Complete! - Sick Kid bags her Full House on Skye
by weaselmaster » Tue Jun 19, 2018 10:21 pm
Munros included on this walk: Am Basteir, Bla Bheinn, Inaccessible Pinnacle, Sgurr a'Ghreadaidh, Sgurr a'Mhadaidh, Sgurr Alasdair, Sgurr Mhic Choinnich, Sgurr na Banachdich, Sgurr nan Gillean
Date walked: 18/06/2018
Distance: 27 km
Ascent: 4005m19 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).
We left Thurso early on Sunday morning. The fine weather of the previous week had changed - mist and drizzle accompanied us down the road, ruling out any hopes I had of nipping up Maiden Pap at Braemore en route. We did head to the standing stones at Achavanich - a most unusual set up more like a giant horseshoe than a circle, with the flat faces of the stone slabs at 90 degrees to the inside of the "circle". There was also the remains of an older (c5000 years) chambered cairn nearby. I spotted a weasel watching us - oddly it came towards us in little leaps, dipping down between the stones and re-appearing a few feet nearer each time. Sweet. As we were in the area, I also took Allison along to the chambered cairns at Caimster - perhaps the best examples on the mainland (although re-constructed) and featuring a crawl of 20 feet through a narrow passage to get into the Round Cairn.
Then it was into the car and back to the 21st Century. An uneventful journey to Skye, calling in at the Co-Op in Broadford for supplies and arriving at Sligachan in some almost sunshine. After pitching the tent I sat and read routes in the Cuillin and increased my anxiety further I did find a quotation from HV Morton in 1920: “Imagine Wagner’s ‘Ride of the Valkyries’ frozen in stone and hung up like a colossal screen against the sky. It seems as if Nature when she hurled the Cuillin up into the light of the sun said: ‘their scarred ravines shall lead up to towering spires of rock- unlike any other rock so they will never look the same for very long; now blue, now grey, now silver - but always drenched in mystery and terrors'" This seemed quite in keeping with my views. I decided I should go up a hill to settle myself - there's a very quick Marilyn (Meall a'Mhaoil) at the golf club at Sgonnsair. I was back in less than an hour and a half, a little more relaxed and ready for some food before we went to meet Paul.
In a busy (and re-furbed since we were last here) Slig we met up with Paul. He listened to our concerns and suggested it was probably best to abandon plans for the whole ridge, therefore have lighter packs, have a long day tomorrow getting the essentials (ie Allison's Tops) done and then decide what to do on Tuesday, the weather forecast to break early on Wednesday when Storm Hector would hit us. I was relieved more than disappointed - I'd done the Tops previously so knew they were within my capability, but having cancelled a Ridge Traverse due to Allison's back 3 years ago (when I was perhaps more mentally fit for it) I suspected I'd now never get it done. We strolled back to the tent for an early night, as we had arranged to meet Paul at 6.15 in Glen Brittle.
A pleasant morning, blue sky and light clouds as we drove down empty roads to the Youth Hostel. Some sleep had been had. I wasn't feeling too anxious, Allison still struggling with her shins but the swelling a bit reduced. We kitted up and headed up to Coir' a'Ghrunnda. Up to the loch - we could hear a couple of climbers up at the TD Gap as we edged round between Sgurr Sgumain and Alasdair. A raven decided to be our guide for a bit, hopping upwards a few feet ahead of us for quite a while. Maybe this was a good omen (or maybe he was sizing us up for lunch). Up to Alasdair first - nice dry rock which made feet feel much more confident than the rain and smirr I encountered last time. As we were descending towards Thearlaich we met the guys we'd heard earlier, who seemed a bit confused as to where they were, hoping to reach the Pin by tea time. Paul put them right and suggested they'd be at the Pin by elevenses.
P1180807 by Al, on Flickr
P1180808 by Al, on Flickr
Up towards Alasdair
P1180809 by Al, on Flickr
P1180810 by Al, on Flickr
Our "raven guide"
P1180812 by Al, on Flickr
P1180814 by Al, on Flickr
Thearlaich was easier than last time too - the dry rock not having the greasiness I remembered from before. The next sloping section was alright - I was practicing my secret strategy of "not looking down" which was holding me in good stead as we walked along Collie's Ledge towards MhicChoinnich. Third time up here - first time with views. I'm almost enjoying this now. We can see the Pin jutting up out of Sgurr Dearg and make our way towards it. First time round we were in clag and rain, zero visibiltiy and no-one else around. Today the sky is clear and there are a number of folk in a queue ahead of us. I'm not worrying about this, even though Paul's got me going up ahead of Allison (previously we've always climbed her first, me second on the rope - Paul thought I should embrace change). When it's our turn I start off confidently - there are such good holds that it's easy going even for a wuss like me. Up to the crux, wait for Paul then up to the top. I clamber up to put my hand on top of the Bolster Stone, whilst Paul nips up on top. We wait a wee bit to get down - this bit's a little more challenging than I'd expected and I have to remind myself to trust the rope as I walk backwards into the drop zone. Allison soon follows suit and we continue onwards, leaving the onlookers and climbers behind.
P1180815 by Al, on Flickr
P1180816 by Al, on Flickr
P1180817 by Al, on Flickr
P1180819 by Al, on Flickr
P1180820 by Al, on Flickr
P1180821 by Al, on Flickr
P1180823 by Al, on Flickr
View back to Alasdair
P1180825 by Al, on Flickr
P1180826 by Al, on Flickr
Paul heading up the Pin
P1180827 by Al, on Flickr
And on the Bolster Stone
P1180829 by Al, on Flickr
Pin summit shot
P1180830 by Al, on Flickr
Allison getting ready to descend
P1180831 by Al, on Flickr
There's a straightforward section now onto Banachdaich - we pause for lunch. I'm surprised by how much we've covered already today - I did these 4 tops over 2 days last time, though it was very wet then. Onto Banachdaich's central peak - 3 to go. We drop down again then clamber up Thormaid, Allison scampering along off rope, me still being a poodle on a lead. We look back the way we've come, and down to Loch Coruisk. A group of 4 climbers are some way ahead of us, otherwise we have the place to ourselves.
Onwards to Banachdaich
P1180834 by Al, on Flickr
P1180835 by Al, on Flickr
3 to go - Banadaich Central Top
P1180836 by Al, on Flickr
Looking back where we've been
P1180837 by Al, on Flickr
...and on to Thormaid
P1180838 by Al, on Flickr
P1180839 by Al, on Flickr
P1180841 by Al, on Flickr
P1180842 by Al, on Flickr
From Thormaid we start up the steep and exposed slopes to Ghreadaidh. I know what's coming and start to feel my anxiety build. I'd been OK on this bit before but had watched various videos (yes, Scoob including yours) and knew the drops on either side. as we started over the Teeth I was really anxious, making mistakes and generally expecting the worst. Allison meanwhile is having a ball. If things had gone to plan this would have been her moment of completion when she sat on the south top - as it was she still have Bla Bheinn south to do. Shame, as she was really exhilarated at this point.
P1180843 by Al, on Flickr
One left - Ghreadaidh South Top
P1180844 by Al, on Flickr
We continued onto Ghreadaidh, past the Wart and down to An Dorus. A quick nip up a'Mhadaidh brought the day to an end - we sauntered down into Coire a'Ghreadaidh, with Paul having a dip in the pools and were back at the car before 5pm. A satisfying day other than my attack of the jitters. We discussed plans for the next day. I really didn't think my skills or nerve were up to doing the more technically demanding sections - like over Bidean Druim na Ramh or going up the Tooth by Naismiths. Paul didn't disagree. We settled for a short day of Gillean, Am Bhasteir and its Tooth - again we'd done this before and I wasn't feeling too worried about it. We could start later - 7.30 at the Slig would do.
View back to Ghreadaidh
P1180847 by Al, on Flickr
P1180848 by Al, on Flickr
P1180849 by Al, on Flickr
Cloud was down on Tuesday morning - there had been some rain overnight and the nice dry rock of yesterday was now damp. We walked up into Coire a'Bhaister, left our packs at the bealach between Gillean and Bhasteir and headed for the west ridge. I felt OK about climbing up here - but when we got to the top of the chimney Paul had us on a short rope rather than belay. This freaked me out for some reason - last time our guide had gone off and belayed us up this section. although Paul was much closer and could advise where to put feet and hands I was panicking and didn't enjoy the experience. I'd forgotten that the descent was by the second chimney, and that we didn't have to retrace our steps, which didn't help either. We made it to the top of Alastair. I announced there was no way we would be doing the Tooth today. Paul seemed upset with himself that I was taking it so badly, I just felt daft.
Marsco, on the way to Gillean
P1180850 by Al, on Flickr
P1180851 by Al, on Flickr
We made it down and had lunch where we'd left the sacks. Another group were coming up to the bealach, also stopping for lunch. We nipped ahead of them up onto Bhasteir and both Paul and Allison seemed determined that we should continue to the Tooth. "You'll regret it if you don't go" says she. Gritting my own teeth I agree. Paul's not quite sure about his rope being adequate to rap down from King's cave - he's only brought 40m and a 20m. We might have to "do some stuff" if he's left his own descent too short. But in the meantime we lower off into Bealach nan Lice and wait for Paul to join us, then head round to the Tooth. OK i've made it - let's get down We have a snack at the top of King's cave then descend into the chamber. I head off first, banging my shins on the overhang. Allison follows, doing the same and has some interesting bruises along her legs to show for the experience. We check Paul's rope for his rap - 40m makes it to the scree exactly. he birls down and we tramp back towards the Slig. He's been an excellent guide, particularly for Allison, letting her gain confidence in her scrambling and is just an all-round nice person. We hug and he drives off.
P1180852 by Al, on Flickr
P1180854 by Al, on Flickr
Summit Am Bhasteir
P1180855 by Al, on Flickr
Sgurr a'Fhionn Choire
P1180856 by Al, on Flickr
Sgurr na Uamha from Bealach nan Lice
P1180857 by Al, on Flickr
Top of the Tooth
P1180858 by Al, on Flickr
Oh I look so relaxed
P1180859 by Al, on Flickr
Down from King's cave
P1180861 by Al, on Flickr
So no Traverse - I'm quite sanguine about that - I concede that the full traverse is beyond me, mentally at least. Which is vexing as there are a few Sims along the way. I feel sorrier for Allison who has loved the scrambly stuff, as usual and - despite her shin splints - would have been much more likely to make a successful crossing than me. She's done most of the exposed stuff rope free and shows bags of confidence.
We check the weather for the following day. Rain to come in between 9 and 10 am and winds getting up to scary speeds as the day progresses. We'd better have another early start then. Meanwhile, a maurauding seagull decides to try raiding our tent. Try harder (and when we're not there watching you!) We agree on getting up at 5, which should see us starting Bla Bhainn by 6.30. However when I wake at 4.15 I can see little point in dozing over and we get up - it's a fine morning - most unusual for any of our completions. We drive on empty roads round to the parking area at Loch Slapin and start on up.
P1180864 by Al, on Flickr
Not a bad morning for a completion
P1180865 by Al, on Flickr
Bla Bheinn and Clach Glas
P1180866 by Al, on Flickr
Cloud is coming and going from the summit but at least it's dry and not too windy. We head up into Fionna-choire and start to scramble over the rocks before we spot a motorway-sized path heading our way. Up to the south top and that's it - Full House complete. It's 7.30am so the celebrations are limited to a tiny sip of whisky. Allison has a look at the linking ridge to the Munro summit, but her legs are tired and sore and she seems only half awake. That'll wait for another day. Meanwhiles it's back down to the top of Fionna-choire and up to Slat Bheinn (can't miss out on an easy Sim now ) before returning to the car. I head off for a nearby Marilyn before we drive slowly back to Broadford, stopping for a celebratory pizza in Cafesia. It's now raining heavily and we spend the remainder of the afternoon in the tent, before braving it over to the Slig for tea and a pub quiz.
Will it be clear or not?
P1180867 by Al, on Flickr
P1180868 by Al, on Flickr
P1180871 by Al, on Flickr
P1180873 by Al, on Flickr
A muted celebration
P1180874 by Al, on Flickr
P1180876 by Al, on Flickr
P1180877 by Al, on Flickr
P1180879 by Al, on Flickr
P1180880 by Al, on Flickr
P1180882 by Al, on Flickr
So that's her done it - the 51st person to record a Full House, only the 7th woman. Hats off to the lassie
by rockhopper » Tue Jun 19, 2018 10:34 pm
Pity about the traverse but looked most enjoyable nonetheless - cheers
by Sgurr » Tue Jun 19, 2018 11:06 pm
by Alteknacker » Tue Jun 19, 2018 11:10 pm
by BlackPanther » Wed Jun 20, 2018 9:01 am
We're going up the In Pin next month... Having seen your photos, I think I'm seriously deranged even attempting this with my vertigo
by robertphillips » Wed Jun 20, 2018 2:23 pm
by The Lady In Ivan » Wed Jun 20, 2018 2:53 pm
Well done you, an inspiration to all us wifies
Al, as usual your photies capture the moments beautifully and show off our amazing scenery. I loved the shot of that bad step on Bastier, I could see my ledge! So many things I have yet to attempt on the ridge...Collies ledge, Thearlaich, A'Mhadaidh tops and some of the longer abseils. Just a tad jel because I am just not going to get the time this year!
ps How did you get on in the Quiz?
by yokehead » Wed Jun 20, 2018 4:01 pm
by gammy leg walker » Wed Jun 20, 2018 8:09 pm
by Mal Grey » Wed Jun 20, 2018 8:24 pm
by Giant Stoneater » Wed Jun 20, 2018 9:33 pm
- Giant Stoneater
- Posts: 529
- Joined: Aug 2, 2014
by malky_c » Wed Jun 20, 2018 10:40 pm
Skye looking as interesting as ever. The Bhasteir Tooth is the thing that will potentially thwart me finishing the tops - must have a bash at it sometime by the easy route.
by Coop » Thu Jun 21, 2018 10:13 am
Fantastic area to finish on
by wally » Thu Jun 21, 2018 5:14 pm
by Chris Mac » Fri Jun 22, 2018 3:29 pm
A great write up and images, at least your ongoing Marilyn quest shouldn't be so scary from now on...