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Failure on Skye; how my better half is my wiser half.

Failure on Skye; how my better half is my wiser half.


Postby jacob » Fri May 06, 2016 12:53 pm

Route description: Bruach na Frithe

Munros included on this walk: Bruach na Frithe

Date walked: 26/04/2016

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My better half is not just better. She's also the wiser of us two.
After a long long year of waiting, it was finally time for our once a year visit to Scotland. We arrived on Skye the 23rd of April and used the 24th and 25th to get to know the Island a bit, by visiting/climbing Storr, the Quiraing, the Spar Cave, Prince Charlie's Cave and Coran beach (yes, we did find the Jurassic footprints....I think...)

The 26th would be our first attempt into the Black Cuillin. All excited and hyperactive I woke that morning, the lady still vast asleep, to find the world was covered in snow and sunshine. A beautiful morning.

SAM_2758 wh.jpg
Snow covered Sligachan campsite. Sunshine from behind Glamaig.


SAM_2759 wh.jpg
And a view towards the Cuillin.


So after the the lady awoke, we both had our coffee and breakfasts and we put on the rucksacks that were prepared the evening before, we set of.

SAM_2761 wh.jpg
Black Cuillin, the white version.


The plan was to follow the path from the campsite that lead you to Coire a Bhasteir, but at the gorge swing right to scramble onto the ridge of Sgurr a Bhasteir, to its summit, from there to avoid the teeth on Am Basteir and again to swing right to reach Bruach na Frithe. From there we were going to descend towards Bealach a Mhaim. The route drawn on the map is the route actually walked, not the planned route.


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The weather was changing every five minutes. All Vivaldi's four seasons every twenty minutes. A real joy.

SAM_2764 wh.jpg


Glen Sligachan was looking beautiful and the view on the Red Hills in snow was magnificent.

SAM_2765 wh.jpg


The higher we were up, the better was the view on Sgurr nan Gillean. The view on the pinnacles, that can't be seen from the campsite, was impressive. The more with all four seasons fighting eachother around these pinnacles.

SAM_2767 wh.jpg


SAM_2766 wh.jpg


But never forget to look backwards as well. Not only for routefinding, also for the views. Here's another one on the Red Hills and Loch Sligachan.

SAM_2772 wh.jpg



However, the higher the steeper. Here we are, close to the gorge to Loch Bhasteir and the rigde to Sgurr a Bhasteir is clearly visible on the right.

SAM_2777 wh.jpg


And from there the failure begins. Having arrived at the ridge, we discovered it was all covered in ice. Now on my own, I would have maybe attempted the ascend. Stupidly so, for we didn't bring the proper materials for it. Having my lady with me though, means I have to listen to reason. Stubborn as I am, I decided to do check the ridge for doable scrambleroutes. "I'll be back soon". This is me trying to find a way through ice covered rock, leaving my reluctant lady behind.

IMG_4037 wh.jpg


Being up there though only proved me wrong in being stubborn and her right in being reluctant. Without the proper materials this would be to dangerous a expedition. We decided to go back to the campsite. She relieved. Me grumpy and anxious that we might not be able to do any summit this holiday.

Coming down from the ridge with cold hands and a snowstorm above.

SAM_2779 wh.jpg

Cold hands.

SAM_2780 wh.jpg

Snowstorm above.

With views like this though, how can anyone stay grumpy for a long period of time? It proved to be the start of a lovely holiday on Skye. More walkreports to come.

SAM_2787 wh.jpg


Edit: forgot to include my drawing of the place:

SAM_3001 wh.jpg
Last edited by jacob on Fri May 06, 2016 4:06 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Failure on Skye; how my better half is my wiser half.

Postby Mal Grey » Fri May 06, 2016 1:01 pm

Sometimes you have to make these decisions, definitely the right one without winter equipment. I wouldn't view it as failure though, just a change of plan. How can it be a failure to have been up and seen those fantastic views, and got such great photos?
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Re: Failure on Skye; how my better half is my wiser half.

Postby Alteknacker » Fri May 06, 2016 8:36 pm

Looks like you had fabulous views in the best place on the planet; and it looks to me like you made a good call.

I had to make a similar sort of call this last weekend, and in retrospect I'm 120% sure it was the right one.

I've discovered (and this discovery has taken an embarrassingly long time) that different people have different views of - and tolerance levels in respect of - risk. For example: it's really difficult for someone with no particular problem with exposure to understand the issues that people who do have. But these issues are absolutely real: it's challenging for those on one end of the spectrum to understand the perspective of those on the other. But I'm sure that the best thing is to accommodate it.

I'm planning to put this stuff to the test in about a month's time on the self-same Black Cuillin. Hopefully I can remember my own advice :?

BTW: it must be wonderful to camp in Sligahan without having to endure trial by midge..... (the only way I've experienced it) :(
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Re: Failure on Skye; how my better half is my wiser half.

Postby Jaxter » Fri May 06, 2016 9:16 pm

Those photos look stunning, I think even getting as far as you did into those mountains must be an amazing experience. :shock: :clap: :D

I'm not good at backing out either, far too stubborn :lol: but I guess we just have to remember that the mountain will still be there - it would be good to be around to enjoy it :wink:

Definitely whetted my appetite for the Cuillin though :D
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Re: Failure on Skye; how my better half is my wiser half.

Postby BobMcBob » Fri May 06, 2016 11:37 pm

That's not a failure, look at the photos you got! Retreating is often the hardest of decisions to make but it sounds like you succeeded in making a good call - your choice of route would be challenging in any conditions.
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Re: Failure on Skye; how my better half is my wiser half.

Postby jacob » Sat May 07, 2016 7:56 am

Thanks all for your kind remarks.

@Mal Grey:
I wouldn't view it as failure though, just a change of plan. How can it be a failure to have been up and seen those fantastic views, and got such great photos?


True. I can look at it this way. But not on the exact moment we're deciding to go down again. And aren't most of us secretly summit lovers, more than slope lovers? :lol:

@Alteknacker:
and it looks to me like you made a good call.
I'm sure of it myself as well. Like I said: sometimes you need the mrs. for the sane reasoning.

I've discovered (and this discovery has taken an embarrassingly long time) that different people have different views of - and tolerance levels in respect of - risk.


True, but the same goes for energy levels and endurance. Also difficult to put yourself in the other's shoes when they're tired and you're full of energy. Climbing mountains is like life itself. Together you go slower but further.

I'm planning to put this stuff to the test in about a month's time on the self-same Black Cuillin. Hopefully I can remember my own advice :?
Good luck with that. And good luck with the midges as well :lol:

@Jaxter:
Those photos look stunning, I think even getting as far as you did into those mountains must be an amazing experience. :shock: :clap: :D
Thank you, and it definitely was.

I'm not good at backing out either, far too stubborn :lol: but I guess we just have to remember that the mountain will still be there - it would be good to be around to enjoy it :wink:
Oh the curse that is stubborness :lol:
And true, the mountains will still be there. It's just a pity I'll have to wait another year before visiting them again :(

@BobMcBob:
That's not a failure, look at the photos you got!
Thank you, and I am very happy with the opportunity to be able to go on holiday and experience things like this, in weather like this resulting in photos like these.
your choice of route would be challenging in any conditions.
I understood from the Skye Scrambles by Noel Williams, it's a good introduction scramble for the less experienced?
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Re: Failure on Skye; how my better half is my wiser half.

Postby dogplodder » Sun May 08, 2016 6:04 pm

It's never a wasted trip - just regard it as a recce for the next time. And thanks for sharing those stunning photos! :D
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