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Cuillin the First

PostPosted: Thu Jun 28, 2018 7:24 am
by dbogosian
I was on Skye for the very first time, and eager to put a few Munro notches on my belt. After extensive research on these pages, I had concluded that two of the Black Cuillin would be within my reach. On the first day after reaching Skye, the weather was all clear, and so it was to Glenbrittle that we went to tackle our first Munro, Sgurr na Banachdich.

The early going, along the river bank, is delightful. The water flows in a rather deep ravine, but when the sun reaches those pools, they light up all green and pretty.
NOT the Fairy Pools

As you veer away from the stream, the path gets steeper. Finding the point at which to make that veer to the right is a little tricky; lucky for me, I had my daughter along and she spotted the path. I did start a small cairn at that junction on my way down, but I was so tired by that point that it's totally invisible; others will have to build it up! The path heads up and eventually brings you in the encircling arms of the Coire an Eich. I have to say, it's pretty daunting to stand there and think, "how on earth can I get up that?" But from this point on, the summit of Banachdich, though not often very clear, is always visible.
Coire an Eich up ahead

And indeed the going up the left side of the Coire is very tough. Lots of scree, very steep slopes, and often no idea of a path. But I have to commend the WH route description, it was spot on and did not lead us astray.
[angle not exaggerated!]

Soon we were under the brow of An Diallaid, a smaller promontory to the left.
Standing proud under the shadow of An Diallaid

Looking back, the view towards Rum was just splendid.
View to the south, with Rum in centre

Once you reach the ridge above An Diallaid, it is still steep but somehow having the summit in sight is a marvelous motivator. After more scree and guessing at a path ("Was that it? No, maybe it's here."), we eventually reached the ridge. I am at a loss to capture the sensations of reaching that ridge and looking over it at the entire Cuillin range and everything else that lay beyond. It was a very moving experience that I shall never forget; after reading reports and looking at maps, seeing photos and watching videos, to have reached that point in person and to see that view was immensely gratifying.

This was a good day for views, but not great. A heather fire had burned the day before, and luckily for us the roads had reopened that morning otherwise we would never have been able to get to Glenbrittle. The fire was mostly out but it was still smoldering and putting some smoke into the air, thus the clarity was not what it might have been. But I did not care, I was on the Cuillin ridge, and after a very modest additional climb, on the summit of my first Skye Munro.

A few views from the summit are shown below, but there is no hope of capturing the elation of seeing this amazing sight.
Sgurr Ghreadaidh [I think?]

Blaven, Loch Coruisk, and the southern extension of the black Cuillin

Did I really drag myself up here?!?! In Pinn in the background.

Sgurr a Ghreadaidh again, in all its rugged grandeur

The way down was very difficult, owing to the scree. We retraced our steps as best we could, but the steepness of this route and the roughness of the going in the upper third felt punishing.Finally, near the bottom, having once again reached the stream, we had the chance to cool our feet in the lovely waters of Allt a Choire Ghreadaidh. The air being warm, the water was cold but not freezing and a welcome sensation to our poor tired feet. Putting the boots back on took an immense exercise of will.
Just the ticket for those aching feet!

All in all, this was a very memorable climb for me, my first Cuillin and first Skye Munro. The views from the top are simply astonishing. It's certainly the steepest route I have ever attempted, but it's very achievable even for duffers like myself. If you are on Skye and have modestly good weather, this is one walk I would definitely recommend.

Re: Cuillin the First

PostPosted: Thu Jun 28, 2018 9:17 am
by Sgurr
What views!! No wonder you were ecstatic. We came up here with a guide as an alternative to climbing the Inn Pin for which he was booked, but was obviously a non starter. We had lunch under what felt like a power shower. At the summit he asked if we would like to wander over in the direction of the Inn Pin and wait to see if it cleared (not forecast to do so) and we declined. Seeing the route to the Inn Pin, I am glad we did. Far, far better to do it the way you did than just a tick on the list.

Re: Cuillin the First

PostPosted: Fri Jun 29, 2018 2:58 pm
by dbogosian
Sgurr wrote:Seeing the route to the Inn Pin, I am glad we did.

Even in fair weather, the ridge routes leading away from Banachdich in either direction looked completely intimidating. You made the right call.