth a visit-just make sure you get your tide-times right! You can find out more details of getting into the cave via this link:

Looking back to the entrance

Deeper in the cave…

Beautiful rock formations

The results of our glow stick in the dark experiment!

Warning passed on 13 June.


I’ve just had a warning from Tony Hanly through the rescue team about a block that has fallen off on An Caisteal that will affect those on a Traverse.

The block concerned is apparently the entire lump that James is touching?

On Friday, just 4 days after I took this shot, it sounds like a climber repeated this manouvre and took it with him down into the deep slot below. Miraculously he was stopped by a wedged boulder and walked away! Anyone familiar with this feature will be both shocked & amazed.

1hour later;

Thinking a bit more it seems more possible/likely that it was the slot 100m further south along the crest of An Caisteal, usually crossed about 10m down on the Glen Brittle side. There is/was a block far more undercut & worrying here and survivng a tumble into the slot seems a bit more possible. Mike

THIS HAS BEEN CONFIRMED by Steven Crummay, the lucky/unlucky chap who gave the following advice-

“Lessons from it I would say are always carry a 1st aid kit ( I had one), always take a rope on the Cuillin if you are going on anything more than a walk ( we had one and it proved invaluable) don’t assume that everything is solid – Donald must have been standing where I fell just seconds before without anything happening and finally try to make sure that you are not on ground beyond your skill/experience level. We were lucky in that we fairly easily could get ourselves out of the predicament on the top of the ridge and had the right gear to get ourselves down safely, have a hot cup of tea and something to eat and take care of my minor injuries, it is easy to see that without the right gear in the pack and experience it could have been horrendous.”

The Remote North-West


Matt’s Report

I just had a long weekend of sea-cliff climbing at Sheigra. This is an amazing collection of Geo’s composed of immaculate Lewisian Gneiss located about 10 miles south of Cape Wrath.

The best Scottish Guidebook (Apart from the upcoming Skye Cuillin Guide….obviously!)

Lewisian Gneiss is though to have formed about 2500 million years ago (compared to the Cuillin which are mere youths at a sprightly 60 million years old). Gneiss is known as basement rock due to its great age, but of more relevance to the climber is its solid nature, good friction and provision of beautiful cracks and pockets that were designed to provide holds and protection opportunities!

“Cracking Corner” VS 4c

These amazing crags should be visited by every climber because there are brilliant routes at every grade from V Diff to E6.

“In the Pink” V Diff

The climbing is made even more special by the scenery which is superlative and the wildlife which really flourishes up here: the highlight of our weekend was seeing a small pod of Killer Whales, including a calf, swim right past the cliffs.

Looking West

Above Treasure Island Walls

Oldshoremore Bay

Many thanks to John Bennett who sent through these panaroma shots of the Cuillin from his visit at t


Many thanks to John Bennett who sent through these panaroma shots of the Cuillin from his visit at the start of May.

Centenary of the 1st ever Traverse; 10 June 2011.


Probably the most famous of all Cuillin achievements happened exactly a century ago; in fact Mssrs MacLaren and Shadbolt were probably just settling down with a fine whisky to celebrate at this very moment. I would loved to have made a celebratory Traverse myself but am starting one tomorrow with Heather & Rob; I felt that “slipping in” a quick crossing today would not have left enough in my tank. I look forward to heaing from anyone who did succeed today. Night, Mike

 Cuillin Ridge view.

Traversng Sgurr ’ Ghreadaidh in 2010.

First seal pups seen on Coruisk boat trip; 8 June 2011


The location work with James culminated with a trip into Coruisk and good explore of a new 2km section of the Cuillin for myself; probably the biggest new area to me in well over a decade. The direct start to the Druim nan Ramh raised the adrenalin for a couple of exciting moves and we found some great bouldering on the way down (crucial to James’ research obviously).

 Direct start to Druim nan Ramh (the ridge of oars)

 Lesser spotted cold-water swimmer

The trip was also quite a wildlife bonanza. The first common seal pup of the season had been born overnight and got Alex the Aqua-explore boat skipper quite excited.

Scavaig seals sunbathing.

The arctic terns were screeching as we arrived; they unusually nest on an island in the fresh-waters of Loch Coruisk and fly out to fish in the sea-water of Loch Scavaig. The large and beautiful golden plovers were equally vocal on the top of the ridge as they tried to attract us away from their nest or fledglings.

 A poor zoomed shot of Golden Plover but the bold markings show well

And finally we found a tiny lizard soaking up the sun on some hot gabbro; not sure of the species so please e-mail me if you know.

Film Location research, June 6th


Mike’s report.

After landing in Inverness at lunch James arrived as the clouds parted so we headed up for a late stint on the Cuillin. James is working on a big screen blockbuster as location manager and the director wants some more “Mordor” style landscape for the action scenes. Happy to oblige with the Cuillin often being labelled as Tolkeinesque.

James is a climber so loved being up on the top of the Ridge between the more “crew friendly” sections.

Doing the bold step on An Caisteal with a 20m drop beneath his feet!

We went from Sgurr a Bhasteir to Glaic Moire and back to Sligachan in time for last orders.

Mhadaidh and Ghreadaidh


Matt’s Report

I was out with Kate and Penny today on the first day of a five day Munro course. We went up to An Dorus and climbed Ghreadaidh and Mhaidaidh. Some people say that the crux of these two peaks is pronouncing their names correctly!

Sgurr a Ghreadaidh: “Skoor a Hreeta”-translates as Peak of the Mighty Winds and Sgurr a Mhadaidh: “Skoor a Vatty”-translates as Foxes Peak. (Thanks to Gordon Stainforths book for the pronunciations)

The clarity of the views today was astounding and we saw St. Kilda and Boreray quite clearly beyond the Outer Hebrides. (St Kilda is about 75 miles from Glen Brittle)

Climbing out of the Ghreadaidh side of An Dorus

Penny and Kate posing near the top of Mhadaidh

Looking into Coruisk

St Kilda is out there somewhere!

In Pinn


Matts Report

A classic day on the In Pinn with Sherry, Gillian and Matthew today. The weather was lovely, the company was good and the rock was dry! An excellent day in the Cuillin.

Approaching along the west ridge of Sgurr Dearg

Climbing the first part of the east ridge

Matthew trying to find out if the Coruisk side of the In Pinn really has an overhanging and infinite drop!

The classic Pinn shot!

Mike’s Ridge report, 2/3 June.


Particularly chuffed with this success because it looked like the weather was conspiring against us with thick wet mist blowing in off the Atlantic on Thursday morning. All gloom lifted on reaching Sligachan however with the north end clearly dry & nearly cloud free. Plans for a long damp approach to the south end were binned and starting by Pinnacle Ridge (which I had never done for a Traverse) was the highly attractive alternative.

North End at 10am Thursday

Taking it all in from the top of Gillean

We traversed over to the Bhasteir Tooth where we found Gillian with her clients, Kate & John Forbes, abseiling out of King’s Cave Chimney

Kate gets ready to go….

….down there!

After borrowing their ropes we headed south over Bruach na Frithe with the mist lifting off the Ridge just ahead of us all the time. Odd damp corners made some of the climbing (out of Tairnilear & onto Bidean) interesting but there was no urgency.

The rest of the Ridge was finally clear by about 5-30pm

A very happy Beck.

We collected 10 litres of water from a tiny but flowing source in An Dorus using the syphon from a Platypus before making one final long hard rise to a popular bivvy ledge on the top of Sgurr a Ghreadaidh.

 Collecting water for overnight and next day.

Dinner of Thai chicken & beef curry was accompanied by some of the most magnificent light effects and views you could ever hope for.

Sunset with Sgurr Thuilm foreground.

Dawn was glorious but sadly the mists rolled in just as we left the bivvy at 7-30am next morning.

Beck sleeping soundly through the sunny dawn

It never rained and there was only a touch of dampness but I was glad to know the way in the pea-souper. On a positive side it meant no queuing for the Pinn and little need for water. In fact the first views we got all day were in the final 20 seconds before reaching the southern most peak of Gars-bheinn.

From here we headed down the East Ridge directly to catch the last boat out of Loch Scavaig and a celebratory Talisker. Slainte!!!

From the Top! Thursday 2 June


Mike is enduring(!) a bivvy above the clouds tonight as he and Beck are half way through a Traverse. They started by Pinnacle Ridge and have spent the day overlooking a cloud inversion. The whole ridge has been clear this evening and there is now some beautiful brockenspectre action as the cloud moves in and out. They should complete the traverse tomorrow and hopefully bring some more good pics. Jealous Matt!

Phone-camera shot with a broken spectre behind the bivvy ledge on Ghreadaidh

Skye Mountain Rescue Team Advice


Sadly there was a fatal accident on Cioch Direct (Lower Cioch Buttress in Coire Lagan) yesterday. The rescue team have advised climbers to stay away from Cioch Direct as there is a considerable amount of loose rock on the route. It would be wise to avoid all nearby routes for the immediate future as the rockfall was quite extensive. You can read the full version of the advice here:

Our condolences to everyone involved in and affected by this accident. Stay safe out there.

Munro Bagging


Matts Report

We have had some dry weather this week and I have been out taking advantage of it with Douglas and Kevin. We have been up Gillean, Am Basteir, Bruach na Frithe, Mhic Chonnich and the In Pinn in the last few days. The guys have done extremely well, particuarly on Collies Ledge and the In Pinn yesterday!

The west ridge of Sgurr nan Gillean

Walking underneath Am Basteir

Looking back at Am Basteir

Sgurr Alasdair and Sgurr Sgumain looming out of the cloud

Climbing towards bealach Mhic Chonnich