Skye Guides and the Cuillin Ridge Traverse
The Cuillin Ridge Traverse is a major alpine climb and a huge undertaking that is not for everyone. It should not be your first ambition in the Cuillin unless you are a highly competent mountaineer. The only exception to this is if you are incredibly fit and booking on a 1:1 basis.
Our high success rate (over 75 % of attempts started) is only due to stringent vetting and following some rigid principles.
For a broad overview please read the Traverse information page and study the Free Download Tips for Success on the Cuillin Ridge . If this sounds like the challenge for you please Contact us by phone or e-mail to discuss.
RIDGE TRAVERSE COURSE PRICES 2020
Ratios 3-day course**
4-day course Total
5-day course Total
Refund for no Traverse attempt*
1:1 £900 £1100 £1350 £20 per day
1:2 £1000 £1200 £1450 £25 per day
1:3 RATIO IS NOT OFTEN RECOMMENDED. COMPROMISES ON STYLE ARE INEVITABLE £1200 £1320 £1600 £30 per day
1:4 RATIO IS NEITHER SAFE NOR PRACTICAL. SERIOUS ASPIRANTS SHOULD BOOK 2 GUIDES TO HAVE ANY CHANCE OF SUCCESS N/A N/A N/A
* Refunds are for clients unfortunate enough to have no suitable weather window to justify an attempt in their 4 or 5-day course.
** 3-day courses are only available to clients with previous Cuillin experience. No refund is given if an attempt isn't feasible.
Why do we suggest a 4 or 5-day Traverse Course?
The longer your stay the greater your chances of a suitable weather window. The challenge is 3 times as big as most major alpine classic ridges, in terms of vertical ascent. It requires all the same mountaineering skills and dry rock to move at a suitable speed. A successful Traverse attempt is always the focus of the week. The rest of the course is never wasted with time spent on a suitable mix of training climbs, scrambling and bivouac retrieval. Your personal guide must give careful consideration to the logistics; forecast, nutrition, equipment, & travel. Specifically the day following a successful Traverse is always low key.
Suitability & Vetting
A very high level of fitness is paramount along with good core strength and balance. Previous experience of Cuillin peaks is often best as clients will know the scale of the undertaking and is the best way to know if this challenge is for you. We are happy to advise guests who have experience of rocky ridges in the Alps, Rockies etc. The Traverse is fundamentally dangerous and our number one priority is to keep all members of the party safe. For this reason we vet all potential clients who enquire.
On normal daily outings our clients are all given a rating, between 1 and 10, on suitability for a Traverse. This is for your own interest but mainly to give our guides an idea of your ability for future ambitions/bookings (we have a high number of regular and repeat guests).
New clients aspiring to a Traverse should be able to demonstrate a very high level of fitness and relevant mountaineering experience. Alpine experience of ascents of rocky routes such as the Hornli Ridge (Matterhorn) or Mittelligi Ridge (Eiger), are suitable whereas a snowy ascent of Mont Blanc is unlikely to have prepared you. Wide experience of trekking, overnight camping, general hill walking, rock climbing and alpine snow peaks are not often considered as suitable preparation.
How we charge for Traverses.
A Cuillin Ridge Traverse is a premium product and prices reflect this. However, the hourly rate for this product remains considerably lower than on all of our other courses. Justification for this anomaly is that, when conditions are suitable, our guides love the challenge of guiding the best alpine climb in Britain. If conditions aren’t suitable to make an attempt throughout your course less demanding outings will be made each day and compensation will be given in the form of a refund.
This is the ultimate British mountaineering expedition and prices reflect the amount of effort from both client and guide to succeed. In addition to the climbing difficulties, logistics such as transport, food, water and bivvy equipment all need to be precisely organised. On average 32-36 hours are spent on the hill, equivalent to 4 individual day outings! 16-24 hours (over two days) of this is climbing, scrambling & walking. Compare this with an average of 10 hours spent climbing the Matterhorn, add an uncomfortable night out, then repeat your Matterhorn for good measure.
We use our vast experience to advise on the best way to make the expedition successful but in some cases an attempt is not justifiable. Shorter but still classic outings are normally suitable so the days are all used. Dealing with this is complex but our policy is the fairest that we have come up with.
Chances of success are highest on a 1:1 basis. 1:2 is a safe and practical ratio if both clients are of equal fitness. For larger groups bespoke arrangements can be made. All party members should be of compatible fitness and ability. Harsh decisions often have to be made if this criteria is ignored.
Sample four-day itinerary for ideal weather.
Day 1: Packing, practice and assessment day. Most of your preparation will have been done by now but this will be ‘fine tuning’ with your guide to advise and oversee.
Day 2: Travel to Elgol and approach by 8am boat. Reach Gars-bheinn 11am. Reach TD Gap by 1pm, In Pinn by 4pm, An Doras and bivvy 6pm (9-12hrs, 2600m ascent)
Day 3: Depart bivvy 6am, Bruach na Frithe at 10am, Gillean at 12pm, Sligachan at 3pm (9hrs, 1400m ascent)
Day 4: Return to Elgol to retrieve vehicles. Possible sea cliff climbing.
The 3-day booking is the minimum time commitment we request clients to make. It is only available to Skye Guides clients that have been vetted as suitably fit and experienced.
Single Day Attempts
Booking this is not available. To maximise lightweight scrambling along the whole Ridge our ideal plan involves a late evening approach (3-5hrs), bivvy at the South end (full recovery) then a full Traverse the next day having left the bivvy kit. You must still book a 3-day course with any extra any time spent retrieving kit or climbing.