Archive for November, 2014

November delights.


No sign of winter yet but its been another glorious week of late autumnal weather.

P1030805 (600x800)

Mike & I were treated to a feast of light effects, warm sunshine and plenty of dry rock on a round of Coire na Banachdaich.

Brokn Spectre1 crop (639x800)

Please help Lynsey & Rabbie finish on a high


Lynsey & Rabbie the Dog are raising money for Help for Heros by climbing all of the Scottish Munros. In little over the 2 year mark they now have only 8 left to complete. A phenomenal effort from both but Rabbie does have 4 legs! This was painfully obvious as we descended steeply from the 5 Sisters of Kintail; while our knees screamed pure murder Rabbie chased his stick up and down the slope repeatedly.


Lynsey & rabbie1Stick throwing gave us both a welcome excuse for a break on the 1068m descent.

If you want to follow their adventures, including one of the scariest headcam videos of the In Pinn, check out their facebook page- Lynsey & Rabbie H4H Munro Challenge or donate directly here

One final word of warning to anyone descending towardss Sheil Bridge- the old suspension bridge at the east end of Loch Shiel is very unhealthy; I had to use special spiderman powers of praying to get across safely and avoid the 3km alternative detour!

Sheil BridgeOld suspension bridge east of Loch Shiel

Whale of a day!


On such a perfect windless day it seemed rude not to go and at least take a look for the humpback whale widely reported to be spending vacation time in the sound of Raasay- its got good taste because Her Majesty is also rumoured to love spending time here.

Sound of RaasayLooking down the Sound of Raasay towards the Red Cuillin

Calm seas boded well but the fantasy was flavoured with the usual mix of realism & pessimisim I get when it comes to spotting wildlife. Reports from watchers at Camastianavaig were encouraging though with minke whale apparently also adding entertainment. Leaving the village by the right exit (by the post box) was a good start but a bit of poor route choice at the first junction took us up out of sight of the shore.

Camas startIgnore the gates and go up between the fences to leave the village.

A bit of bouldering entertained us between bog stomping up to the cliff top. Half an hour later and the Sound of Raasay opened up like a jewel in front of us. Only a handful of objects broke the mirrored surface and, while I zoomed in on what turned out to be a pod of kayaks, Ben spotted a whale instantly. Probably a good kilometre away but after surfacing a few times I managed to get the x16 zoom in focus and identify it as minke whale.

Minke finThe small prominent fin makes the Minke easy to identify.

For the next hour a pod of 4 or 5 minke whales laid on a display that only started to wear thin as the warmth in the sun started to wain. As the tour boat reappeared out from Portree a larger ripple also appeared near to the minkes. Right on cue for all of us our humpback began to play.

H12First blow from the humpback

The second act happened fairly close to the boat and,  as it flicked the tail to finish we could hear cheering from the deck! A 10 minute lull in the action saw the boat heading for home and we gradually decided to follow their lead. It may have been a last glance but I think it was a distinctive blow that alerted us that our friend was back and this time heading straight towards us. Video of this is now on the Skye Guides facebook page.

H11The long white side fins clearly visible.

After another brief lull and even a few steps towards home we got our own display less than 200m away below us with a fanfare flick to finish.

H tailSay farewell 🙂

A great afternoon!

Monday looks like a good option for anyone keen, later in the week the wind is picking up but dry apart from Wednesday.

You may get views from other points along the sound but, for looking down and being able to appreciate the full size, I can’t recommend Beinn Tianavaig enough.

Grabbing Gabbro


The 5th of November was a day to remember with clear blue skies and even a frost on the ground. John, Iain & I enjoyed Pinnacle Ridge and the joys of rapid drying gabbro with just the occasional streak of black ice keeping us vigilant.

Pinnacle RidgeShady approach to Pinnacle Ridge

Yet again I was dumfounded to find even the shady northern aspects mostly dry; amazing after so much recent rain.

crux movesJohn & Iain on the crux slab with Marsco prominent behind.

I’ve been scuppered by black ice before so the crampons came along. Adding winter metalwork for the first time always hurts so it was also an opportunity to break myself in gently, especially as its nearly 6 weeks since I was last up on a big hill. Sadly the legs didn’t agree with my definition of “gently”.

steep finishSteep finish

With hardly a breath of wind John even had time to sketch during a relaxed summit lunch while Iain and I took on our quota of vitamin D.

sunning on the summitSummit Sunshine

 With the sun so low in the sky the colours, light and shadows gave us a visual feast all day but my lasting memory will be John extolling the joys of grabbing gabbro; I coudln’t agree more.

Stunning topoutSummit Shadows as we top out

2014 Seasons Highlights


Blogging had to be dropped down the priorities this year because we were so busy. There’ve been hundreds of outings led by a total of 15 excellent guides who have been a pleasure to work with. Rough estimates of the 2 main outings currently lie at 24 successful Ridge Traverses and over 200 clients up the In Pinn!

Alone on the PinnRegular John Seal solo on the In Pinn.

Many thanks to all of our guests this season who chose to visit Skye and let us show you some of our wonderful island; our job is always made that much easier with such a dramatic and beautiful environment.Thank you for the positive feedback as well which is always passed on but I’m sure you’ll join me in thanking all of the guides that helped make so many dreams come true- Francis, Gillian, Rich, Scott, Guy, Mike T, Jonny, Lou, Ian, Iain, Jamie, Tamsin, Dave & Murdoch.

Gill Rich WedRich & Gillian lead the dancing at Bunchrew House Hotel.

Congratulations to Gillian & Rich on tying the knot (boom boom). It was a great celebration and a few folk suggested quite possibly the biggest ever social gathering of Scottish mountain guides and instructors. Also in June, Scott Kirkhope and his partner Gillian were blessed with the birth of Gracie. A list of climbing congratulations for the guiding team, with their trips to Yosemite, alps and in Antarctica, actually just makes me green with envy. Suffice to say your guides are taking their “research” and “training” very seriously.

P1000849 (600x800)


I’ve put up a gallery of the best shots and some to remind me of my own highlights in years to come (its the only way I can remember). Sweetest of them all was the completion of the classic Alpine trilogy with my good friend Bill. Back when he was a youngster (60yo) we’d tackled the Matterhorn, 5 years later his lifelong ambition of the Eiger (65yo) and this year we spent 3 days completing the hardest of the all, a Cuillin Ridge Traverse. Mixed in with some dry rock were bursts of heavy rain on each day. Not many would have completed in the conditions we had, let alone raved about the pleasures of bivvying in soaking sleeping bags. At 75 years old Bill is the oldest person I know of to have succeeded and I can’t wait to see what he fancies for his 80th;-)

Knife edgeBill in action on his Traverse

CAVEAnd in bivvy cave number 2.