Mike Lates is the owner and director of Skye Guides. He started guiding on Skye in the 1995 and developed a reputation for providing Cuillin outings of the highest quality by sticking to private guiding and treating clients as his climbing partner for the day. This is the Skye Guides philosophy! He is as enthusiastic now as he ever was and passes this on to his guides and clients alike.
He is author of “Skye, The Cuillin” the SMC’s definitive guidebook to these world class mountains. Work started in 2003 and was finally published in 2011. With over 100 colour photographs showing approach routes and climbs it covers all aspects of the Cuillin climbing. ‘It was a privilege to get such an insight and deeper love of these mountains whilst researching the book.’
Teaching climbing skills is Mike’s forte. From tips on how to scramble safely to techniques on steep ice there is always something for customers to learn. “Teaching the skills not only makes my job more rewarding but also makes everyone far safer.”
Abroad Mike favours the High Tatra in Slovakia. No helicopters, no bolts and resembling an oversized Cuillin it is home from home. He has made ascents of many Alps including the Matterhorn and Eiger.
As an IRATA qualified rope access technician he worked on oilrigs, shopping centres, railways and even the Skye Bridge. With customers these skills are used for rigging huge abseils or Tyrolean traverses across the sea as “alternative wet weather activities”.
Mike knows his natural history pretty well. He even has a good stab at explaining the complex geology of this dramatic island, but always welcomes corrections.
When he first moved to Skye (1993) Mike was heavily involved with production of the best-selling book “The Cuillin”. It is a truly inspiring blend of stunning photography, culture, history and mountaineering philosophy: “Living with Gordon Stainforth through the creation of such a masterpiece was a unique privilege of which I become more aware with each Cuillin climb.”
Article in the BMC “How to Scramble” series on TRAVERSING THE CUILLIN RIDGE
Rock: Lubyanka on Cyrn Las, Snowdonia. King Kong, Ben Nevis
Ice: Riders on the Storm, Ben Nevis
Alps: Weissmiess N. Ridge-like doing the In. Pinn. continuously for 4 hours! Matterhorn ahead of the season with 3/4 hour alone on the summit.
Cuillin: The Greater Traverse in 11hrs. 1993. Psych!
Winter Traverse 2001. Three days of pure heaven.
F.A. of The Naked Saltire 1999. The straightest line in the Cuillin.
Abraham’s Route (winter variation) 2006. Northern lights to finish too!
John Mackenzie: Born Sconser 1852. Guided for 50 years. On first ascents of more than half of the Cuillin peaks. Taught & inspired Norman Collie.
Don Whillans: Born Salford 1930ish. Superb climber who told it how it was and couldn’t stand climbing bullshit. Proudly never screwed up on the hill. Read ‘Portrait of a Mountaineer’ for the real man. Perrin’s “The Villain” is an atrocious hatchet job.
Book: Killing Dragons by Fergus Fleming
Food: A rare sirloin fresh off the BBQ or Taramasalata on toast for breakfast.
Thanks so much for helping to make our adventure in The Black Cullin so magical, your presence brings a level of safety and trust that allows for a truly fun and free sense of adventure in a wonderfully challenging natural environment. You have a wonderful ability to identify a persons skill level and where one goes from their stretch zone to their panic zone. I have never felt so exhilarated by a day in the hills as I did after the day on Sgurr Mhadaidh.
I will always be grateful for experiencing the magic of the Black Cullin in the company of your truly generous and adventurous spirt Mike, looking forward to the next adventure in Skye already.
Go easy and feel free, Paul. February 2022.
I have just finished the The Cullin book you gave us and the last page sums it up beautifully-
“Stronger for it, we continue to wend our way through life , space walking on the edge of our dreams, with laughter in our hearts and as free as the winds of heaven”