Blog > Skye

Skye Winter Festival 2020

28/10/19

January 24th to 2nd February 2020; 10 days for our 10th Anniversary!!

An open invitation to climbers, walkers and any others with an active interest in the Skye mountains in winter.

It’s that time again for climbers to meet up, climb together and enjoy the post-match analysis. The Cuillin truly take on their Alpine status in winter and offer climbing and scenery like nowhere else in Britain. There is a whole lifetime of adventures to be had!!

2020- A full week in the Glen then to up to Skye Basecamp for the weekend and annual dinner.

7 days of stepping straight out of the door and into a Cuillin winter wonderland. This was how the festival started back in 2011! The Glen Brittle Memorial Hut is situated at the foot of the southern Cuillin with easy access to Coir’ a Ghreadaidh, Coir’ a’ Banachdaich, Coire Lagan and Coir’ a’ Ghrunnda.

After 7 nights in the Glen the festival moves to the big smoke and 2 nights in the luxury of Skye Basecamp.

Background information.

Over the past 9 years  The Skye Winter Festival that has seen high levels of activity including over 60 new winter routes. The Cuillin offer massive challenges no matter how much or how little snow the gods decide to give us so there will be action every day.

The Skye Cuillin is an Alpine-style range offering mountaineering and climbing of the highest calibre that attracts real mountaineers but there is also a huge attraction for those who just enjoy being in amongst mountain scenery of such grandeur.

The festival is open to anyone between these 2 extremes and our only rule is that nobody gets left out! Come alone or with a climbing partner.

Guests come from far and wide as well as a strong local representation each year. The apres-climb is embraced wholeheartedly (interpret as you like); just choose a level that doesn’t stop the climbing! The festival has allowed us to meet some amazing people and hear about some incredible adventures.

The Climbing

Over the past 9 years we’ve well and truly blown the myth of the Cuillin being a poor option for winter climbing right out of the water. In 2018 Skye was the place to be with Traverses happening for over 8 weeks and multiple new routes. There is a whole mountain range of possibilities from hard-core mixed to truly alpine mountaineering.

White Wedding IV,4

 

 

It’s not all high-brow climbing with many parties enjoying the magnificence of the snow-clad Cuillin from the corries, easy peaks and the coast-line. There’s Neist or Elgol for rock climbing and we’ve got some dry tooling crags developed. Even skiing and boarding have been growing in popularity over the past few seasons.

What’s to do?

If you’re unfamiliar with what Skye has to offer check out any winter blog posts or an article on “The New Cuillin” for plenty of ideas. On the ground there are plenty of folk with good knowledge including the guy that wrote the guidebook…

Accommodation and Food

The meet will start in the newly refurbished Glen Brittle Memorial Hut right at the foot of the Cuillin.

Skye Basecamp will be our hosts for the following weekend. 

Beds cost £20 per night in both venues.

The Memorial Hut and Basecamp both have good kitchens for self-catering.

The annual dinner is a big communal evening meal on Saturday 1st February at a cost of £10pp. Not sure what we’ll go for but local venison steaks, genuine French fondue and full roast dinners have been the norm. Please join us and let your hair down!

Booking

If you’re interested in joining us just e-mail mike@skyeguides.co.uk to reserve beds. We’ll send you a booking form to complete with your climbing grade, Cuillin experience, and details to help with lift sharing. 

Bed reservations will need to be paid for but, if you are unsure if you can make it, we can also let you know how busy the different nights are looking.

Costs

Attending the festival is free. Accommodation costs £20 per night for a bed and Saturday evening meal will cost £10.

Evenings

This is very much a climbing event and the traditional banter associated with it. Wonderful characters and craic are the norm and over the years we’ve had illustrated talks on a variety of climbing trips and watched videos. Guests are welcome to bring anything from musical instruments to their own climbing snaps. 

The Annual Festival dinner is cooked communally.

 

 Social media

Please keep up to date through the Skye Winter Festival facebook page and retweet news using this shortened URL#skyewinterfest. Add your own photos to the facebook page and make sure that privacy settings allow everyone to see them please.

FAQ

Got your own campervan– You’re still welcome to join us for climbing & socially.

Last minute climber– We’re quite used to this scenario and happy for you decide to join us last minute. Keep in touch about bed space.

Unsure? Don’t worry if you don’t know the Cuillin- many of the Winter Festival regulars know the Cuillin very well, especially those who work here as guides. We’ll be offering route advice and information on the ground but, on the whole, it’s a non-working meet for us and we’re here to play like everyone else.

A list of attendees is circulated before the meet with details of their experience & depth of Cuillin knowledge. Through the meet walking and climbing teams slot into place after making acquaintances.

Don’t be intimidated- if your ambitions are modest there will be somebody similar who knows any time on Skye is quality and happy to just rock back and enjoy!

Travel– Let us know where you’re coming from and whether you want to share lifts- there’s a part of the part of the booking form to help put you together with others offering/needing lifts

 

Skye Winter Festival 2019

19/11/18

 

 

February 17th to 25th 2019

An open invitation to climbers, walkers and any others with an interest in the Skye mountains in winter.

It’s that time again for climbers to meet up, climb together and enjoy the post-match analysis. The Cuillin truly take on their Alpine status in winter and offer climbing and scenery like nowhere else in Britain. There is a whole lifetime of adventures to be had!!

2019- Its time for a return to the Glen!

5 days of stepping straight out of the door and into a Cuillin winter wonderland. This was how the festival started back in 2012! The Glen Brittle Memorial Hut is situated at the foot of the southern Cuillin with easy access to Coir’ a Ghreadaidh, Coir’ a’ Banachdaich, Coire Lagan and Coir’ a’ Ghrunnda.

After 5 nights in the Glen the festival moves to the big smoke and 3 nights with our fine friends and the Waterfront bunkhouse at the Old Inn, Carbost.

Background information.

Over the past 8 years  The Skye Winter Festival that has seen high levels of activity including over 60 new winter routes. Over the years only 15 days out of 80 have seen no activity so come keen and you’ll get rewards.

The Skye Cuillin an Alpine-style range offering mountaineering and climbing of the highest calibre that attracts real mountaineers but there is also a huge attraction for those who just enjoy being in amongst mountain scenery of such grandeur.

The festival is open to anyone between these 2 extremes and our only rule is that nobody gets left out! Come alone or with a climbing partner.

Guests come from far and wide as well as a strong local representation each year. The apres-climb is embraced wholeheartedly (interpret as you like); just choose a level that doesn’t stop the climbing! The festival has allowed us to meet some amazing people and hear about some incredible adventures.

 

 

The Climbing

Over the past 8 years we’ve well and truly blown the myth of the Cuillin being a poor option for winter climbing right out of the water. In 2018 Skye was the place to be with Traverses happening for over 8 weeks and multiple new routes. There is a whole mountain range of possibilities from hard-core mixed to truly alpine mountaineering.

 

 

It’s not all high-brow climbing with many parties enjoying the magnificence of the snow-clad Cuillin from the corries, easy peaks and the coast-line. There’s Neist or Elgol for rock climbing and we’ve got some dry tooling crags developed. Even skiing and boarding have been growing in popularity over the past few seasons.

What’s to do?

If you’re unfamiliar with what Skye has to offer check out any winter blog posts or an article on “The New Cuillin” for plenty of ideas.

Accommodation and Food

The meet will start in the newly refurbished Glen Brittle Memorial Hut right at the foot of the Cuillin.

 Waterfront Bunkhouse at the Old Inn  will be our hosts for the following weekend. 

Beds cost £20 per night in both venues.

The Memorial Hut and Waterfront both have good kitchens for self-catering and pub meals are available next door in the Old Inn throughout the 2nd weekend.

The annual dinner is a big communal evening meal on Saturday 23rd at a cost of £10pp. Not sure what we’ll go for but local venison steaks, genuine French fondue and full roast dinners have been the norm. Please join us and let your hair down!

Booking

If you’re interested in joining us just e-mail mike@skyeguides.co.uk to reserve beds. We’ll send you a booking form to complete with your climbing grade, Cuillin experience, and details to help with lift sharing. 

Bed reservations will need to be paid for but, if you are unsure if you can make it, we can also let you know how busy the different nights are looking.

Costs

Attending the festival is free. Accommodation costs £20 per night for a bed and Saturday evening meal will cost £10.

Evenings

This is very much a climbing event and the traditional banter associated with it. Wonderful characters and craic are the norm and over the years we’ve had illustrated talks on a variety of climbing trips and watched videos. Guests are welcome to bring anything from musical instruments to their own climbing snaps. 

The Annual Festival dinner is cooked communally.

 

 Social media

Please keep up to date through the Skye Winter Festival facebook page and retweet news using this shortened URL#skyewinterfest. Add your own photos to the facebook page and make sure that privacy settings allow everyone to see them please.

FAQ

Got your own campervan– You’re still welcome to join us for climbing & socially.

Last minute climber– We’re quite used to this scenario and happy for you decide to join us last minute. Keep in touch about bed space.

Unsure? Don’t worry if you don’t know the Cuillin- many of the Winter Festival regulars know the Cuillin very well, especially those who work here as guides. We’ll be offering route advice and information on the ground but, on the whole, it’s a non-working meet for us and we’re here to play like everyone else.

A list of attendees is circulated before the meet with details of their experience & depth of Cuillin knowledge. Through the meet walking and climbing teams slot into place after making acquaintances.

Don’t be intimidated- if your ambitions are modest there will be somebody similar who knows any time on Skye is quality and happy to just rock back and enjoy!

Travel– Let us know where you’re coming from and whether you want to share lifts- there’s a part of the part of the booking form to help put you together with others offering/needing lifts

 

August update

28/08/15

No, Skye hasn’t drowned and all guiding stopped. In fact the island has been busier than ever before and, as we rapidly approach September, bed space is still very hard to find.P1020764

The Skye Guides team has been flat out and, despite the worst summer in living memory, we’ve succeeded in getting the majority of ambitions achieved. Feedback from clients has been superb as people realise quite how skilled and knowledgeable our guides are. Equally the guides have been loving the challenges of choosing the right weather windows for Traverses, ingenious ropework to safeguard slippy terrain, keeping everyone focussed and finding the right way in near zero visibility. There is a feeling of immense satisfaction when it all comes together against the odds, some well earned beers, long hot baths and very solid sleep!P1000064

Many thanks to Andy Moles and Neville McBain for the superb images on this page from their successful Traverse on 18 & 19th August.

P1020769

The gallery below has a mixture of the best shots from the period; click the pic to view more.

Happy days!

Shining happy people having fun; April 2015

21/04/15

It’s been a busy beautiful time since Easter. Below are a selection of pictures of folk just having fun in the sun. Thanks to you all for bringing it and sharing some quality times. If anyone has shots from those days I forgot the camera please feel free to send them for me to add in.P1060342 P1060199 P1060259 P1060220 P1060216 Tourists P1060394 P1060396

Winter walking days; February 20-23rd

27/02/15

Weather always strongly affects what we suggest to do on any given day and there have been some challenging forecasts to interpret.

Damien & Sue booked a few days of winter walking around last weekend. Friday saw us take a 7 mile hike around the coast via Suisinish and Boreraig, villages abandoned in the Highland Clearances.

P1050607 (1024x768)Rising up out of Boreraig with Rum and a looming snow cloud in the background

We pushed the boat out on ambitions and made an ascent of Sgurr na Banachdaich, the easiest Black Cuillin, in perfect weather on Saturday ahead of an enforced rest day Sunday.

P1050634 (1024x768)Sue snapchatting everyone (apart from her mum) from the top.

We opted for 2 short (1.5hr) walks between showers and coffee shops on Monday, firstly out to the lighthouse at Neist Point

P1050645 (1024x768)

and then amongst the magical rock formations of the Quiraing.

 

Skye Winter Festival 2015 report.

22/02/15

Wow; what a fortnight. A huge thanks to everyone who came along to support the event, to Angus and all of the staff at the Old Inn for making us so welcome, to Annmarie for keeping us all domesticated and, perhaps most of all, to the weather gods for turning on the winter weather spectacularly. The only day when nothing was climbed was 25th January but it did mean that nobody was late for their Burn’s supper!

panoPanorama above the clouds from Friday 6th

Over 40 people all appeared to be having a good time whatever the weather threw at them and reaped the benefits of some spectacular conditions for both mixed and pure ice climbing. More than 20 new routes were added between grades I and VII. Over half of the participants lost their Cuillin winter virginity and now can’t decide if they are nymphomaniacs or just perverts 🙂

peepoStuart popping through Mo’s hole…..

Mentions in dispatches, in no particular order, go out to most folk and apologies if you’re not listed-

Craig, Rory & Dylan who embraced the spirit of the festival brilliantly despite their first day being more like a tropical typhoon than Scottish winter; they went on to add at least 4 new routes over the coming days.

P1050119Rory’s hole

Michael Barnard and partners for showing everyone quite how much Cuillin potential there is for the accomplished winter climber in the higher grades. He came up 3 weekends on the trot.

Skye HighMichael on Skye High V,7

Antoni for keeping the standards of single malt incredibly high despite less cultured alcoholic interference.

Jonny for his modest “I’m not a climber” achievements through the week including the In Pinn; every team should have a Jonny to break trail!

Lucy for services to the team including top-roping 5 folk on the icefalls in a blizzard then missing out herself and being first to balance up the In Pinn with only a nut key to clear cracks.

Pinn startLucy starting up the Pinn

James found Deep gash had little usable ice in it but his consolation route was the third ascent of Doug Scott’s The Smear!

And Romain, what can I say? For taking gaelic flare and passion for Skye & winter further than anyone thought possible, for winding me up to the great entertainment of everyone else and for surviving a diarrhoea filled car journey through drifts & blizzards.

RomainRomain

I loved all of my days out but there were a few particularly good highlights-

A team effort with good friends Beads, Antoni & David in the wild blizzards of Friday 30th to finally tackle the twin icefalls (they’ve teased for 20 years) high on Sgurr a’ Bhasteir. We aimed for the pair but the weather dictated that teamwork was the best idea.

trenchTrench warfare approaching Twicicle

Twicicle was a superb grade IV with Beads & I sharing the gear & the craic on lead. Another highlight that day was the huge relief at the whole festival team reappearing back in the corrie cave out of the maelstrom; phew.

JonnyJonny, Cat & Jo sheltering from the maelstrom on Friday 30th

On the Sunday I got a complete beasting at the hands of James on Con’s Cleft (VII,7). He’d run out of daylight 2 days earlier and I was more than happy to come and help him get the project finished. It was a fantastic effort from him, poor style on my part but a long term ambition put to bed and great to climb with James again for the first time in over a decade.

crux

James on the crux of Cons Cleft

Next day Ally & I were the only ones left and were rewarded with the first properly settled day of the meet. Onceicle had grown to suitable thickness, gave 45m of great steep fun and moonlight lit our walkout.

OnceicleOnceicle, just below the steepening

Wednesday dawned stunningly and I took a gamble to return to a mixed venue that had defeated me twice previously; the day turned out to be the highpoint of my festival. Lying on the north side of the West Ridge of Garbh-bheinn is a 100m high cliff of gabbro unusually adorned with loads of vegetation. Conditions were just right with frozen turf and oodles of ice smears. Mo, Stuart and I grabbed the first good looking line leading to a tight chimney with a crucial chockstone.

starfishMo on the crux chimney of Chockolates

Mo’s pitch started by poking herself through a tiny squeeze before some great moves to top out. Full of character we decided Chockolates was a 2 star V,6. With some daylight left we shot down again and Mo led off up Yat for the Doh, II- a Hong Kong phrase meaning “one for the road”.

For more images and tales see the festival Facebook page. For those who were there please put links to your own accounts and look closely at your privacy settings so that as many folk as possible can see anything you have shared with the Skye Winter Festival page. Any photos gratefully received.

Whale of a day!

10/11/14

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.

Fairy Pools and family fun on Fheadain from April 8th

24/04/14

 

Many thanks to young Henry Jackson for some beautiful photographs of his day out with me back at the start of Easter. Everyone did extremely well and kept on smiling even when the stinging hail hit us on top. Nobody had a dip but Henry’s long exposure pics are a credit to the Fairy Pools and his skills!

Harvey’s Cuillin map updates 2014.

13/12/13

Anyone unfamiliar with the Harvey SKYE THE CUILLIN map should treat themselves to a copy this xmas. The 1:25,000 scale map covers a huge area from Broadford, up to Sligachan, Carbost, Glen Brittle and right across to Elgol.  But it is the 1:12,500 enlargement of the Main Ridge makes it the only map of any real use to climbers and walkers wanting to explore the Ridge.

Skye: The Cuillin

It’s been an enjoyable task this week helping Peter Child at Harvey Maps with updates for the reprint in January. The project has been ongoing for quite a few years now; they reprint just about annually so map corrections can be easily added.

Paths

This year I suggested that some of the larger trails higher in the Cuillin could justify being added becuase they are comparatively easy to follow in good visibility. Pete was then able to double-check the ideas with aerial shots and produce an accurate end result that should aid a huge number of visitors.

Skye_cuillin_layout_2013_back copySgurr na Banachdaich is well recognised as the easiest Cuillin Munro to attain and the route has become well enough pronounced on the ground to mark it nearly to the summit.

Cliff numbering correlation with the SMC Guidebook

Correlating the SMC “SKYE THE CUILLIN” guidebook with the “SKYE THE CUILLIN” map has been the other major task.

Northern-Cuillin-Route-TopoPhotodiagram of the northern Cuillin seen from Sligachan; crags in red circles.

Skye_cuillin_layout_2013_back copyThe 1:12,500 enlargement orientated for viewing the northern Cuillin from Sligachan; crag numbers in red.

There are a total of 98 different crags from the book now all marked as close to the start of the climbing as possible. Previous editions of the map have, since 2004, had 55 crags marked; don’t worry these are all in the right place and match the map index. Fifty-five was the number of crags I thought the Cuillin had at the early stages of writing the guidebook. It was another 7 years before we went to print but the end result, particularly with these latest Harveys updates, means that climbers have a hugely increased chance of identifying and navigating to the cliffs they want to climb.

Signed copies of the Cuillin Guidebook can still be bought direct from us if you want another Christmas present!

 

Skye Trail

The most noticeable change on the 1:25,000 side is the addition of a section of The Skye Trail. Harveys also sell a map specific to the Skye Trail.

Skye Trail 2 variations are marked  in the Cuillin section for the more adventurous including a traverse of Bla Bheinn down to Camasunary and a detour into Coruisk via the Bad Step.

New materials

The 2014 map will also be the first made of the new generation of tough polyethylene that is both more waterproof but also far more resistant to tearing. Great news for all, including our guides who carry their valuable copies every day through all sorts of weather.

Finally I’d recommend browsing the Harvey maps website for a fascinating insight into how modern, high quality mapping is being done. Enjoy:-)

Single Track road advice.

26/06/13

Just a quick bit of writing I’ve been meaning to do for ages. Advice on how to drive up here on the single track roads is sparse so here’s my go. No incident provoked it; just somebody asking if driving up here is different-

Single Track road advice

The biggest single driving issue in the Highlands is how to deal with the many sections of single track roads. Advice is not broadly publicised and misunderstandings can be the cause of “road rage Highland style”.

Passing places on single track roads are marked with white diamond signs and are generally frequent and well placed for a driver concentrating & anticipating well. When a car is coming in the opposite direction convention is to keep driving forward to the mutually central passing place then pull over to the left-hand side to allow the vehicle coming the other way to pass. Equally the other car may pull over for you first so you should carry on driving rather than also pulling over. It is not unusual to accidentally over-run the passing place and you should be happy and prepared to reverse back.
Passing places are also very important to allow following traffic to overtake. If a vehicle comes up behind you should pull over as soon as possible to allow this. Not doing so is a great source of frustration for local drivers in particular and they will not be slow to let you know by flashing their lights and honking their horn. Being followed in this situation is not pleasant, can be distracting and dangerous. Allowing passing immediately relieves this problem and allows you to carry on enjoying the journey and scenery.

UPDATE- Watch this very short video clip for a musical explanation- Passing Places

 

After work Afterburn; 31st May

01/06/13

After work today Francis, Lou, Nathan & I all sneaked in some final climbs for May in the beautiful light at Elgol. I’ve never rated School-house Buttress much compared to the the main cliffs at Suidhe Biorach but have changed my mind now.

Lou & Francis were in action on Beekeepers Bother as Nathan and I arrived. Somehow I’d managed to avoid this, the best looking line on the crag. Their raving was enough to inspire me and their presence was enough to stop me wimping out when it got hard. A little hollow in places but superb climbing. Nathan followed in fine style and finished his week of work placement with his second E1 of the week.

I recommended an unlikely looking E2 behind the holiday cottage; bit of a sandbag it turns out as it is now given E3. Francis hung in well and enjoyed the surprisingly complex route finding for long enough for me to run around and take a fine selection of shots. Enjoy the gallery

 

Best view in Skye? Sgurr na Stri 29 March.

30/03/13

With the high peaks so clad  in white I suggested to the Furze team that we should, instead, visit the lowly but fantastic Sgurr na Stri.

Taking the Aquaxplore RIB into Coruisk gave a bracing but rapid approach to the jetty and a chance to envy the seals basking on the rocks.

As if the view from the head of Loch Coruisk isn’t enough, the graduaal rise towards Druim Hain threw up evr increasing numbers of snow-clad peaks until the entire Main Ridge was in view.

John, Somerset & I headed up to the summit of Sgurr na Stri while the others headed down for lunch at the Camasunary bothy (Michelin 3* views:)

The peak has 2 summits and on reaching the first summit a raven seemed reluctant to depart. Looking across at the 2nd summit 50m away a huge bird was sitting beside the cairn. With my 16X zoom I snapped a quick shot, studied it and concluded that it was just another raven. I was told I should have lied to keep the client happy but instead went one better. Our friend continued to sit there and eventually turned his head. This time the photo revealed a beautiful hooked beak and definite hints of gold.

Eventually our friend flew off, we scrambled up to his perch, sunny snacks then we had to leave. We spied the rest way below but caught them at the bothy in time for a delux picnic on the beach and the long but stunning  walk back out to Elgol as the sun glinted magically.

 

Shinty Victory. 5th February

06/02/13

Back row; Cameron, Max, Lachlan, Callum. Front row: Ruari (c), Nuan, Aaron

Congratulations to the South Skye shinty team who won the P4/5 tournament in Portree tonight. 10 teams from across the island competed but before now the trophy read Portree, Portree, Portree so this was a major accomplishment by the boys.

The South Skye team had lost the round-robin match to Portree Tigers 1-0.  The final was a superb close match; a brace of goals from Aaron set SS up well but a crucial penalty save by Max Stanicliffe at 2-1 up kept SS ahead.

Stalwart defending kept hearts in mouths and substitute Lachlan Macpherson knocked in a 3rd goal just before the final whistle to seal a well-deserved victory.

 

 

More surprises on the Ridge. 2nd February

04/02/13

The sublime conditions I predicted nearly happened yesterday but not quite; a heap of fresh powder overnight settled into a beautiful but scary crest on top of the narrowest section of ridges.

Chris and I headed up the West ridge of Dearg with an aim to do a round of Coire Lagan. The path was as icy as the road from the start and we donned crampons below 700m. The next hour was a sublime sunlit wander over solid snowpatches that soon merged into an icy blanket.

Encountering powder surprised me but the covering was only thin and easily avoided as far as Sron Dearg. Beyond I didn’t fancy the normal easy bypasses which were banked out with hard snow and a layer of powder so we roped up to tackle the narrow crest instead. Things were feeling quite intense by the time we reached the Pinn 20 minutes later.

Perfectly timed Cameron MacIvar was just appraoching the crux move on the Pinn in a bright orange jacket. There are some other excellent pics on his facebook page in the link above.

After taking a few shots Chris & I headed down surprisingly deep powder all the way to the head of the An Stac Screes before having a spot of lunch.

Traversing Mhicchoinnich was now looking seriously in doubt: would we be able to find the anchor to abseil from at the top of King’s Chimney? Intensity built up again as we gained height but we hit a section of perfect neve once more  just 200m from the summit and I felt a wave of confidence. A few steps further and my optimism was dashed as the beautiful looking crest turned out to be what Chris described as a “Patagonian-style” wave-top of deep powder.

Back-tracking still required concentration but finally reaching the safety of Loch Lagan was quite a relief. The atmosphere relaxed completely as we were greeted by Angus from the Old Inn who was up with his snow-boarding mates and the Great Stone Shoot in mind. Conditions weren’t suitable but it was great to see a variation on local interest in the Cuillin.

Back to more wild storms in the next few days; this seems to be turning into one of the biggest winters I’ve known in the Cuillin.

Skye Winter Skills Day, December 1st

02/12/12

11 of us enjoyed superb conditions and wonderful weather on an ascent of Sgurr a’ Bhasteir on Saturday the 1st. Amongst the group was a mix of summer hill walkers, climbers and mountaineers from Skye. Many thanks to everyone who turned up to make it such a huge success.We all climbed the left hand (NE) ridge of the beautiful pyramidal Sgurr a’ Bhasteir on the right.

I worried that Friday’s heavy rain might not stop but the skies cleared, temperatures dropped and everyone survived the icy roads to meet at Sligachan at 8am. The peaks were plastered with snow with descriptions varying from “Himalayan” to “iced cakes”.

The footpath was treacherously coated in black ice and gave everyone a full body work out just to stay upright. It was quite a relief to finally don the crampons at the steepening by the Basteir Gorge. Those wearing them for the first time were amazed at how positive they suddenly felt.

Underfoot conditions improved hugely once we reached the snow-line. Progress was tempered by a photography-fest as glorious vistas opened up all around us and a golden eagle even gave us a fly-by. After lunch Donald and Martin opted to head down to give themselves plenty of time to negotiate the icy slabs. The eagle again soared above us as we made very good speed to reach the summit and even more spectacular scenery.

Summit of Sgurr a’ Bhasteir 898m

At Bealach na Lice crampons were removed to allow some practice at ice-axe arrest on a quick descent back into Coir’ a’ Bhasteir. We also briefly looked at how to treat delicate Cuillin ice before having to put crampons back on for the painful return over the icy slabs. We all managed this and most of the return journey before darkness finally engulfed us and the head-torches came into their own.

Everyone had a great time and one suggestion is to set-up a local facebook group for anyone keen to get out.

Free Winter Skills this Saturday 1st December

27/11/12

Saturday December 1st
Sligachan, 8-30 am. Free Winter Skills day. Suitable for those with summer walking experience with an interest in the Cuillin in winter. Also anyone with winter experience keen to meet other locals. Bring normal hill-walking kit. Some crampons and axes available. Contact Mike Lates on 01471 822 116 or e-mail mike@skyeguides.co.uk

With snow on the ground and a cold forecast through to the end of the week this is a rare opportunity to plan a good day out.

The day is aimed at Skye and Lochalsh based folk with experience of exploring the Cuillin in summer. We will head into Coir’ a’ Bhasteir or up Sgurr a’ Bhasteir and mix new skills with walking to keep warm!

Normal hill-walking kit with good quality boots crucial. Gaitors & spare gloves too. Please call with questions and if you need to borrow crampons and ice axe; ideally we’ll try to fit these beforehand. Daylight is very short so we need to set off promptly and head torches are important.

This is a social as much as anything so please don’t feel intimidated. As the wording says above please do come along if you already know what you’re doing and just fancy meeting up & helping out. Please drop me a line if you are keen but no commitment needed.

 

 

 

Missing beach!

16/11/12

I haven’t visited my local bouldering spot on the Moll (NG563 316) since last year so was a bit shocked to see a big rockfall as I approached.

 

 

 

 

As I got closer I realised that the change was actually that my beautiful flat shingle beach had been washed away revealing jaggedy ankle-twisting boulders.

 

 

 

 

Here’s a shot of me playing last year; at my feet you can just see a white band of quartzite-

The next shot shows the same quartz band  now that the shingle has been washed away-

The bad landing put me off anything at all poky and I’m now faced with a choice-clear what I can & buy a bouldering mat or sandbag the base and spend a few hours reconstructing 10m of beach. There are good anchors at the top so top-roping is the other option.

It may only be wee but I don’t know of many solid outcrops of rock with so many positive holds on Skye. Once my arms hurt enough I took a wander further south along the shore towards the fish farm. There were a few more spots to play around but all with poor landings again.

It’s a fascinating section of shoreline with obvious otter debris but it was the huge array of ancient car debris that provided most amusement. The trees are all far too big to be able to have got cars through for many a year. Antique car buffs would have a field day.

Driest place on Skye? Neist 8 November

09/11/12

Mists clung to the Cuillin and heavy showers were sweeping through so Ally and I headed to Neist Point yesterday.

Not wanting to venture too far from the car we set up an abseil at the top of Sonamara so that we could cram in as much climbing as possible.

My favourite warm-up route isn’t in the new guidebook. It’s a Very Difficult standard climb just round to the right of Sonamara that stays dry in the lower half thanks to an overhanging rib of rock above. I’ll christen it Shelterstone, V. Diff, 20m for now and get it recorded somewhere.Walls of water swept in towards us but seemed to part and miss us, somewhat biblically, every time. We even had bursts of warm sunshine.

We squeezed in ascents of Sonamara and Baywatch before getting Ally set up for his first lead. He placed the gear back into Shelterstone whilst on abseil then I came down to check it. Pleasently surprised to find every placement a bomber it was an easy choice to send Ally straight back up without much further ado. Duck to water I’d say;)

The man who met Norman Collie

23/10/12

Skye-born Munro-bagger’s link with Cuillin history.

In May this year our Skye Guide Malcom Airey guided 79 year old Alasdair MacPherson, along with his daughter Fiona, on an ascent of the Inaccessible Pinnacle. Malcolm was amazed to hear that Alasdair had once met the great Cuillin pioneer Professor J. Norman Collie.

Alasdair was born in Kraiknish by Eynort in 1932, the 2nd of 7 sons born to Duncan & Margaret MacPherson. In 1938, on a return journey from an auntie’s house in the Braes, he was taken to the Sligachan Hotel. It was here that Norman Collie was pointed out to him in the hotel lounge. Although his own encounter was very limited it seems that Collie was well known amongst the local crofters both through the hotel and accompanying him on the hill.

Collie had discovered the joys of climbing on Skye in 1887 and went on to pioneer many climbs throughout the world but made no secret that his heart lay in the Cuillin. He had retired to Skye shortly before Alasdair’s encounter with him and lived at the hotel for nearly a decade looking out on the peaks he knew so well. He died in 1942 and was laid to rest in a grave adjoining that of his Skye Guide and good friend John Mackenzie for whom he had so much admiration.

Alasdair himself left the island at the age of 18, qualified as a veterinary surgeon at Glasgow University and is now retired and living in Stonehaven. Having climbed the hardest of all the Munros he now has only 34 peaks left to compleat his round.

Blog bubble bursts 27th June 2012

27/06/12

Many apologies to regular blog followers for nearly a month of “radio silence”. The weather has been to blame but for all of the right reasons.  June continued the Spring of 2012 trend of nearly wall to wall sunshine and hardly a raindrop worth remembering. I’ve just checked on the records for Carbost weather that shows just 1.1 inch of rain in the past month of which 15% fell in the last 24 hours! The misty Isle is finally serving up some proper rain which is very hard for us to deal with emotionally; some of us may neeed counselling about just how unfair and wrong it is to have to actually wear a waterproof jacket!

 

As a consequence of the fine weather we have been working our socks off, clients have been achieving far more than they ever imagined and the phone hasn’t stopped ringing from those who want to join the party! There have been so many highlights I’ve very little idea of where to start in choosing suitable images; I’ll put as big a variety as possible & I apologise to anyone that I’ve missed out.

Using a syphon to collect where normally there is a huge flow of water


Dawn panorama from Sgurr Alasdair, 4-30am (Andy Hillen)

 

 

Fundraising for the Rock Trust by climbing all the Scottish Munros in a weekend; 16/17th June

 

Finally getting a chance to take Skye-based film Director up the Pinn 7 years after we first shot the award winning Gaelic language film Seachd which was titled The Inaccessible Pinnacle in English. More recently Chris has had huge success with both the TV series and film of The Inbetweeners. Also with us was Rhianna from Youngfilms and Johnny Barrington who has sent a link to his new film’s trailer- https://vimeo.com/18812335

 

 

 

 

Martin on Pure Splendor, E2 5b at Elgol

 

Simon showing good confidence crossing Clach Glas

Diedre out there at Kilt on Secret Service, HVS

Heaven is a pool in the sun!!