Share your personal walking route experiences in Scotland, and comment on other peoples' reports.
Warning Please note that hillwalking when there is snow lying requires an ice-axe, crampons and the knowledge, experience and skill to use them correctly. Summer routes may not be viable or appropriate in winter. See winter information on our skills and safety pages for more information.

the cullin ridge traverse

the cullin ridge traverse

Postby mgmt! » Tue Jun 07, 2011 12:19 am

Munros included on this walk: Am Basteir, Bruach na Frìthe, Inaccessible Pinnacle, Sgùrr a' Ghreadaidh, Sgùrr a' Mhadaidh, Sgùrr Alasdair, Sgùrr Dubh Mòr, Sgùrr Mhic Chòinnich, Sgùrr na Banachdich, Sgùrr nan Eag, Sgùrr nan Gillean

Date walked: 04/06/2011

Time taken: 20 hours

Distance: 12 km

Ascent: 4000m

6 people think this report is great.
Register or Login
free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).

its 2 30 am when the alarm goes off in my tent at the glen brittle campsite, i get up, get dressed, boots on. what am i doing ? 2 45 and pre packed rucksacs are donned and we set off. im walking with florian my mate from the lomond mountaineering club, and were about to attempt the cullin ridge traverse. this is no ordinary ridge, 22 peaks, 11 munros, 12 km, one of the finest alpine style rock climbing routes in europe, at least 3 pitches of technical rock climbing to grade severe and several abseils thrown in. ive dreamed of trying it, been reading up on it, training for it and here i go im actually going to attempt it.
its a fine night as we head up the path toward coir a ghrunnda, its light enough to see, no headtoarches needed. we leave the path just before it starts to head up to ghrunnda and contour round sgurr nan eag into coire nan laough before ascending up towards gars bheinn. my heads racing, weather forcast is mixed, no wind, low cloud to 700 metres, showers falling as snow to 700 metres but getting progressively better with cloud lifting pm to 950. will we get the weather ? will i be fit enough ? will i bottle the climbs, do i have enough food ?, water ? and will i be mentally strong enough ?. according to one source only 10% of attempts end in success ! minds racing then im at the summit of gars bheinn, its 5 15am, quick bite to eat and its on, were ready to go.......
cloud sets in over sgurr nan eag as we start off from gars bhein

the cloud came in just as we started off, west over sgurra choire bhig to a bealach and up to the first munro sgurr nan eag. we drop to the bealach garbh choie and already route finding is tricky, we are using the rockfax.com guide and it helps but its tricky in the cloud. we get to the summit of sgurr dubh mor and west back toward the main ridge passing the three pinnicles and over sgurr nada bhein. in no time were at the first of the difficulties the thearlaich dubh gap.
the td gap is just that a gap in the ridge with a 30 metre abseil and the same in a technical climb (severe) out of the bottom. florian sets up the abseil from from a fixed sling at the top of the drop and in no time hes at he bottom. my turn and i join him in the gap. florian then leads up out of the gap, sets up a belay and becons me up. he made it look easy and i eventually manage to get up, my fingers were frozen as we headed up to the next munro sgurr alasdair.
florian leads the climb out of the gap

after the summit of alastair its back eastward to rejoin the ridge at sgurr thearlaich, we head northward over bealach mhic choinnich, we then get to the next technical climb kings chimney (difficult), florian leads the climb and i follow and we then scramble up to the next munro sgurr mhic choinnich. the cloud now starts to lift as we round the ridge toward sgurr dearg and the innaccessible pinnacle. the views are spectacular all round and next up is the inn pinn.
sgurr alastair

on approaching the inn pinn florian suggests we scramble up the crest of the ridge which the guide say is moderate, rather than taking the path up the base on the west side. im really enjoying it now and we arrive at the base of inn pinn. there are 4 climbing the pinn and 2 waiting at the base. lets just solo it michael says florian, it will save waiting on the others and its no more difficult than the ridge weve just come up. ok lets do it i say. the 2 guys waiting gave us the nod and we head up the inn pinn, solo, no rope ! we pass the guys as we go, getting the ok from their guide and abseil off the fixed chain to the bottom. whaaalll, majic stuff, we sit on the crest and take a break in the sun eating and drinking some water, im in my glory 5 down 6 to go.
soloing the inn pinn !!!!

we set off again and soon arrive at the next munro sgurr na banachdich
the view back from sgurr na banachdich

its past the 3 teeth and as we head up toward sgurr a ghreadaidh we meet a fellow lomond member david griffiths coming the other way, david gives us a litre of water his best encouragement and offers us a lift from sligachan to glen brittle, all we have to do is finnish the ridge ! so we head for sgurr a greadaidh knowing we have a lift at the end and some much needed extra water. were in good spirits as we reach the summit.
view to sgurr a ghreadaidh

we go past the wort and downclimb into an dorus, its a short scramble to the next munro sgurr a mhadaidh. the next section toward bruach na frithe was long and tough lots of scrambling, 4 abseils and tricky route finding even in clear conditions. i was dying to get to bruach na frithe, in my mind that would be me getting toward the final lap so to speak, a litttle boost, but it was a slog and it was with tired legs we arrivved at the summit. someone had tied some bunting from the trig point to the cairn, the sort you see on the himalaya, i think there is little prayer writing on them and it perked me up no end getting to that summit.
view toward bruach na frithe
ridge towards bruach na frithe
florian on the summit of bruach na frithe

well if i thought it was all downhill from her i was wrong, the guidebook says, the final push to the finish (and the sting in the tail), the climb of am bhasteir marks the end of the technical difficulties. how right it was we got to the tooth and what an imposing site. i thought it impassable, we couldnt see the route up, we headed to the south east of it to were it says a moderate climb would take us up, but we couldnt see it. we decided to take the detour around the west side of the tooth descending the scree and re ascending to the bealach a bhasteir. we left our packs at the bealach and headed up to the summit of bhasteir.
the summit of am bhasteir

we got our rucksacs and made for the finish, on the ridge towards gillean the cloud starts to come in and as i look back to am bhasteir the cloud drifts over the summit, its beautiful, i turn round and head for the final munro sgurr nan gillean a great scramble up a chimney then takes you through the needle, and were there the summit, the finnish !!! we done it, its 8 30 pm its took us 15 hours from gars bhein, but its was worth every minute.
cloud over am bhasteir
success, me and florian on the summit of sgurr nan gillean

after the joy of finishing we still had to descend. we headed of the south east ridge, tricky downclimbing and navigating. it was a long 2 and a half hour descent legs were heavy feet on fire and the sligachan hotel wasnt getting nearer fast enough, as we aproached the bridge before the hotel our angel from the north ( well northern ireland) david griffiths was waiting for us, fresh water and some crisps in hand, he loaded our packs into his car and drove us the 100 metres to the pub at sligachan were he got us a beer and toasted our success before driving us back to the campsite in glen brittle. what a star he was thanks david.
we got to the site and i just crawled into my sleeping bag, knackered but absolutely elated, i had done it, all that reading, planning, waiting, it all came together that day and luck was on our side i would recomend it to anyone, just give it the respect it deserves!! good luck
so good i had to take anothr picture

our_route.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts

Posts: 540
Joined: Oct 18, 2010

Re: the cullin ridge traverse

Postby Bod » Tue Jun 07, 2011 12:47 am

Very well done to you both! That was us, the 4 on the Pinn when you arrived, it sure was a fantastic morning. We left the campsite at 6.30, so you had covered ground really well having just 4hrs on us, very well done.....
User avatar
Posts: 1543
Munros:282   Corbetts:65
Grahams:33   Donalds:21
Sub 2000:43   Hewitts:9
Wainwrights:7   Islands:25
Joined: Jul 30, 2010
Location: Cowdenbeath

Re: the cullin ridge traverse

Postby Chirs » Tue Jun 07, 2011 2:23 am

Many congratulations Mgmt and Florian! 8)

A magnificent achievement, and something I hope to manage myself one day :D.

I was the guy you met on Bidein Druim nan Ramh.
Was wondering how you got on. Pleased to hear you finished the ridge, and made it to the Slig before last orders!
Posts: 5
Joined: Jun 7, 2011

Re: the cullin ridge traverse

Postby Jock McJock » Tue Jun 07, 2011 4:17 am

Wow!! Well done to both of you. That was a great read and the pics are great too. What a day! Like you said, it all came together. Would love to do something like that someday. Well done again guys! :D
Jock McJock
Mountain Walker
Posts: 450
Munros:173   Corbetts:5
Sub 2000:1   
Joined: Feb 5, 2010
Location: Dumbarton

Re: the cullin ridge traverse

Postby malky_c » Tue Jun 07, 2011 5:50 am

Impressive stuff, and good weather for it too 8)

Seems like you didn't mess around at all - all the direct routes taken :shock:

If I ever get around to doing this in a oner, I'll be skipping the TD gap, Kings Chimney, Naismith route on Am Bastier etc and using the more wussy alternatives!

great report :D
User avatar
Posts: 6175
Munros:282   Corbetts:222
Grahams:219   Donalds:79
Sub 2000:295   Hewitts:271
Wainwrights:130   Islands:39
Joined: Nov 22, 2009
Location: Glasgow/Inverness

Re: the cullin ridge traverse

Postby Gable Gable End » Tue Jun 07, 2011 6:23 am

FANTASTIC stuff! Great report and pics!
User avatar
Gable Gable End
Posts: 568
Munros:64   Corbetts:6
Sub 2000:7   
Joined: Apr 28, 2009
Location: Houston, TX

Re: the cullin ridge traverse

Postby mountain thyme » Tue Jun 07, 2011 7:24 am

Well done to both of you. What an achievement. Good report and pics...
User avatar
mountain thyme
Posts: 984
Munros:40   Corbetts:222
Grahams:12   Donalds:11
Sub 2000:3   Hewitts:1
Wainwrights:1   Islands:17
Joined: Jul 22, 2010
Location: Glasgow

Re: the cullin ridge traverse

Postby Paul Webster » Tue Jun 07, 2011 7:37 am

Congratulations to both of you. The Cuillin Ridge traverse is a great acheivement (I think - it's way beyond me!!)
User avatar
Paul Webster
Site Admin
Mountain Walker
Posts: 5508
Munros:282   Corbetts:222
Grahams:71   Donalds:45
Sub 2000:120   Hewitts:133
Wainwrights:134   Islands:92
Joined: Jan 6, 2007
Location: Highland
Walk wish-list

Re: the cullin ridge traverse

Postby foggieclimber » Tue Jun 07, 2011 7:45 am


Great to see a report for a traverse on Walk Highlands incuding TD gap, King's Chimney and In Pin. Shame about Naismith's Route but well done carrying on to traverse round to tackle Am Bastier from the North.

I have lots of walks/climbs on my wishlist and this is right at the top - more than a bit envious.

This is a HUGE undertaking of physical and mental stamina so again a big WELL DONE.
Posts: 1041
Joined: Aug 9, 2009

Re: the cullin ridge traverse

Postby HighlandSC » Tue Jun 07, 2011 7:52 am


I was sitting on the summit of Bla Bheinn that day looking at the ridge wondering about the fun people would be having over there- so good to see you guys nailing the ultimate route. Maybe one day for me....but nowhere near it yet! Thanks for the report :)
User avatar
Posts: 2184
Munros:33   Corbetts:4
Sub 2000:14   
Joined: Jul 12, 2009
Location: USA (formerly Inverness)

Re: the cullin ridge traverse

Postby Mainser » Tue Jun 07, 2011 10:48 am

What a fantastic report.

My mate and I are heading to Skye next year. We are hiring a guide and planning to do the Munros over 5 days, with the option if in the unlikely event we get the weather, we can attempt the whole traverse. This report has spurred me on.

Well done guys
Munro compleatist
Posts: 12
Joined: Oct 28, 2010

Re: the cullin ridge traverse

Postby rocket-ron » Tue Jun 07, 2011 12:51 pm

awesome guys i could only dream about doing this
Posts: 971
Munros:175   Corbetts:68
Sub 2000:12   
Joined: Jul 19, 2010
Location: Inverness

Re: the cullin ridge traverse

Postby weebookil » Tue Jun 07, 2011 6:56 pm

foggieclimber wrote:WELL DONE.

Great to see a report for a traverse on Walk Highlands incuding TD gap, King's Chimney and In Pin. This is a HUGE undertaking of physical and mental stamina so again a big WELL DONE.

Totally agree.Well done to both of you. What an achievement. Dont know how you both managed it physically and mentally!?
Posts: 29
Munros:245   Corbetts:1
Joined: May 24, 2011

Re: the cullin ridge traverse

Postby LeithySuburbs » Tue Jun 07, 2011 7:11 pm

amazing effort both of you :clap: . Don't think I'll ever do this in one as not a fan of abseiling :( .
User avatar
Posts: 1960
Munros:259   Corbetts:56
Grahams:29   Donalds:33
Sub 2000:41   Hewitts:14
Wainwrights:23   Islands:13
Joined: Feb 19, 2009
Location: Inverness

Re: the cullin ridge traverse

Postby gaffr » Tue Jun 07, 2011 8:35 pm

This is still a fantastic day out in the scottish mountains....I am thinking backwards to 1968 and 1972 when I had these memorable days. My own daughter was heading Cuillin way for a go last Saturday but the attractions of a race over the Loch Lochy Munros caused a change of plans. She thinks that this is as good an alpine preparation as the 'big traverse', I feel otherwise, but then I don't even jog! :lol: She reckons that she will be more ready for it August. :)
Thanks for presenting the images.
User avatar
Munro compleatist
Posts: 2116
Munros:281   Corbetts:203
Grahams:33   Donalds:14
Sub 2000:11   Hewitts:25
Wainwrights:11   Islands:17
Joined: Oct 25, 2009
Location: Highland.

6 people think this report is great.
Register or Login
free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).


Walkhighlands community forum is advert free

Your generosity keeps this site running.
Can you help support Walkhighlands and the online community by donating by direct debit?

Return to Walk reports - Scotland

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: BayCityStroller, Eszter, Kellybrodie, MrCH4RL3Y, Ollie and me and 70 guests