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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

 

Day 2. Sat 19th Jan

23/01/13

Recovering from a heavy night on the Fondue (supplied by Romain) teams headed out all over the Glen Brittle corries.

 

Steve Perry & Antoni went out on Casteil a Garbh Choire and did a good mixed line-

Caisteal a’ Garbh Corrie; South End (Winter) IV,5**
30m. Follow the distictive crack until it ends on a stance. Finish up the short steep wall on your left.
Steve Perry and Antoni Anderson.
Dave & Nathan enjoyed Gully C on Thearlaich- “bit like Lockwoods chimney”.
James Sutton & Ben Wear, the Skye boys, did a superb climb up Dyke Gully & Buttress @ V,6 “best route I’ve done on Skye said James.
Iain & Andy climbed a new route they called Perspex Groove (IV?), a rising diagonal low on Window Buttress.
Paul & Brendan ventured into Coir’ a’ Ghrunnda, were thwarted by the impressive North Crag Gully falls but enjoyed stunning vistas from Dubh na Da Bheinn.
Spike & Icky rediscovered the great ice formations on Banachdaich at the head of the south branch of Coir’ a’ Ghreadaidh.
Ann-Marie, Kim, Nicola & I chose the Spur of Sgurr an Fheadain which had been transformed from it’s normal wonderful rock scramble to a fantastic snowy crest with perfect hard snow from bottom to top; 650m II.
Below us the Skye teams of Beads, Murdo & Norman, Matt & Lisa were climbing (as 2 ropes with different variations) a new route with an (as ever) inspiring name-
Hubble, Bubble, Toil & Trouble
III 3 500m .follow right edge of Waterpipe (geddit?) Gully over easy rock and turf up to a rock barrier climbed by an obvious left slanting groove, then an awkward step into a gully leading to the more commiting top section, with a choice of chimneys,small walls leading to the summit ridge of Sgurr an Fheadain.
Over on Blabheinn, and not part of the meet, Iain Small and Simon Richardson pulled off an audacious ascent of Jib, a summer E1 giving it a grade of VIII,8. Simon’s excellent site Scottish Winter has his report.

Image gallery below-

 

Coire Lagan Footpath Maintainance this Saturday

17/01/13

Just spotted a notice in the WHFP announcing that the Highland Ranger service is carrying out maintainance on the Coire Lagan path on Saturday (19th). Please do  call Jenny on 01471 820 527 if interested in volunteering (I think so she can bring enough shovels etc.)

Forecast is looking pretty good so well worth making the effort.

Crowded Cuillin Carparks :) 11 December

14/12/12

As we headed down to the Glen frosted vehicles already parked at Sligachan and the beach were an indication that the fine conditions has attracted suitors for the Traverse.

Icky & I were lucky enough to have completed a Traverse back in 2001 and, instead, fancied trying some of the ice we had spied in Coire Lagan last week. We invited Neil from Portree to join us for his first play with 2 technical ice axes.

Sadly the sun and thaw over last weekend had stripped this south-facing buttress right back to bare rock. Instead the North-west Ramp of Sgurr Sgumain looked a good option once more.

We put on the crampons from the lochan and headed up beautiful solid neve, mixing it with a few steps of ice for Neil to get used to some steeper manouvres. Normally I head out left to the foot of the ramp but today a direct approach pitch looked possible.

Heathcote’s Gully

Heathcotes Gully lies directly above Neil’s head; the normal start to NW ramp lies out left.

Heathcote’s Gully is an 80m Moderate route that acts as an outflow for all the water pouring off this side of Sgumain that gains the NW Ramp route at half height. It has always looked unattractive in the past; in 1892 Heathcote described it as “steep with scanty footholds”. Today it was largely banked out with a couple of short ice steps. I found lovely solid placements in the first step but needed some clever footwork to reach the good ice in the second. I needn’t have bothered racking all the gear because the compact waterworn walls yeilded not a sausage. The belay above was little better; a well-equalised mix of warthog, bulldog, axes & 2 very shallow blades.

Fortunately the stance was good and Neil cruised up the steep sections with Icky close behind. I’m sure this feature has been climbed in winter before, probably unnoticed under a good bank-out, but will add a grade of II with a note about no rock gear to the SMC records.

NW Ramp

Having climbed this route a few more times since the guidebook went to print I would suggest that grade I is a bit of a sandbag. The steepening was well banked out for Neil and I to move together but slabs above involve an unprotectable rising traverse, required delicacy and the position is daunting. Grade II is far more suitable.

We topped out into a blaze of sunshine and views out to the Hebrides for which I’ve run out of superlatives.

Sgurr Sgumain (947m)

We stomped easliy to the top of Sgurr Sgumain and watched a team of 4 abseil into the TD Gap nearing the end of their Traverse.

As we continued towards Alasdair the narrow crest and steep flanks ate into time and darkness wasn’t far away so we decided to make one long abseil to the safety of snow slopes below. Another first for Neil this and, as before, he coped admirably.

Traverse successes

On the long walk out of Ghrunnda we were passed by the Traverse team of Guy Steven, Donald King, Kenny Grant & Duncan still romping along despite having been on their feet since half past one in the morning!

Pinn to Cioch link. 11th May

11/05/12

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!

11/05/12

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.

10/05/12

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

06/05/12

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

04/05/12

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

04/05/12

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 no6luib@gmail.com 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

02/05/12

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

01/05/12

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.

A day of 3 halves; 30th April

30/04/12

Waking in decent weather was a bonus but sadly the poor weather arrived mid-morning after commiting to  Pinn attempt. What wasn’t expected was the absolutely howling gale with big gusts that accompanied the snow.

I was very glad to have Ben Wallace along to belay me & help Ann-Marie, Jenny & Andy take my runners out of both pitches. Luckily the rime ice wasn’t on any of the horizontal holds, the snow stopped, winds died down as we climbed and the clouds parted to give great windows out to Rum.

Blaven appearing behind Andy as he tops out on the Pinn.

Congratulations to Jenny, Andy & Ann-Marie. We cracked on to Mhiccoinnich and before we reached the summit the tops were all clear.

Looking back to the Pinn. “Glad we couldn’t see it when we were on it!”

and happy girls looking back at Mhicchoinnich. Note the snow in the Stone Shoot.

Sadly the joy didn’t last with United failing us this evening but it ain’t over til the fat lad sings. More importantly A-M has finally climbed the Pinn after xxxxxx years of Cuillin climbing. See ya again soon me darling 😉

Ridge Traverse

30/04/12

Matt`s Report

Just finished a successful ridge traverse with Neil. We had scorching sunshine, snow, rain and the usual quota of amazing views.

The start

Soay, Eigg and Rhum

Kings Chimney

Sunset

Flodigarry Fun

28/04/12

Matt`s Report

Great day at the beautiful sea-cliffs of Flodigarry. Thanks to John, Norman and Murdo for a fun day in the sunshine! And for any surfers Staffin Bay looked clean and according to John would have been a lovely 3 foot swell.

Gillean & Basteir, 27th April

27/04/12

Had a great day out today despite the fresh coating of snow below 2000 feet. Matt & Sam climbed most of the Tourist Route on Sunday before the mist stopped play. Today I pointed out the easiest line to them while we tackled the narrow crest above which is one of my favourite sections of gabbro in the whole Cuillin. Snow made the ascent extra exciting.

Rime on the rocks

South East Ridge of Gillean taken direct (grade 3)

The West Ridge descent was very challenging but we still had enough in the tank to climb Am Basteir too. I’ll let the photos do the talking-

Heading through the Window at the top of the West Ridge

Retrieving the rope after abseiling the foot of the West Bridge

Matt climbing back up the Bad Step on Am Bastier

Stunning views back at the end of the day

Ice & wind means no go up the Pinn.

25/04/12

Despite a crack of dawn start to beat the predicted gales John & I were scuppered onour attempt to scale the Pinn today. I hadn’t forseen a coating of rime ice and a howling buffeting wind really made the Pinnacle Inaccessible today.

We headed north over Banachadaich and briefly indulged in some good scrambling on the 2nd top before ducking out of the gusting wind once more.

Cold Traverse 23/24 April

24/04/12

A few images from a hard won Traverse success with Iain over the past few days. Bitter temperatures and late snows were countered by mostly dry rock and a plenty of determination.

AquaXplore drop-off again.

Pitching across Collie’s Ledge

In Pinn summit

Sunset glory

Frosty morning

2nd abseil traversing Bidean Druim nanRamh

Misty finish over the north end; Martin Moran & client on Am Basteir

Am Basteir, the Tooth and Bruach na Frithe. 19th April

19/04/12

On Gary & Craigs last day we were just going to visit Am BAsteir and Bruach na Frithe but plans changed when Neil & Helen caught up with us and planted the idea of visiting the Basteir Tooth.

Stunning views on the approach; L-R Gillean, Am Basteir and Sgurr a’ Bhasteir

Final ascent to Bealach a’ Bhasteir

An abseil took us down to the Bhasteir nick-

Helen and Neil pulling the rope back down from the 1st abseil

from where a short rise leads to the top of the Tooth

We had to drop out of the sunny side and excitingly through the iced up slot of King’s Cave Chimney to reach our 2nd abseil point.

Craig enjoying himself far too much!

Gary equally happy; not quite what he envisaged on his Munro’s course this week!

Helen established that the kids were running the shop (Cioch Direct Outdoor Clothing) well enough that they didn’t need to run away so we all headed out to Bruach na Frithe to take in yet more of the wonderful views.

Gary snaps it up from Fionn Choire on our descent

Guy & Neil descended Sgurr a Bhasteir to prolong the fun while the rest of us headed for a well-earned pint at Sligachan; cheers to the Urquharts for an inspiring day out!

Pinnacle Ridge and Sgurr a Bhasteir

Sun & Snow fun on Ghreadaidh, 18th April

18/04/12

Guy and I went out with my good friend Chris today. He’s tackled all the easier Cuillin but never ventured onto the narrower ridges. Yesterdays snows had become solid in the overnight frost so we put the crampons on way below An Dorus; playing in crampons another first for Chris!

On the western flank of Mhadaidh with Ghreadaidh looming above and Alasdair in the background

We were greeted by stunning views down into Coruisk and out in every direction. After lunch on Mhadaidh we crossed An Dorus and found the snow on Ghreadaidh to be totally different, soft and thawing rapidly.

Ascending snow slopes on Ghreadaidh with Thuilm behind

Chris and Guy on top with Portree in the background

We removed crampons for the descent because they were more of a hazard than help. For a bit of added spice I opted to descend the dark narrow slot of Eag Dubh “Black Notch”. Normally it’s a dank greasy place but crammed full of deep snow it gave us great entertainment in wonderful rock scenery.

Deep inside Eag Dubh

Re-emerging into the sunlight


A couple of snow showers passed over our heads during the descent but were replaced by bright sunshine before we got wet.

Looking back up to Sgurr a’ Mhadaidh and Sgurr a’ Ghreadaidh

Winter wonderland once more, 17th April

18/04/12

Incredible amounts of snow fell overnight giving Craig & Gary a totally different Cuillin experience. On Monday Matt guided them up onto the Pinn and then traversed north right up to Sgurr a’ Mhadaidh all on glorious dry rock.

Sgurr Mhicchoinnich was the plan and it emerged from the cloud right on cue as we reached a very snowy Coire Lagan

Stomping up deep anow was easier than the usual An Stac Screes but we needed crampons as soon as we hit the Ridge. Guy Steven is up working with us for a few days so he paired up with Craig while I climbed with Gary. It was slow work clearing holds but we reached the summit safely in about an hour from Bealach Coire Lagan.

Delicate footwork on the crest of Sgurr Mhicchoinnich

Great view of Alasdair and Thearlaich behind but not in these conditions!

Crystal clear on the Dubhs, 16 April

16/04/12

Everyone out in the Cuillin must have had a great day today, in fact everyone out in the whole of the highlands from the views we had.

Derek had done the Main Ridge Traverse with me back in 2009 and had fancied the Dubh Ridge ever since. He booked the day & weather to be as good as last time and I was glad to oblige!

Thanks to AquaXplore ran us in good and early

There were dozens of seals basking in the morning sun.

The mighty Dubh Ridge rising straight out of Loch Coruisk

Sweeping slabs give hours of superb scrambling

The route is very long and it was over 2.5 hours before we reached the top of the first peak, Dubh Beag

The free-hanging abseil was made more exciting with the wind blowing the ropes way off course

As predicted it took us over 4 hours to reach the main summit of Dubh Mor but we weren’t exactly hurrying with stunning vistas around every turn.

Looking at the In Pinn from Dubh Mor

The predicted front was approaching fast so we took the most direct descent across the head of Coir’ a’ Ghrunnda and down the Sgumain Stone Shoot.

Deer totally unphased by us being so close on the way down.

Heavy falls of fresh snow 15th April

15/04/12

Woke to a wintry scene this morning with snow right down to 150m. The sun has thinned the cover on south facing slopes like the photo of Glamaig below but the north facing ledges will be holding for a while ahead.

South face of Glamaig this morning

Those with serious intentions on the Cuillin may well be wise to bring crampons with them.

Sunset Spectacular; April 13th

13/04/12

I’ve long thought about producing a calendar of sunset shots from the house here in Luib and tonight’s is yet another one to add to the possible candidates; enjoy…..

Mid-section Munros; 12th April

13/04/12

Yesterday was one of those “every season in a day” outings as Colin, John & I traversed the classic round of Coir’ a’ Ghreadaidh and its 3 Munros. I ordered clear skies and sunshine for about midday to allow us to tackle the narrow ridge on dry rock and enjoy the views at the same time……

Ghreadaidh begins to appear out of the mist just above An Dorus

Full panorama 5 minutes later from the top of Mhadaidh

John Parkin on his final Cuillin Munro Sgurr a’ Greadaidh. 7 days and 25,000ft of hard work! Congratulations John

Colin revelling in the exposure on the narrow traverse to the south top of Ghreadaidh

The snow started falling just as we started the final rise to Banachdaich and everything was coated within a matter of minutes.

Not quite enough for a ski descent of Banachdaich’s West Ridge

20 minutes later and we were all stripping off the jackets as the hot sunshine returned to dry us out.

John & Colin study where they have been

More hot rock at Elgol, 11 April

11/04/12

The northerly wind gave an icy blast but the south facing cliffs at Elgol were a real sun-trap again today.

Siobhan showed excellent footwork on the practice crag while Phil was keener on using his arms.

Monkey man!

We also practiced gear placements before heading onto the Main cliff.

It works!

With the tide well in we had to do an abseil approach.

30m abseil approach. The triple roof to the right is the first pitch of India, E3.

After enjoying the superb Fertility Right we lunched on Paradise Ledge before dropping down to climb Fertility Left.

Paradise lunchspot.

Phil still had energy to burn so he finished off on the classic VS, Jamie Jampot.

Phil celebrates in style

Martin & Howard were also down enjoying the sun with Martin muttering something about it not being as easy without ice axes.

Howard finishing the highly photogenic Hairy Mary, VS

Sunshine, showers & snow; must be April

10/04/12

The weekend’s rain eased to showers today and the improvement is forecast to continue.

Matt took Ros & Andrew for a Cuillin intro up Sgurr a’Bhasteir & Bruach na Frithe; a gift voucher finally cashed in after nearly 2 years of planning sounded like it hit the mark nicely.

Good covering of white stuff still on the tops

Scott guided John onto Am Basteir then over Gillean and back down the Tourist route. Conditions in the chimneys on the West Ridge sounded quite full-on with well glazed rocks but the crest of the Ridge all sounded fairly friendly.

John glad to be past the narrows at the foot of the West Ridge

I had fun introducing Juan and Anastacia to rock climbing for the first time. The crags at Elgol kept the cold wind off and it was positively hot when the sun came out.

Fertility Right, a 2 star Severe in the new Skye Seacliffs guidebook (SMC 2012)available from us direct

A heavy shower mid-afternoon didn’t dampen enthusiasm or the rocks too much so we finished off up Fertility Right.

Wow ****!


Superb effects over the Cuillin from Elgol

Update 8 April 2012

08/04/12

Apologies for the lack of blogging recently; technical hitches are to blame but sorted now. It’s been a right mixed bag of weather which is forecast to continue through the week ahead as pulses of cold air compete with atlantic incursions.

Back in the hot week at the end of March a highlight was taking our Ruari up Window Buttress to the In Pinn on his 9th birthday; a fine effort on a beautiful day.

The proverbial Pig in Muck abseiling from the Pinn.

The very rare purple saxifrage was open a lot earlier than I can ever remember too.

Purple saxifrage

Last weekend started with a great traverse of Blaven and Clach Glas done back-to-front to the normal way.

Looking across to the Main Ridge on Monday 2nd April.

This was so that we could accompany Nick’s swollen ankle on the Normal Route up Blaven initially. Exposure & difficulties this way around is considerably greater (or so it feels) so no action photos I’m afraid.

Tim taking in what he had just done (up & down Clach Glas, the Matterhorn of Skye) on his first Cuillin outing; fine effort.

Next day we woke to a full-on wintry scene. Pinnacle Ridge idea was shelved and the Tourist Route and down the West Ridge proved more than enough for the day.

Starting the South-East Ridge of Gillean with Blaven in the background.

I donned crampons for the descent but we left Tim without; it was a close call but a first crampon experience on glazed rocks was just likely to add to difficulties as opposed to easing them!

Looking through the Window at the start of the West Ridge descent.

Tim still looking happy after his first abseil at the foot of the West Ridge

Next day we opted to stay low and climbed Sgurr an Fheadain. The build up of ice in the corrie was amazing; all too thin to climb but illuminating in terms of future potential.

Looking from the summit towards the north face of Sgurr a Mhadaidh. The Smear, V, is the obvious icefall.

Yesterday Jon & i had an early start to get the Pinn whilst dry. We failed on the weather front but climbed the Pinn and Mhicchoinnich on greasy rocks anyway.

Staffin Slip. 28th March

28/03/12

Francis, Tony and Blair took me for my first day of rock climbing for the season today. Staffin cracks are fierce and pretty unrelenting so good body ache tonight.

Blair high on Gorbachov, E2 5b

Francis gardening the start of Lats in Space

Lats in Space E1, 5b

Tony on Woman of the Eighties, E3, 5c

Francis on Lat up a Drainpipe, HVS 5a

The beach was beautiful this evening as mists rolled across the Trotternish Ridge.

Highlight of the day however was finally finding my first dinasaur footprint set in the sandstone near the slipway itself-

Apparently footprint of a relative of Megalasaur circa 200 million years old!

Commando Crack

24/03/12

Matt Report

Summer has appeared in the Cuillin so Lee and I went off to do Commando Crack- a classic 100m Hard Severe route on the South Face of Sgurr Alasdair. This top quality route has a mix of chimneys, chockstones and laybacks. The crags are all bone dry and well worth a visit if you have some time in the next few days.