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Skills and Snorkelling 27 & 28 Feb

02/03/12

It’s amazing to finally be able to stand out and stargaze again tonight at last after an undeniably rough few weeks of weather. Despite this the guys earlier in the week proved how much fun and excitement can be had in the Cuillin with the right attitude.

Winter has well gone!

My brief was to give a revision of mountaineering skills for guys who have climbed mountains across the world. We rehearsed moving together indoors on Monday morning then put it into practice traversing from An Dorus to Banachdaich.

Roped up & ready to go

The rope was well managed and appreciated with buffeting winds and greasy rock on terrain the guys would have flown along in dry weather.

 Concentration on the narrow ridge of Sgurr a’ Ghreadaidh

Next day we upped the anti and tackled Pinnacle Ridge of Gillean and down the West. The water on the lens seems to add to the atmosphere quite dramatically. Good buzz!

Traversing the narrow ledge at the start of Knight’s peak

What drop?

Escape down the large snow fields to the east was uninviting so we pushed on to Gillean but dodged out to the West Ridge rather than summit.

Finishing the crux pitches


 and the strain showing

Well, it is my job to be happy!

Scrambling Skills. 17th Febraury

17/02/12

With heavy rain due after lunch we decided to give winter skills a miss and enjoy some Cuillin scrambling. We hit pretty lucky with rolling mists but just light showers.

Scotch Mist effects with the huge Western Buttress behind

I opted for a tour of some impressive rock scenery on Cioch Buttress. Tim & Hui moved together using short-roping skills learnt at the indoor session yesterday. I led the less experienced Nat & Andy to show the way.

Lower Cioch Buttress showing our line- all about grade 2 scrambling


We started up into the Amphitheatre then up Cioch Gully. Half-way up this, before the rock climbing starts, a chimney breaks left and crosses Cioch West.

Nat contemplating the mantle-shelf out of a hole trick


One more 25m scramble leads up to the Terrrace below the Cioch. We had lunch here before following the Terrace back out to the Sgumain Stone Shoot.

Forcan Ridge. Monday 13th

16/02/12

We all headed over to the mainland in search of dry weather on Monday. With warm rain still falling a team ascent of the Forcan Ridge was the decision.

Kitted up & ready to go

The route was in entertaining form with a mix of icy steps, soft snow & wet rock and the rope very welcome. A classic winter scramble and a worthy neighbour to the Cuillin my favourite part is always the mega bumslide from the summit.

Reaching the rock step on the Forcan Ridge before the final snowy section


Rope-work for scrambling. Friday 10th Feb

13/02/12

Grant & Susan have got ropes etc and done some leading in the past but wanted specific techniques for scrambling in the Cuillin. We started with a couple of hours of indoor training here in Luib then, when it had stopped raining, headed out t put things into practice. Sgurr an Fheadain is a great option for this with only a short approach and nearly 2000ft of terrain to practice on.

After a short deomonstration on the opening slabs I passed the rope over to Helen & Grant who worked well together safely to the summit.

Grant looking like the “real deal” in clothes that only an alpine guide would dare to wear!


Success!


Skye Winter Meet no.2 report 4th Feb. Rest day.

08/02/12

Saturday the 4th dawned as appaling as predicted and I took full advantage of an empty dorm & no alarm. Tidying up & firesetting was followed by making my first ever vat of soup- very fine & simple it was too.

Chris rode up the glen with a tail-wind before a gear problem meant he had a right scrap to get back down again.

Karen & Simon returned right on cue to appreciate the soup, drenched to the bone from an attempt to get above the freezing level that had always been doomed but spirits weren’t dampened. The rain stopped suddenly and before we knew it the clouds parted to reveal a good covering of snow still remaining down to below 700m. It was the perfect recipe for yet more conditions is the skies would just stay clear & temperatures drop.

Spike & Matt had spent the day making the annual dinner and were due to deliver  the Indian feast as soon as the rugby had finished. Typically inconsiderate timing saw the water supply fail and with a sense of deja vu I prepared to go in over the waist to clear the intake pipe. First I tried the more intelligent bleeding approach I’d been taught last year. Thankfully I was saved from the icy dip!

The meal was great but partying kept pretty minimal with the prospect of some good climbing next morning. I’m sure my wee slide show on Cuillin history helped everyone drop off quickly.

Garbh-bheinn; rope training. 22 January

22/01/12

John, Steve, Marco, Ed, Tom & Spud are off to the alps this summer and have chosen the Cuillin for their alpine training course. After a couple of hours refresher in the warmth of the Luib office we headed just up the road to Garbh-bheinn to put it into practice.

Approaching up the NW ridge of Garbh-bheinn; Red Cuillin behind.

We roped into 3 seperate parties to descend a steep gully to the foot of the north face before discussing & setting up an abseil for everyone to learn from.

Concentration as Spud tests the anchors and checks that the rope reaches!

Tom feeling confident.

Marco with the snow-clad North face of Garbh-bheinn behind.

Main-man Ed with sunlit Belig behind.


New guidebook arrives- Skye Sea-cliffs and Outcrops

17/01/12

Great news today is that first copies of the new SMC guidebook Skye Seacliffs and Outcrops have arrived back from the printers and should be on the shelves in the next couple of weeks.

 

Covering all of Skye outwith the Cuillin and our closest neighbouring island of Raasay. The book shows hundreds of new possibilities on the sundrenched cliffs at Neist, soaring jamming cracks at Kilt, solid sandstone overhangs at Elgol and Gneiss outcrops on Raasay.

The wonderful seacliffs of Suidhe Biorach at Elgol



On Trotternish the major addition is the ice arena at Scamadal as well as more hard mixed routes on the huge Storr cliffs.

Ice Arena at Scamadal just north of the Storr

The book also includes a guide to bouldering across the whole island (including the Cuillin), Deep Water Soloing and ticklists for wild seastacks and every notable pinnacle.

I can’t wait to get out and explore the dozens of new venues and climb those lines I’ve always wondered about but not had neck to try.

Copies will be available from us via the website once the bulk of books arrives at the distributers Cordee in a few days time. With 2 brand new definitive SMC guidebooks to the island, Skye is sure to be high on the agenda for climbers in the season ahead.

Hobnobbing at the Storr. 15 January

15/01/12

5-30am start and walking up to the Storr with a scarlet dawn breaking over the mainland sounds like the perfect start to some winter climbing on Skye.

Sadly climbing conditions aren’t quite right at the minute but a day of crewing on the film Prometheus has been a great laugh in a stunning location for Matt, me & a large number of other Skyefolk today.

Wonderful dawn light at this time of year


Matt watching first of many loads arriving


Overview of the main shooting area


The film is a prequel to the blockbusting Alien and director Ridley Scott was up there calling all the shots. Matt had been chewing the fat with “Ridders” yesterday as shots were planned but the main man was very busy making the most of short daylight hours on this beautiful day.

Female lead (presumably as a “young” Sigorny Weaver?) is Noomi Rapace of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo fame. A bitter wind was ripping across the slopes removing any heat from the sun & she looked very glad when her scenes were finished & she was whisked away in a chopper.

Noomi taking directions from Ridley

and Neil Maclean Sconser doing the really hard work of delivering coffee to the crew.


Superb conditions on Alasdair. 5th January

05/01/12

I didn’t know what to expect after the past few days of extreme weather but big dumps of snow & big thaws followed by a temperature drop should produce some useful conditions; despite knowing the theory I was amazed at what we found. From Coire Lagan we climbed NW Ramp of Sgumain in 3 full pitches. It is definitely grade II (as opposed to I in the guidebook) with some laid-back but only thinly iced slabs concentrating the mind well.

View of the route from Coire Lagan

2nd belay

Maybe next time this icicle will grow big enough to climb

Above me the top pitch weaves between snow patches & ice smears before finishing below The Final Tower, an impressive Severe rock climb in summer.

Traversing onto Sgumain and taking in the views

 Looking to the South end over Loch Choire a’ Ghrunnda

Around Sgumain; Blabheinn in the background

Lunch in the cave; Dubhs behind


Above here the views got even better and we continued around Sgumain and onto Alasdair by the SW Flank (II). Above the chimney there were a few small rock steps before the long runnel to the summit. The snow in this was in superb nick with just enough give for the toes and front points.

Rich & Andy on the last few steps to the top of Skye

Descending from the summit.

The narrow crest down the Stone Shoot was also in good nick but didn’t disguise the big drops. Descending the Stone Shoot was a dream with heels digging in and crampons off pretty quickly before the obligatory bumslide to finish.

Sgurr Dearg & the In Pinn in evening light seen from the Great Stone Shoot

Bright moon & stunning sunset colours to finish; what more could a boy want? Off to the ceilidh to find out.

Bruach na Frithe in a Blizzard. 3 January

05/01/12

Rich Sheehan is back with his mates Tom & Andy again for more winter fun. Despite dawn forgetting to appear until after 8-30am (because the cloud was so thick & low) we togged up & the old mantra of it’s fine once you’re out there proved right again.

Despite silly quantities of snow virtually from the car we made good progress, explored a gorge in Fionn Choire then gained the NW Ridge of Bruach na Frithe.

The gorge at the base of Fionn Choire



There was some swimming whenever we turned the crest on the west flank but swinging the role of trail-breaking got us surprisingly rapidly to the summit.

Happy team on the NW Ridge of Bruach na Frithe

We descended Coir’ a’ Bhasteir needing care on the old snow necklace around Am Basteir’s towering north walls.

Dwarfed by the walls of Am Basteir

Cuillin Glossy Mag Article. Climb, January edition.

02/01/12

Climb has printed a 6-page illustrated article on winter climbing in the Cuillin written by Mike. It uses a selection of photos including a classic shot by the superb mountain artist and photographer Jamie Hageman

Jamie Hageman’s classic self-portrait is the frontspiece

The article gives a brief history of modern developements in the Cuillin as emphasis finally shifts away from the Winter Traverse. There are tips on how to choose a route, what gear to take and some ideas of great routes right through the grades.

Sneak preview

Cover of the January issue.

Timely return for a freeze; 2 January

02/01/12

Happy 2012 from a snowy Skye. Let the year ahead be healthy & prosperous and may all your climbing ambitions be realised. We have freezing level right back down to the sea once more today.

View over the remaining stocks this morning.

The wild & wet weather was poorly timed for climbers and walkers over the festive period but did allow some excellent social. Great craic yesterday at the Edinbane Inn which is probably the best venue for live music on the island just now- www.edinbaneinn.co.uk 

Seasons greetings from Skye 29th December

29/12/11

A quick hello to let everyone know we’ve survived the storms so far, touch wood. The excellent conditions got well stripped back but a good layer of fresh white stuff arrived overnight.

Sligachan view today.

The storms & freeze thaws are due to continue so hopefully some good stuff when work starts again next week.

Winter is arriving!

01/12/11

Matts Report

It is looking hopeful for winter climbing on Skye in the not too distant future. Here are a couple of photos of the Ridge I took from Sligachan today.

Amazing break in weather for Blabheinn; November 27th

27/11/11

A night of mad storms with smashed windows and huge garden items thrown around left my hopes about the weather clearing seeming hollow as dawn arrived. With torrential rain & gusts knocking us off our feet, we packed into the car and headed for Blaven; my most promising option in a norwesterly wind.

Brave grins as we set off.

Within minutes the sun came out and ony one tiny hail shower caught us all day.

Wet feet at the first river crossing.

There were still big gusts so I took an unusual option (for me) of following the hopefully sheltered, central gully between the 2 tops. I’ve always considered it a bit of a purgatorial scree treadmill but seemed worthwhile on the safety front.

Warming up as we head up Great Gully

You can make out 3 laid-back towers of rock just right of the scree slope in the photo above. I’d never explored them and was delighted to find the middle one gives a thoroughly entertaining line of good scrambling for us to play on.

Steep scrambling on sun-drenched rock!

Scrambling like this is the business; the normal thigh burning pain of flogging uphill is relieved by a 2-fold combination. Firstly a slower pace is enforced because you need to carefully choose the line & holds. Secondly the concentration on not falling off over-rides most other signals to the brain!

The final wee ridge of scrambling.

Lunch with a view

After a well deserved lunch break in the sun 5 minutes of loose scree warmed us all up well before the icy blast hit us at the top. The view was spectacular & I don’t seem to have been the only one very happy with our efforts!

A bevvy of Buckleys and a Burfday Jill on Blabheinn

The Black Cuillin seemed to have lucked with all the tops clear while not a single mainland peak could be seen.

Sun & snow with the South Top behind us.

The skies got darker as we descended; not just the fact that dusk was approaching but a perfectly timed return for the heavy rain once we were racing to the pub for a celebratory beer. Happy 21st Jill!

Winter’s back; Yeha! 25 November 2011

25/11/11

Beinn na Caillich above Broadford.

My book launch hangover was greatly eased by the sight of lots of fresh snow this morning right down below 1000ft. It’s been very heavy showers since lunch with driving sleet & hail at sea-level battering the windows.

Before you all pack your kit & come running up to try out your new guidebooks I should warn you about some warm pulses predicted between the cold snaps for the week ahead. These could work greatly to our favour if summit level reaches say 2 or 3 degrees but could equally strip all the glorious white stuff; we’ll have to see on a day by day basis.

BOOK LAUNCH

Many thanks toeveryone who braved the wild weather to dive up to Portree last night. 45 folk on a Thursday night in November was a very fine effort and it was great to meet up with some old friends and make some new ones too. Many thanks in particular to Aros and the staff there, Donald, Dave & Lance. You can see what else is on at the Aros centre at www.aros.co.uk

Book Launch Invitation. Portree, 24th November.

18/11/11
 
Apologies for the late notice. Anyone with an interest in the Cuillin is very welcome. I expect it will be just locally based folk but if you’re up here on holiday….

Invitation.

3, Luib

Isle of Skye.

November 2011

Hello.

 

Scottish Mountaineering Club Cuillin Guidebook

 

You may be aware that the new SMC Guidebook to the Cuillin has finally been published and is now widely available. As the author, I will be giving an illustrated talk at 7.30pm in the Aros Centre, Portree on Thursday 24th November.

 

The talk will cover a broad spectrum including summer and winter climbing, history, geology, flora & fauna, Munros and tourism. The show will include images of the Cuillin from the book and also from my own collection.

 

In writing the book I have learnt a huge amount about these fantastic mountains. I hope to pass on some of the passion and the enthusiasm that the project has given me.

 

As someone with an interest in the Cuillin you may know others who have not have received this invitation. Please feel free to extend the invitation to them.

 

Signed copies of the book will be available in the foyer and the bar will be open from 7pm. The talk will begin at 7.30pm and last for about an hour followed by a chance to ask questions.

 

Yours faithfully,

Mike Lates

 

RSVP to allow us to be properly prepared. Either the above address, by telephone- 01471 822 116 or by e-mail; mike@skyeguides.co.uk

 

 

 

About the book.

SKYE- THE CUILLIN


 


MIKE LATES (2011)

 

This book is written for climbers but will also be useful for any walkers and scramblers planning to visit the Skye Cuillin.

 

Full page colour photographs show the easiest approaches and descents to the Munros and other summits of these complex mountains. These are backed up with clear concise descriptions written by author and local mountain guide Mike Lates.

 

Introduction sections have specific Cuillin advice including weather, navigation and safety. The eight page history section details the first conquests right up to modern day achievements. Geology, local amenities and the environment are also covered.

 

RETAIL PRICE £25

Alps scenery.

05/11/11

There was a massive rockfall on the Dru this summer and Ann-Gibbs Jordan witnessed it whilst doing the Tour de Mont Blanc before she came over to the Cuillin. Here’s some pics she took; thanks Ann.

You can see the pale scar on the RHS of the Dru. Verte to the left.


Looking up the Leschaux Glacier to the Grand Jorasses.

Dent de Geant on the RHS; Grand Jorasse on the left.

I’ve also remembered that Ann was particularly sad to hear that here climbing hero Walter Bonatti had passed away while she was on the tour; she never met him but liked the coincidence that she was on one of Bonatti’s favourite mountains. RIP, Walter.

November Newsletter & Feedback

02/11/11

You can view our latest newsletter here

Many thanks for all the book orders that have come through already; they should be with you by Monday at the latest.

Some feedback- “Fantastic issue … especially with all the links to other photos of activities up there.” Pete B. USA

Hi Mike book looks great would luv signed copy.  You hauled me, ‘old man of Bolton’  along the Ridge about 3 years ago,  with 40 y.o. son Phil.  Highlight of my walking life!” Chris B.

I’ve been really enjoying the blog this year, checking in every couple of days. It’s making up for the fact I didn’t make it to Skye in 2011. I climbed with Gillian in 2010 along Pinnacle Ridge with my son Tom, then 15. A memorable day for both of us, and one that launched us into more technical rock climbing together (on local sandstone outcrops round here like Harrisons Rocks as well as indoor walls) … we’re planning to return, the whole family, in May 2012. I’d love to organise a winter adventure before then.” Rupert W.

Big Chill

31/10/11

Well I got that well wrong; I’m off for a Ridge Traverse Sunday/Monday instead! Cool but windless and clear: full moon coming too.

Is all this wet going to go hard very fast? Fingers x’d.The cold blast that has hit New York will be with us before the weekend. Saturday looks like the best day to play! Here’s my favourite Unysis forecast- Click

Some scenic dry tooling practice earlier this week; will it pay off?

Yosemite

10/10/11

Matts Report

Here are some photos of Yosemite valley and the climbing out there. Enjoy!

El Capitan in the sunshine (approx 3000 feet of rock from top to bottom)

And in the rain!

The Lost Arrow Spire

Belaying for aid climbing can be slightly tedious!

My friend Tony posing in front of Half Dome

Matt posing in front of Half Dome!

The first pitch of “Lurking Fear” an aid route on El Capitan

Lower and Middle Cathedral Rocks

Tony leading the second pitch of Lurking Fear

Looking up Yosemite Valley; the top of half dome visibile on the right and Mt Watkins is in the distance on the left side. 

Racing the haulbag

High up on “Royal Arches” A nice multi-pitch VS

Fighting hard with Generator Crack. This an off width climb-too large for fists but not large enough to fit inside. It is also a lot steeper than it looks.

Climbing a more straightforward crack!

Dry Tooling comp; Ice Factor 8th October

09/10/11

I was coaxed well out of my comfort zone into the intense and impressive world of indoor dry tooling competitions yesterday. Climbing indoors, using leashless ice axes and competetive climbing; any single one of these would surprise many who know me well and they would have enjoyed watching my flailing antics! Luckily I’m not proud, really enjoyed myself, learnt a lot and met some great new folk.

Gillian on the last of the 3 ice routes; that bulge at the top hurt a lot but was nothing compared to the overhanging routes for the dry-tooling routes.

Gillian was my mentor and got us onto the ice first; all went well with 3 first time successes and I was enjoying myself despite aching forearms. I hadn’t realised that I’d started on the easiest routes of the 15 and things unravelled rapidly after this and I only topped out on one more. Gillian’s arms lasted far longer and she showed both grit and skill to top out on 3 more coming in 5th place in the female category.

The finals gave a chance to admire some supreme athletes with a combination of incredible strength combined with amazing gymnastic ability. The dutch girl who won seemed to climb at least half of the route whilst upside-down performing figure of 4’s and 9’s. She and 2 of the male finalists tried desperately to get high enough on a hanging log to reach the final clip but all in vain. Boyfriend Denis showed us all how it was done with a highly ungymnastic manouvre of humping the log and pretty much mantle shelfing on the heads of his axes to huge and deserved applause.

I’ve got no photos I’m afraid (fingers didn’t have strength for the shutter) but the STS site should have a great display soon- http://www.scottishtoolingseries.co.uk/scottish-tooling-series-2011/

Your feet have to stay in the boxes as well as your tools

Always Sunny on Skye?

05/10/11

Matts Report

I enjoyed some dry weather and beautiful views before heading to Yosemite a month ago and returned to find more of the same! It took us all day to do Sgurr Mhic Chonnich and Alasdair mainly because the views were so photogenic.

Bla Bheinn peeking above the cloud

Bla Bheinn in full view

Looking towards An Stac and the In Pinn

Brockenspectre

Sgurr Alasdair

Final Traverse for 2011? 1/2 October.

05/10/11

Mike’s report.

After September storms October dawned peaceful and dry just on time for George Gill and friends Steve & Ted. The Aquaxplore early bird landed us safely below Gars-bheinn which we reached comfortably in 2 hours

The East Ridge of Gars-bheinn; a stunning way to start

We the had entertaiment in the form of Skye MRT doing a helicopter exercise whilst being filmed for Highland Rescue for a couple of hours around Coire a’ Ghrunnda.

Rescue 137 lowers George & Jonah into Bealach a’ Garbh-choire

From Mhicchoinnich onward peace and quiet and warm sunshine gave perfect conditions, possibly even a bit warm on the superb steep scrambling up An Stac Direct to the foot of the Pinn.

Cool shadows from An Stac Direct

Mist descended around us between Banachdaich and Ghreadaidh but then opened up just in time for sunset as we arrived at the bivvy spot on Ghreadaidh.

Prince eat your heart out- we’ve got Purple Mist

Rarely have I had such a perfect combination of warmth, windless and stunning lightshow for such a long period. Admittedly whisky enhanced, the colours of the sunset and frequency of shooting stars made it an evening to remember.

Sunset over Loch Eynort

An inconsiderate shower at dawn enforced a lie-in but we were on the hoof again by 9am. Across the mainland more and more peaks appeared out above the clouds while the Western Isles were bathed in sunshine.

Mist shrouds An Caisteal while mainland peaks appear behind the Northern Cuillin

Dry rock ensured fast progress but needed us all to dig deep.

Ted romping up 2nd Top of Mhadaidh

Balancing along the roof-top of An Caisteal

4th team member and driver Phil timed it perfectly to meet us at Bealach na Lice. With the hotel in sight and only 2 peaks to go it was a shock to realise it would still be 5 hours before we’d be sharing a beer with him.

Tree surgeon Steve aiding up through The Mouth on Am Basteir

After the Tooth and Am Basteir we were relieved to dump our sacks before the final victorious rise to Gillean.

George celebrates while Ted soaks up the sun.

Stormy still but warming up; 28 September.

28/09/11

While the rest of the UK has an Indian summer the north-west of Scotland continues to be blasted by strong winds.

I was out with John Seal on Sunday when we bumped into past clients David Gray and Nick. It was our pleasure to help David link Dubh Mor with Alasdair to complete his entire collection of Munros.

Beautiful colours and light on Blaven on Monday morning.

On Monday I was on Clach Glas with Ann Gibbs Jordan who was making a return trip from Australia after last years’ fun on Pinnacle Ridge. We were fair battered by winds whenever we were on the Glen Sligachan side and happy to be roped together.

Rainbow over Garbh-bheinn with Marsco behind.

Sunny lunch on top.

We dodged the traditional Blaven climbing because the wind was so wild in the first narrow nick. Instead we dropped below the Great Prow and up Scupper Gully to gain the Normal Route to the summit of Blabheinn.

Top of the mighty Great Prow

On the same day Gillian managed to get Peter Oglesby’s team up the Pinn reporting no problem with the wind whatsoever; just goes to show how varied conditions can be.

Today Annn and I used Sgurr an Fheadain to dodge the wind; low and central in the corrie it remains sheltered despite ripping winds across the higher peaks.

Guides at play; Neist Point.

21/09/11

Francis, Gillian, Rich & I took the rare combination of fine weather & no work to climb together on Sunday. Not many pics I’m afraid but my aching body tells me I had a great workout. Francis & I did Security Risk, Wish You Were Here and Venture Capital. Gillian & Rich climbed Midas Touch, Gritstone Reminscence and Shocks ‘n’ Stares. Francis & Rich then both cleanly top-roped the bold and balancy All the Small Things, E5 6b, (http://www.ukclimbing.com/logbook/c.php?i=137044)

It criss-crosses the wall left of Venture Capital above the huge flake and was first led by Ali Fulton last year. Comparing the guys at the crux is an interesting study in body position.

Francis & Rich at the crux moves; staying in balance to reach the thin crack out to their right is very delicate

Francis low on the 3 star route Venture Capital, HVS 5b

Almost forgot to mention the whale that Rich spotted and the golden eagles being mobbed by buzzards.

Ridge Traverse success again; 15/16 September

17/09/11

Congratulations to Graham, Jonathan & Dave on successful Ridge Traverse on Thursday and Friday will Gillian as their guide. Less than 2 weeks after her previous success Gill commented on there being significantly less light at either end of the day.

They had 2 very different days weather-wise. Cloud-free laidback climbing on a very long hot first day (12.5hrs), was followed by an early start and a heavy shower arriving before lunch on day 2 (11hrs).

Final packing before the boat trip.

Taking on final water for the long hot haul ahead

Graham gives a wave from half-way up the Pinn

Early start to make the most of dry rock

Dave makes the off-balance move down into Tairneilear

Victorious team on Gillean in the mist

Mid September- a topsy turvy period.

15/09/11

Fitting in work between the tail end of hurricaines has been challenging but the quality of the Cuillin has been proved by some excellent adventurous spirit.

Ben on Pinnacle Ridge,

Robyn & Ben crossing where the Gendarme used to sit on the West Ridge of Gillean

Regulars Dave & Jo Windle came across last weekend despite Katia’s lashing tail. Clach Glas was very wet on Friday but superb fun and made the beers extra well earned!

On Saturday even Neist Point, driest place on Skye let me down but an optimistic drive across to Flodigarry came up trumps. We climbed the superb Newspaper Taxis (Severe) before going for Buoy Racer. This excellent 50m VS was the scene of a near-miss for me in 2003 so exorcising the demons added an extra dimension. The heavy showers finally decided to arrive when I was well commited and then huge waves decided to cover the boys down below.

Dave “the Wave” starts up Buoy Racer VS

Jo tops out as the sun comes out; just too late!

Sunday to Tuesday were total deluges but Gillian still managed to get Ian Rear safely onto Ghreadaidh & Mhadaidh. Wednesday dawned bettter than expected and Gillian & Ian snatched an early ascent of the Pinn before the rain caught them on Mhiccoinnich. The wind direction was more worrying around An Dorus with those descending giving tales of 80mph gusts. I took an unusual step of approaching Ghreadaidh by the deep slot of Eag Dubh as Sara & Nome’s first Cuillin scramble. Again great spirit was shown and was rewarded by a complete lull once we broke the crest. Next the clouds thinned and the sun even showed willing as we made it to the summit, admittedly much to my surprise.


Topping out of Eag Dubh (Moderate)

And finally today was the reward for everyone’s patience with a Cuillin day to remember. An early start got us up to the Pinn first and perfect conditions allowed everyone to really enjoy the experience far more than anyone expected. Gillian is out attempting a Traverse with Graham Batram’s group. They’ve safely reached the overnight bivvy and hopefully they’re enjoying the moon and shooting stars but I think they may be flat out after a huge day.

Helen, Nome, Simon, John & Mark top out on the Pinn; 15th September

An abseil to remember with the Inner Hebrides behind

and all before the hourdes arrived!

A Nome at home!

Autumn colours and busy business; Early September

05/09/11

September is one of my favourite months; a combination of rich colours, rapid changes and anticipation of the first snows.

Magnificent rowan at Torrin today

Ignoring consistently awful forecasts we’ve all been busy and stayed largely dry. Gavin and Nigel finally conquered Sgurr a Ghreadaidh with me on Thursday; 3rd time lucky!

Friday saw the tail end of hurricaine Irene blow through but didn’t stop Tim, Sarah & me traversing Clach Glas to Blaven and with only 30 seconds of rain all day. On Saturday we started up Sgurr an Fheadain in the damp but, by the time we topped out, the crest was dry and views to the east magnificent. An Caisteal is a superb section of the Ridge with narrow edges and big jumps before an exposed descent to Tairneilear.

Sarah going for it along the top edge


Tim takes flight

Completing Chris’s main Ridge Munros on Am Basteir on Sunday

Claire looking forward to traversing Clach Glas in the sun today

high on the climb up……


and below the Imposter

Congratulations to Carole on a successful Ridge traverse with Gillian as her guide over the past 2 days. Hopefully some pics to come.

“What a brilliant day, Francis was excellent and very patient. I’m extremely stiff & in need of a zimmer frame but who cares after a fantastic trip” was the text I received from David after his big day out from An Dorus to Bruach na Frithe yesterday.

And finally best of luck to Matt over the next 3 weeks on his trip to Yosemite for some big wall aiding. He has been working hard for the past few weeks but also beasting himself in the gym. Most importantly he’s been practising erecting his portaledge and got it down to under 10 minutes whilst suspended in space; it took him nearly an hour on the ground first time!