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Reminiscing of the Cuillin Ridge

Reminiscing of the Cuillin Ridge


Postby madasa mongoose » Mon May 21, 2012 10:05 am

Munros included on this walk: Am Basteir, Bruach na Frithe, Inaccessible Pinnacle, Sgurr a'Ghreadaidh, Sgurr a'Mhadaidh, Sgurr Alasdair, Sgurr Dubh Mor, Sgurr Mhic Choinnich, Sgurr na Banachdich, Sgurr nan Eag, Sgurr nan Gillean

Date walked: 19/05/2003

Time taken: 18 hours

Distance: 12 km

Ascent: 4000m

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All these tales of Skye adventures reminded me of the wonderful time I spent there in 2003. I raked through my old photos and found some of the ridge traverse I completed with my friend Louise which I thought may be of interest to those contemplating this route. Just a few, as they’re scanned so nowhere near as fabulous as lots of the other photos posted recently.

Myself and Louise had previously arranged a trip to Skye to climb the In Pinn with a guide as neither of us had sufficient rock climbing skills to feel confident in leading this route, or indeed free climbing :shock: ! We duly booked with Mike Lates from Skye Guides and had a fabulous, successful day.

Skye Ridge 010.jpg
climbing the In Pinn


Skye Ridge 011.jpg
still climbing


Skye Ridge 015.jpg
abbing off


I’d previously climbed Blaven which just left the remaining Munros on the main ridge. Appetite thoroughly whetted on the In Pinn, we arranged to return to do the ridge with Mike. Although it is feasible to do the ridge in one day (or a few hours apparently if you’re superhuman – gauntlet thrown Monty!) we decided we’d aim to bivvy roughly half way (at An Dorus). This does mean carrying heavier packs so I guess it’s a toss up between going fast and light or taking things more slowly with the extra weight.

On Mike’s advice, we started the ridge with a boat trip into Gars Bheinn from Elgol. Aesthetically this is a great way to approach the ridge.

Skye Ridge 016.jpg
heading for boat from Elgol


On day 1, the weather was dry though clouds rolled in and out to occasionally obscure the tops. I should say at this point that, although I have some rock climbing experience and did the ridge on the back of 4 weeks climbing in Nepal, my friend Louise is one of these fortunate folk who remain insanely fit with apparently very little effort :mrgreen: She’s also blessed with a good head for heights and an ‘I’ll give anything a go’ attitude. So, despite limited hill walking experience and no knowledge of rock climbing, she romped up pretty much everything Mike threw at us :roll:

Skye Ridge 018.jpg
Louise heading up Gars Bheinn


Skye Ridge 020.jpg
starting the ridge proper


Most of the tricky bits of the ridge were climbed Alpine style moving together on a rope and the few rock climbs were pitched. I personally found the climb out of the TD gap a real b**ger of a route with a heavy sack; steep and polished with apparently non-existent holds - or at least they were doing a good job of hiding from me! :problem: :-?

Skye Ridge 022.jpg
Mike leading up the TD gap


Skye Ridge 023.jpg
Louise pondering the initial moves


But I loved Naismiths route on Am Bastier. An exposed start but a beautiful, direct line. The glorious sunshine on day 2 helped of course :D

Skye Ridge 034.jpg
edging across to start of Naismith’s route on Bastier tooth


Skye Ridge 036.jpg
climbing Naismith’s route


An the dramatic finish up Sgurr nan Gillean is a truly fitting climax :D

Skye Ridge 043.jpg
Hurrah! Summit of Sgurr nan Gillean!


To anyone thinking about doing the ridge, I’d say go for it, particularly if you’ve enjoyed the Aonach Eagach ridge and the pinnacles on An Teallach. It is achievable so long as you are fit (naturally or with effort!), have a head for heights and, if you don’t have rope skills, are willing to listen to a more experienced friend/guide who does. The benefit of the latter is all the route finding is sorted – reduces the mental strain! You also need to be prepared to bail out should the weather or conditions dictate. There’s lots of useful info on the Skye Guides website, including a downloadable ‘tips for success’ guide.

The Cuillin Ridge is physically and mentally demanding, and your fingers will feel like sandpaper for days from the rough gabbro rock but it’s a truly joyous route and rightly a classic. It’s on my list to do again someday though I may opt to take the ‘tourist route’ to bypass Mr. TD :lol:

Skye Ridge 003.jpg
on Sgurr Dubh Mor


Skye Ridge 024.jpg
Collie's ledge to In Pinn


Skye Ridge 019.jpg
happy bunny :)
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madasa mongoose
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Re: Reminiscing of the Cuillin Ridge

Postby monarchming » Mon May 21, 2012 10:19 am

Outstanding reports and pics mongoose!What a classic trip! I have done 5 Munros on Skye without a guide but I do agree to take an experienced friend or a guide.Well done! :thumbup:
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Re: Reminiscing of the Cuillin Ridge

Postby madasa mongoose » Mon May 21, 2012 11:04 am

Thanks Monarchming. Wasn't sure the photos were worth posting but thought others might be interested in the 'achievability' factor by a non-climber, weather and all other gods permitting :D
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Re: Reminiscing of the Cuillin Ridge

Postby davetherave » Mon May 21, 2012 11:59 am

Woohoo what a trip. I'm very glad you did post your pics.
This is exactly what I would love to do.
One day maybe. Yeah one day soon before its to late.

Thanks.
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Re: Reminiscing of the Cuillin Ridge

Postby BoyVertiginous » Mon May 21, 2012 12:05 pm

davetherave wrote:Woohoo what a trip. I'm very glad you did post your pics.
This is exactly what I would love to do.
One day maybe. Yeah one day soon before its to late.

Thanks.

Yep, me too.

There's something about those "old" scanned pictures that give the hills a sort of gritty clarity that leave you in no doubt as to the challenge they present.
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Re: Reminiscing of the Cuillin Ridge

Postby Johnny Corbett » Mon May 21, 2012 2:37 pm

Great stuff indeed though Naismiths route looks a bit hairy. I'm one of the feardies on this site who's approaching 200 and still not set foot on The Cuillins. One day i'll get there :D
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Re: Reminiscing of the Cuillin Ridge

Postby skuk007 » Mon May 21, 2012 3:41 pm

Great photos mongoose, not sure I'd be able to do that route though, looks well out my league.

Anything that involves being roped up I'd not be happy with, although I know to 'complete' I'll have to forget my fears for the Inn Pinn. :problem: :eh:
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Re: Reminiscing of the Cuillin Ridge

Postby madasa mongoose » Mon May 21, 2012 8:21 pm

Thanks all for your comments :D

Johnny Corbett wrote:I'm one of the feardies on this site who's approaching 200 and still not set foot on The Cuillins. One day i'll get there :D


I used to be a feardie and I'm still cautious when the terrain is very steep or exposed but a rope's a great confidence giver. I've climbed all sorts of stuff in all sorts of places which I never would have if I hadn't been at the end of a rope - attached to someone who knew what they were doing of course! :lol:

skuk007 wrote:Anything that involves being roped up I'd not be happy with, although I know to 'complete' I'll have to forget my fears for the Inn Pinn. :problem: :eh:


I started down at my local climbing wall just to get used to using ropes in a controlled environment. Then a few courses with Glenmore Lodge and lots of seconding with experienced friends/guides. Not suggesting you need to do all that but, used properly, a rope can give extra reassurance and open up all sorts of exciting routes. And, the more you do, the less scary it becomes. Honest! :)
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Re: Reminiscing of the Cuillin Ridge

Postby gaffr » Tue May 22, 2012 8:49 am

I enjoyed looking at your images of your traverse of the ridge. There's a lot more to the cuillin than is the oft photographed pinnacle. :) I was a few decades ahead of you on this journey. :) I have just one scanned image remaining of that fine day out in the hills. We had the rope on for the same sections where you folks used it with the addition of it on the King's chimney to reach Mhic Choinnich. Naithsmith's fine route to Basteir followed by the nice ridge up to Gillean gives a good finish to the traverse. :D There is so much in between the celebrated bits to maintain the interest for many a long hour. :lol: I went back a few more times to make the traverse, one with a bivvy at Druim nan Ramh and a couple of further visits that were abandonned when the weather altered during the trip. Each one of them were memorable days out in the cuillin. :lol:
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Re: Reminiscing of the Cuillin Ridge

Postby madasa mongoose » Tue May 22, 2012 11:52 am

Thanks gaffr. I agree there is so much more to the Cuillins than the In Pinn, though it is a stunning piece of rock! Tis a beautiful place and worth exploring whether or not the peaks meet the magic 3000ft mark :) I’ve always had a passion for climbing mountains and tend to revisit places I’ve found particularly inspiring. Probably explains why, nearly 30 years later (I started when I was two :wink: :shh:), I haven’t yet completed the ‘round’ though I hope to some day if only because it will take me into as yet unexplored terrain.
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Re: Reminiscing of the Cuillin Ridge

Postby LeithySuburbs » Tue May 22, 2012 12:08 pm

I quite like the scanned photos - something nostalgic about them :) . Cheers :D .
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Re: Reminiscing of the Cuillin Ridge

Postby madasa mongoose » Tue May 22, 2012 12:30 pm

LeithySuburbs wrote:I quite like the scanned photos - something nostalgic about them :) . Cheers :D .


Thanks Dougie :) Though the nostalgia reference makes me feel really old :wink: :lol:
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Re: Reminiscing of the Cuillin Ridge

Postby monty » Tue May 22, 2012 5:37 pm

Great set of photos. Aye your getting old Shirley :lol: :lol:

The climb up the TD gap looks great as well as Naismiths route. The ridge traverse is in my mind for the future. Fancy it? :D
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Re: Reminiscing of the Cuillin Ridge

Postby madasa mongoose » Tue May 22, 2012 8:05 pm

monty wrote: The ridge traverse is in my mind for the future. Fancy it? :D


Hmmm, do I fancy doing the ridge traverse again with Monty? Let me think... :think:

Nah. You'll just hold me back! :wink: :lol:
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Re: Reminiscing of the Cuillin Ridge

Postby dooterbang » Wed May 23, 2012 10:02 pm

Lovely retro report.

The cullins scare the ....well you know what, out of me!!

Some crazy climbing photos :shock:

I better get these done soon....
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