walkhighlands

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.

Singin' in the Rain: The Northern Cullins

Singin' in the Rain: The Northern Cullins


Postby thewildlassielife » Wed Aug 12, 2020 5:07 pm

Route description: Am Basteir

Munros included on this walk: Am Basteir, Bruach na Frithe, Sgurr nan Gillean

Date walked: 01/07/2016

Time taken: 10 hours

Distance: 17.91 km

Ascent: 1212m

1 person thinks 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 met Jonah and Iain (our guides) near the Sligachan car park and it was a dry start that day, however later the rain (and hail) started for the technical climbing and scrambling sections! We had a long, but pleasant walk in along the river, and Iain passed the time by pointing out the flora along the path. At one point in the path the 'tourist' route to Bruach na Frithe split off from ours: we were going to continue towards of the bealach between Am Basteir and Sgurr nan Gillean and cut across from there to Bruach na Frithe instead.

On the way up, Jonah explained to us the difference in the rocks. The Cuillins are essentially made of two types of rock. Basalt, which is fine in the dry but becomes as slippery as an ice rink in the wet, and gabbro, which is rough and shreds hands/gloves in minutes but your boots will grip to it no matter the conditions. So 'gabbro is like velcro', that's how we remembered it.

Further up our path we stopped to put our helmets and harnesses on as we were going to walk straight up a large, bare boulder of gabbro. As we continued along the path the rain, which had started to patter down as we climbed the boulder, was getting heavier. We found a cave to shelter in and sit out the worst of the rain and then kept going.

ImageSkye 2016 day 2 by Cara Morison, on Flickr

With the rain dying down we continued on our path. Jonah sent us towards Bruach na Frithe first with Iain - although it can be hard going on the scree, it's not a technical climb and we were soon at the top. On the way back down, Peter and Rory showed off some impressive 'Mountain Men' poses.

ImageSkye 2016 day 2 by Cara Morison, on Flickr

ImageSkye 2016 day 2 by Cara Morison, on Flickr

ImageSkye 2016 day 2 by Cara Morison, on Flickr

Once we rejoined Jonah at the bealach, we were split into two groups: the four of us Wild Lassies and Rory (Sam's boyfriend at the time, now fiancé) were in one group and after this experience we would always want to be together for something scary. We were with Jonah so he supervised us and told us where to go. On the climb up Am Basteir we were assailed by a hailstone storm. Jonah stopped us and roped us together, mainly because it was so wet that rocks that weren't completely horizontal became lethal. Jonah knew his way around and took us routes specifically for the weather.

Cara:

Jen went first of our group as the most competent. She says what she thinks, she thinks before she acts and is VERY level headed and logical - the perfect leader for this situation. She communicated every instruction she received from Jonah accurately to me who was behind her and added her own advice. I came next. I was not level headed, I was very scared but I was also determined. I inhaled every bit of advice and instruction from Jen and, rather than communicating it to Sam (behind me), I narrated every move I made so she could hear everything I was experiencing. I think this was a coping technique in the end but it seemed to work well for our group dynamic.

Sam took things at her own pace, fully aware of the precarious position and completely terrified, she worked out in her problem-solving mind how to approach each step. Occasionally she'd ask for help or opinions on a plan and once reviewed she'd bravely and effectively make said step. Rory was behind Sam, constantly with a mischievous grin on his face. He was loving every minute but was aware of the danger, his smile almost suggested he was doing something he knew he shouldn't be but was loving it. He patiently waited for each move Sam made, gently encouraging her and taking the backlash when she didn't appreciate the encouragement. Finally Naomi followed up. She wasn't as scared and was sure of step so was the logical choice to sweep up (the motherly role). She was patient and managed to understand the Chinese whisper of instructions which flowed down the chain of people.

Naomi:

At one point, Rory and I were at the back, clinging to a piece of rock as we waited for the people ahead of us to move. We were hanging over a drop so high we couldn't see the bottom, being battered by the wind and hail. At the point where the rain/hail started dripping down the back of my neck, I remember looking over at Rory...'you realise we've chosen to spend our holiday here?' He grinned.

We reached the top of Am Basteir all roped together but beginning to get slightly more used to our group dynamic.

ImageSkye 2016 day 2 by Cara Morison, on Flickr

ImageSkye 2016 day 2 by Cara Morison, on Flickr

ImageSkye 2016 day 2 by Cara Morison, on Flickr

Cara:

When we got back down to the Bealach we could see other group abseiling down a chimney leading up to Sgurr nan Gillean. We had to wait quite a long time for them to finish and I was very cold. The ski gloves that I'd brought were soaked through and were very heavy with water but I knew I couldn't risk taking them off. I jumped up and down and did star jumps to keep warm. Little did I know that the climb up this chimney would get my heart pumping and soon the cold would be a thing of the past.

Cara:

We started climbing up the chimney but in a different order. Rory was ahead of me and as he climbed he turned with a mischievous look and told me not to tell his mum about this.

ImageSkye 2016 day 2 by Cara Morison, on Flickr

ImageSkye 2016 day 2 by Cara Morison, on Flickr

ImageSkye 2016 day 2 by Cara Morison, on Flickr

The climb up the chimney was tricky, with one section where you had to turn across the chimney and walk up, wedged against the wall.

We got up to the top of the chimney - from there the walk to the summit was more straightforward, although very exposed. The only tricky section was climbing through a window in the rock, which we took turns to do.

ImageSkye 2016 day 2 by Cara Morison, on Flickr

We went up, still taking our time and then came back down to do the abseil.

Naomi:

For reasons best known to himself, Jonah decided to volunteer me to go first down the abseil. Although inwardly freaking out about the idea, I decided it would be best not to let Cara or Sam think it was a big deal, so away I went. I had abseiled exactly once in my life before this, and never anywhere remotely technical. The abseil down was...exhilarating. It was part abseil, part climb, part slide. With Jonah's cheerful instructions whipping past me in the wind I made most of it up as I went and was very relieved to get back to the ledge at the bottom.

ImageSkye 2016 day 2 by Cara Morison, on Flickr

For reasons best known to himself, Jonah decided to volunteer me to go first down the abseil. Although inwardly freaking out about the idea, I decided it would be best not to let Cara or Sam think it was a big deal, so away I went. I had abseiled exactly once in my life before this, and never anywhere remotely technical. The abseil down was...exhilarating. It was part abseil, part climb, part slide. With Jonah's cheerful instructions whipping past me in the wind I made most of it up as I went and was very relieved to get back to the ledge at the bottom.

From the ledge to the bealach (and the bags), down past the cave, past the gabbro boulder and out to the path down the glen. The day had been crazy, scary, exhilarating, cold, heart-racing, wet, enlightening, thrilling, beautiful, amazing and long. We headed back down the mountain to the Sligachan pub for a well earned drink before going home to eat a delicious dinner.

Jen:

Whilst I would have had no qualms about summitting Bruach na Frithe myself in these conditions I knew I would have chosen to turn back at Am Bastier and Sgurr nan Gillean. Another successful day in the Cuillins.

Cara:

The following day, we were given the break we needed. Jonah called to say that weather for the day looked even worse and that he wouldn't advise it. Without leaving my bed I text the rest of the house and went back for another hour of sleep. Despite our aim to get all of the Cullins done that week, our bodies were grateful for this bit of respite.

Although the weather prevented us from going out on the hills, this is the day we discovered that Skye has an odd weather system. It was beautiful and sunny where we were and yet we couldn't see the Cuillins all day. So we decided to stay in the north of the island and headed down to Neist Point. Most of us had been here before but with such beautiful weather we spent some time sitting on the rocks and discussing the events of the day before.

ImageSkye 2016 day 2 by Cara Morison, on Flickr

ImageSkye 2016 day 2 by Cara Morison, on Flickr

ImageSkye 2016 day 2 by Cara Morison, on Flickr

Suddenly we saw the unmistakable fin of an orca very slowly swimming about 100 yards from the point. With that we heard a tourist shout 'big fish'. We only saw this orca on its own for about 5 minutes but it had made this day perfect.
thewildlassielife
Mountaineer
 
Posts: 10
Munros:92   
Joined: Aug 1, 2019

1 person thinks 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

We need help to keep the site online.
Can you help support Walkhighlands and the online community by setting up a monthly donation by direct debit?



Return to Walk reports - Scotland

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 55 guests