Archive for May, 2012

Mongoose Direct 27 May


Hannah Burrows-Smith is taking a break from Alpine guiding and has been working here for the past few weeks. We opted for a “busmans holiday” with a hot approach to the huge cliff on the back of Sgurr Mhiccoinich. We opted for Mongoose Direct, a line of cracks that splits the centre of the cliff. The lowest 2 pitches were very high quality but the crux 3rd pitch spanked my ass. We reverted to the original Mongoose line that joins Dawn Grooves. Above the quality of rock deteriated, motivation dwindled and so we took an escape line out right below the top pitches. Not the most satisfactory result but we did some amazing climbing and had a highly exciting time!

The crag in profile this morning.

Hannah sorting out the 50m abseil down Rotten Gully


Looking up the line


Pitch 1- straight into the laybacking

Hannah on the hard high quality second pitch

The crux pitch that defeated me tackles the white walled corner above.

On the traverse pitch of Dawn Grooves


Scorching end to May 2012


Very hot & very busy just now. Wee selection of memories-

Sweltering Traverse 24th May

Overhang Cure E2 5b; New route at Elgol. 25th May

Dawn Glory 24th May

Skye Guides annual BBQ- ie the only one we get between winter & midgies! 25th May

Early Traversers on Sgurr Thearlaich today, 26th May



Cold King’s Chimney and Charity Pinn day. 19 May


Good day with regulars Hazel, Dunc, Connor & Holly yesterday.


It was a busy day so we avoided queuing for the Pinn by starting on Mhicchoinnich with an ascent of King’s Chimney.


All rounded off with a great scree-run descent and wonderful evening light out to Rum


Thick snow on Bla Bheinn, 17th May.


Heavy precipitation meeting cold air gave the predicted blanket of snow today. Thanks to Gillian for this wintry picture.

Ingrid, Gordon & Caley at the Bla Bheinn trig point

Pinn to Cioch link. 11th May


Robbie only had the Pinn left to complete his Cuillin munros but quite fancied climbing the Cioch. From the top of the Pinn it was obvious that the good covering of snow ruled out traversing the peaks of Coire Lagan so instead we just crossed corrie. A first for me bagging these 2 classics in this way and the Lochan Traverse Route was pretty superb too.

Rime on the Pinn again focussed the attention

Lochan Traverse

Me posing on the Ciochin the afternoon sunshine

The best bits!


Matts Report

I was out with Vipan and Helen for 3 days this week. They brought sunshine and dry rock so we chose to do the fun bits of the Cuillin. Day 1 was the round of Coire Lagan, day 2 we climbed sgurr nan Fheadain, Druim nan Ramh and An Caisteal and then finished with a romp up the Dubh Ridge. A great few days on some of the best bits of the best mountains in the UK!

Approaching Sgurr Alasdair

Collies Ledge

Starting up Sgurr Nan Fheadain

Higher up the Spur

Abseiling on Druim nan Ramh

More airy scrambling!

The Dubh Slabs

More slab action!

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.

Snow-filled Shoot!

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.

Congratulations Kim!

The walk-out in the evening light was sublime-

Macleaod’s Maidens & South Uist

Red Red Cuillin glowing with success

Bank Holiday Busy. Pinn 5th May


We won on the gamble against the snow and then timed things just right to avoid getting held up by anyone on the Pinn today. Some parties had waited for up to 2 hours apparently.

Margaret ecstatic with achieving her In Pinn ambition and safely landing back on solid ground.

In the afternoon we headed over to Mhic Choinnich with more snow flurries but great views back to where we had come from.

Chris taking it all in on his first visit

Shade-seeking and inversions; 3rd May


The sun was even hotter yesterday so I chose to approach the Pinn by an enclosed gully in the Banachdaich Slabs. This had the added bonus of beautiful cold water for drinking right up to over 800m.

Glad to have reached the shade

A sea of mist lying east of Skye gave some beautiful effects and, as Mark pointed out, it was a wonderful day just to take it all in.

The eastern Black Cuillin, Garbh-bheinn, Clach Glas & Blaven with the Affric peaks snow-clad behind

The hills were nearly empty and we saw just 2 solo climbers going up and then back down the long crest of the In Pinn. This would have created havoc on a busier day but a wonderful peace kept everything calm.

Falcon Scott celebrating a long-held ambition

Mark & Iain take in the views

A classic stacked abseil descent on a classic day

A nippy breeze was quite welcome just as we started our ascent. It didn’t stop us having a dip in the lochan on the way down but was a sure sign of yet another cold front returning; today has been bitter but still dry.

Thanks to Chris Sutcliffe for sending this great shot of the Cuillin above the sea of mist taken from Bealach na Ba above Applecross where he enjoyed the uber-classic Cioch Nose.

Blaven far left and Beinn na Caillich far right

Last minute accommodation deal; 5th-19th May


We’ve just a last minute cancellation for our cottage that frees it up for the next fortnight. Please contact us by phone, 01471 822 116, or e-mail Catriona on if you are interested in booking. Book price was £495 for Saturday to Saturday but we are open to offers for any let of 3 or more consecutive days.

Glas Bheinn cottage is a traditional stone built cottge in the village of Luib just 25 minutes from the Skye bridge. It sleeps 4 people in a double and a twin room.

Pinn perfection, 2 May


Another glorious day treating us all to a good dose of sunburn today. Tom & I climbed Bomb Alley, roped across the last remaining snow on Collie’s Ledge and then tackled An Stac Direct before a leisurely ascent of the Pinn. The contrast with Monday’s wind & ice was unbelievable.

Big fresh bombs in the Alley

Ropes on Collie’s still

Pinn viewed from the top of An Stac Direct

Happy Tom after modestly climbing his last Munro; congratulations.

Coronation Route. 1st May


Had a great exploratory day with Chris Suttcliffe on the huge Western Buttress of Sron na Ciche today. The Coronation Routes were recorded independently in 1937 (George VI) and 1953 (Elizabeth II) but seem to follow a very similar line. For the new guidebook I reproduced the 1953 description & today it proved fairly accurate on the description side of things but very understated on both the length and severity (by modern standards).

Line diagram of the route

The start was a fierce 10m of thuggy but well protected jamming to leave West Central Gully.

Chris’s bulging forearms were a benefit on pitch 1!

A leftward traverse & layback gained the an easy groove for 70m. This ends abruptly in an undercut bulge as promised in the description which is fairly easily climbed.

Above the “formidable wall” was climbed by “a fine crack, easier than it looks”. This turned out to be a vertical 25m basalt dyke in a similar vein to The Snake but less enclosed. It is also now home to my favourite Link Cam and anyone retrieving it is welcome to keep it.

The Formidable Wall pitch

Heading up into the unknown on the crux pitch.

Chris finishing the crux pitch

Above here was supposed to be the crux, and a rusted old peg just as we crossed the line of Boomerang seemed to confirm this. Luckily it was considerably better rock & protection than the previous pitch and felt a whole lot less stressful. 3 fantastic 50m pitches of easier climbing on beautiful clean rock eventually led us to easier ground above Western Gully.

Chris leading the steep corner on pitch 6 of 7

We then scrambled roped together for another 100m before finally emerging on the SW flank of the mountain.

Shoes off & what did that book say?

There is superb clarity in the air just now and the views across to the hills of Harris and out to Rum, Eigg & Mull were superb

Overall the route took us about 7 hours, had 7 pitches (over 300m) and had 2 pitches with 4c moves. The crux groove was bold & protection was hard to assemble. I’d suggest a modern grade of HVS 4c as more suitable than the old grade of Severe. The climbing was very good and sustained throughout and I’d say it was worth at least 1 star for recommendation.