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Cuillin Northern Three

Cuillin Northern Three


Postby dav2930 » Tue May 26, 2015 10:38 pm

Route description: Sgurr nan Gillean

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

Date walked: 27/06/2014

Time taken: 10 hours

Distance: 14 km

Ascent: 1160m

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This is an account of one of my favourite outings of 2014, which took place before I discovered the brilliant Walkhighlands site. I thought it might be of interest to those contemplating a traverse of the Cuillin Ridge, or the particular section of it recorded here.


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Late in June 2014 my erstwhile and long-suffering walking buddy Karl and myself travelled up to Skye with the ambitious hope of doing a complete traverse of the Cuillin Ridge over two days. Our plan was to walk up from Glen Brittle to Loch Coir' a' Ghrunnda, deposit our bivvi kit there then scramble over Sgurr nan Eag to Gars Bheinn and back again, thus bagging the easy southern part of the traverse on the first day. We were to set off very early the following morning to complete the rest of the ridge, descending to Sligachan and walking back up to Ghrunnda to collect our bivvi kit a couple of days later (allowing for a celebration and a good rest).

Well, that was the plan. But you know what Robbie Burns said about plans - even the best-laid ones! :roll: As we drove north the forecast was indicating only one decent day the whole week - Tuesday 24th. Reluctantly relinquishing our initial plan, we resigned ourselves to making the most of the one day. So on the Tuesday we set off from Glen Brittle at 3.00 am (I ask you!) for Coir' a' Ghrunnda, intending to miss out the southern bit and cover as much of the ridge northwards as we could, either descending back to Glen Brittle or, if we got as far as Gillean, down to Sligachan. Well, guess what? A thick, wet mist covered the whole of the Cuillins almost down to sea level. As we walked up into it we hoped it would clear, but it never did. We sat by Loch Coir' a' Ghrunnda waiting, and waiting; and still it showed not the slightest sign of lifting or thinning or otherwise clearing off. Everything was dark and soaking. There was no way we'd get across the Thearlaich-dubh gap in that. So, with great reluctance and heavy hearts, we went back down. :(

Then, unexpectedly, Thursday turned out to be a perfect day. :shock: But we just weren't prepared - a lesson to be learned there!

Skye June 2014 006.JPG
Oh no, it's a perfect day and we're not ready to go! Sgurr nan Gillean & co. from the campsite at Sligachan on Thursday 16th June.


Fortunately, the forecast was now good for Friday too. So we spent Thursday stocking up on provisions and packing our rucksacks in preparation for Friday, which gave us plenty of time to rue the fact that we had blown a rare opportunity to go for the complete traverse! :cry: Needless to say, a few unwholesome remarks about the Met Office passed between us.

I was quite keen on going back to do as we had planned for the Tuesday. But Karl, understandably, didn't fancy slogging up to Ghrunnda again and, moreover, he liked the look of Gillean. So, we decided to do the northern end of the ridge, taking in Bruach na Frithe, Am Bhasteir and Sgurr nan Gillean. We also wanted to include Naismith's Route up the Bhasteir Tooth, since that's the way a proper traverse of the ridge should be done (!). This would familiarize us with one of the more technical sections, standing us in good stead for a future attempt at the complete traverse. Hence, we packed our harnesses, helmets, a rope, some slings and a minimal rack of nuts and hexes.

On Friday morning we set off walking from the campsite at about 6.45 and the weather was indeed clear and sunny, if somewhat breezy. We soon found the big path heading towards the Bealach a' Mhaim and were elated to be on the hill again. :D

Skye June 2014 013.JPG
Sgurr nan Gillean, Am Bhasteir and Sgurr a' Bhasteir from the Allt Dearg Mor.

Skye June 2014 015.JPG
The Pinnacle Ridge of Sgurr nan Gillean on the left, Sgurr a' Bhasteir in the middle and Bruach na Frithe on the right.

Just before reaching the Bealach a big cairn marks the well blazoned path heading up towards Fionn Choire and some distance up this a right branch leads out onto the north-west ridge of Bruach na Frithe. As we plodded up this Karl was looking warily up ahead, to where the ridge rears up forbiddingly towards the summit. :shock: I reassured him that a good path skirts that bit on the right and regains the ridge higher up. (I had been up these peaks on a solo trip back in 2001 - though of course I did not include the Bhasteir Tooth!)

Karl was duly reassured when (and only when) the path did indeed veer off to the right as promised. The view from that point, across Coir a Tairneilear to Bidean Druim nan Ramh and Sgurr a' Mhadaidh, were jaw-dropping.

Skye June 2014 018.JPG
Bidean Druim nan Ramh and Sgurr a' Mhadaidh from the path up Bruach na Frithe where it quits the N.W. Ridge for a rising traverse along the west face.

Skye June 2014 020.JPG
Zooming in on Bidean Druim nan Ramh - a truly outrageous section of the Cuillin Ridge!

The rising traverse is quite exhilerating, eventually zigging back left to reach the foot of a shallow gully leading onto the N.W. Ridge of Bruach, above the ominous looking step. A short and easy scramble then leads to the trig point on the summit.

Skye June 2014 026.JPG
Karl on the summit of Bruach na Frithe.

The weather was ideal - dry, not too hot, not too cold, and nothing like as windy as we feared it might be. We fed and watered and took in the fabulous views of the mighty Cuillin peaks and the nearby ocean. It was greatly satisfying to be on the main ridge itself at last. :D

Skye June 2014 022.JPG
Looking south along the main ridge from Bruach na Frithe

Skye June 2014 024.JPG
We're going that way! - Looking east to Sgurr a' Fionn Choire, Am Bhasteir and Sgurr nan Gillean, from Bruach na Frithe.

The descent eastwards from Bruach na Frithe was very easy going but we were looking apprehensively at what lay ahead. From this angle Am Bhasteir looks like something out of Tolkein.

Skye June 2014 029.JPG
Whoa! You mean we're going up that?! Am Bhasteir, with the Tooth facing, from below Sgurr a Fionn Choire. A pair of climbers are just visible on Naismith's Route.

We by-passed Sgurr a' Fionn Choire, as is customary on a traverse of the ridge, since we were keen to get to grips with the Bhasteir Tooth. As we gazed at it with a mixture of excitement and horror, we noticed a pair of climbers established on Naismith's Route.

Skye June 2014 030.JPG
Zooming in on the climbers on Naismith's Route.

We watched the climbers for a while with great interest - after all, we intended to follow them. The leader, about half way up, had not moved for some time. Hmm. What did this mean? :?: Eventually, to our relief, he moved up and completed the pitch with greater fluency.

We descended easily to the Bealach nan Lice, then proceeded onto the narrowing neck of rock which leads to the ledge right under the Tooth. This neck in fact became very narrow indeed, and gave us a taste of the exposure to come. It was great to reach the ledge, which is oppressively dominated by the huge, overhanging prow of the Tooth. With rising levels of adrenaline we put on our harnesses and helmets, uncoiled the rope and tied on. Belayed by Karl on the ledge, I clambered down a few feet to the right to reach a narrow ledge-line leading out rightwards onto the face, which happily was in the sun. At the end of the ledge I fixed a belay - a sling over a good spike and a bomb-proof hex - and brought Karl across. Once he was in position at the belay, I set off up the main pitch of Naismith's. A straightforward crack with good holds led straight up to the left end of another narrow ledge. Making sure to fix a runner here, I traversed rightwards along the ledge to a shallow groove where the route either goes straight up, or continues rightwards to reach a wide crack. The problem with the latter option is that the placement of protection in the crack will create a very big dog-leg in the line of the rope, causing drag for the leader and massive pendulum potential for the second. So, I decided to go straight up. But now I could see what the problem had been for the leader we had watched beforehand. At just above head height was a light-coloured patch of newly exposed rock where a block had obviously fallen away quite recently. What remained was the fissured edge of a block which flexed when pressure was applied. So that ruled out its use either as a hold or as a runner. :problem: Fortunately, there was a small but positive hold just above it, which would enable a move to be made up to better holds. Even so, this would be a stiff move with sketchy footholds and without protection. If I fell off I would launch into a hideous pendulum and end up somewhere below Karl. :shock: So falling off wasn't an option! Feeling the precariousness of climbing in walking boots, I got my feet higher, then higher still, pulling up on the small hold, until the fingers of my other hand sank gratefully behind a nice big hold higher up and I could get my boots on some decent footholds. I then placed a sling over a nice big spike. Phew! :)

A good, wide crack led up and right, offering plenty of holds and protection but steepening to plumb vertical towards the top. I found a solid hex placement then moved up to reach the holds on the very top edge of the face. The key here is to get your feet high enough in the crack before swinging your right foot up over the edge then rocking over. Feeling somewhat elated, I placed a couple of nuts behind the ledge for the belay. :D Sitting right on the edge so I could see down to Karl, I relaxed as he followed up. He made good, steady progress, though I chided him when he landed on the top ledge like a beached whale (oops - he won't thank me for that!). :lol:

Skye June 2014 031.JPG
Karl following up Naismith's Route on the Bhasteir Tooth.

We coiled the ropes and scrambled easily up gently inclined slabs to the very apex of the Bhasteir Tooth, where some old slings remained for the Winter climbers who abseil down the overhanging prow on a north-south traverse. Then we went back down the slabs to the neck where the Tooth adjoins the main bulk of Am Bhasteir. A short, wide crack leads easily up to the right onto some ledges with scraps of grass.

Now the guidebook makes the way ahead from here sound awfully complicated, but in fact it is very straightforward. Look up to the left and you'll see a huge, easy-angled basalt slab covered in debris. It's bounded on it's right side by a broken corner/gully. Simply follow the corner/gully until it becomes easier to go onto the slabs which lead leftwards beneath the beetling brow of overhangs above. As you go left the slabs become a comfortably wide ledge leading beneath a little prow of gabbro right on the edge of the north face of Am Bhasteir. Stop at the right hand side of the prow, where you'll see a short corner/groove which is severely undercut at it's base. This is the way to the top, which lies a tantalizing 6 metres above. But this is in fact the most technically difficult 6 metres of the entire Cuillin ridge! The SMC guidebook gives it a rating of 5b - that's if you actually climb it without standing on someone else's head. The traditional way to tackle it is for the leader to stand, if not on his second's head, then at least on his shoulders - what they call 'combined tactics'. However, Karl wasn't too keen on the idea of having my boots scraping about all over his head and shoulders, and in any case, I rather fancied trying to actually climb it. :crazy:

So, we took off our rucksacks, uncoiled the rope, and I placed a small hex in the thin crack above as high as I could get it from the safety of the ledge. That would at least stop me from flying off the ledge if I came off. I found a hold of sorts for my right hand on the lip of the overhang and got my feet on something underneath it, bridging out left and right, then reached up with my left hand for an insecure finger-jam in the crack above the hex. I moved my feet a bit higher under the overhang, then made a hard move for a prominent handhold up to the right. It was indeed a good hold, thankfully. Then it was just a matter of swinging my right foot high up onto the hold on the lip of the overhang, and standing up into a bridging position across the corner. Phew! The top was just above my head with only a few easy moves to go. I stood there for a moment just savouring the sense of triumph. Done it! :D I pulled the rucksacks up and belayed Karl. He made a valiant effort but was happy to admit defeat, so I lowered down a chain of slings for him to climb up - even that wasn't easy!

The cairn on the summit of Am Bhasteir was literally a few yards away. Ropes coiled, rucksacks on, and we were there. The views were spectacular. Boy, that was a summit hard won!

Skye June 2014 033.JPG
Sgurr nan Gillean from Am Bhasteir

Skye June 2014 036.JPG
Looking back to Sgurr a' Fionn Choire and Bruach na Frithe, from Am Bhasteir.

Skye June 2014 038.JPG
Looking south from Am Bhasteir

We enjoyed the airy descent down the east ridge, with its exposed little step, to the Bealach a' Bhasteir. Then we moseyed along to the foot of the chimney which gives access to the West Ridge of Sgurr nan Gillean. A party were abseiling down the gully to the left, a tactic which avoids the exposed pinnacles when descending from Gillean. We roped up for the chimney and at its top we coiled the rope up for the last time. The pinnacles were next and I had forgotten just how exposed they are. I felt a bit guilty about not remaining roped for Karl's sake, but he had no trouble with them and we were soon on easier ground. It was an easy though still steep scramble to the summit of Sgurr nan Gillean.

Skye June 2014 039.JPG
Sgurr na h-Uamha from the West Ridge of Sgurr nan Gillean.

Skye June 2014 040.JPG
Am Bhasteir and Bruach na Frithe from the West Ridge of Sgurr nan Gillean.

Skye June 2014 043.JPG
Looking up the West Ridge of Sgurr nan Gillean from above the pinnacles.

Here we removed our harnesses and helmets, took in the fantastic views all around and sat down on our airy perch for a food break. We reflected on how we would have been feeling had this moment marked the end of a complete traverse of the ridge. Of course we would have been ecstatic; but we knew, deep down, that it was unlikely we would have made it this far. We were tired enough as it was! But we were still very satisfied with our day. :D

Skye June 2014 046.JPG
Blaven from the summit of Sgurr nan Gillean

So began the long descent back to Sligachan. At the bottom of the scrambling on the South-East Ridge we met some walkers on their way up. They saw us come down an easy little rock step and seemed relieved that they now knew which way to go. They asked us if the scrambling got any harder higher up; they were obviously rather unsure of themselves. Without wishing to discourage them, we told it how it was: the scrambling gets increasingly difficult and exposed the higher you get, but is within the capabilities of walkers with a bit of scrambling experience. They asked us which way we'd come from. We just said we came over by the West ridge. We didn't bother to mention the Bhasteir Tooth. :wink: Thus we parted company, the others continuing hesitantly upwards, ourselves wearily downwards over the unremittingly rough terrain. We hoped they made it to the summit of Gillean - and back again!

Skye June 2014 048.JPG
Looking back to Sgurr nan Gillean from Coire Riabhach

The rough path back to Sligachan seemed to go on forever. We were looking forward to a few Talisker whiskies in the hotel bar. We would raise our glasses to all those hardy and determined souls who have achieved a complete traverse of the Cuillin Ridge. For that is, in the words of the SMC climber's guide, 'the toughest mountaineering challenge in the British Isles'.
Last edited by dav2930 on Sat Apr 08, 2017 7:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Cuillin Northern Three

Postby Mal Grey » Tue May 26, 2015 11:02 pm

Fantastic tale, well told. What an amazing range the Cuillin are.

A long time since I did these, thanks for bringing back the memory, especially of the awkward corner.
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Re: Cuillin Northern Three

Postby Mountainlove » Wed May 27, 2015 3:45 pm

Thanks for the story and a great tale to tell it was. Will need to do some planning for some of the Cullin Munros soon and your report will help :clap: :clap:
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Re: Cuillin Northern Three

Postby dav2930 » Wed May 27, 2015 7:21 pm

Mal Grey wrote:Fantastic tale, well told. What an amazing range the Cuillin are.

A long time since I did these, thanks for bringing back the memory, especially of the awkward corner.


Cheers! - glad it sparked some memories. The Cuillin are indeed an amazing range - quite unique in the British Isles I think.
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Re: Cuillin Northern Three

Postby dav2930 » Wed May 27, 2015 7:27 pm

Mountainlove wrote:Thanks for the story and a great tale to tell it was. Will need to do some planning for some of the Cullin Munros soon and your report will help :clap: :clap:


You're most welcome. Glad to be of help with your planning!
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Re: Cuillin Northern Three

Postby simon-b » Wed May 27, 2015 10:15 pm

Spectacular stuff, Dav. It looks like you had excellent conditions for this! About 11 months later it was much rougher up there, with plenty of lying snow still around. So although we had these three planned, we could only manage Bruach na Frithe, even with a guide. Your photos have got me looking forward to going back to get the other two.

Great report of a real adventure you had.
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Re: Cuillin Northern Three

Postby dav2930 » Wed May 27, 2015 10:43 pm

simon-b wrote:Spectacular stuff, Dav. It looks like you had excellent conditions for this! About 11 months later it was much rougher up there, with plenty of lying snow still around. So although we had these three planned, we could only manage Bruach na Frithe, even with a guide. Your photos have got me looking forward to going back to get the other two.

Great report of a real adventure you had.


Thanks Simon. Yes weather conditions are crucial in the Cuillin and we were very lucky on this occasion. We wouldn't have attempted this in rough conditions. With hindsight we could have made a bid for the complete traverse, but it was still one of our best trips last year. Hope you get to do Am Basteir & Gillean, they're well worth it!
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Re: Cuillin Northern Three

Postby Alteknacker » Sat Jun 06, 2015 12:05 am

Great report, and some equally great pics!

I'm planning - weather permitting - to do the ridge this year, so a couple of questions....

I've done the ridge a couple of times, but chickened out of Naismith's Route each time - it just looked a fraction too exposed!!! However, the last time a couple of guys were just doing it as I got to the bottom of the tooth, and I met up with them as they completed and I came up via the Lotta Corrie route. I asked them how technically difficult it was, and they seemed to think it was pretty straightforward (I seem to recall the guy who had led said he'd stopped bothering with belays about half way up). I also keep thinking that the runners do it solo. What's your view? Are the foot and hand holds reasonably big? And secure? (I didn't like the bit about the wobbling block one little bit :shock: ). From your close-up pics, there look to be reasonably decent (= not finger tip/toe end) holds - but then I remember planning the route up the TD Gap based on photos, and finding it was nothing like what I imagined, once I got there :( .

Ref the overhang to get up on to Am Basteir: is this really the only way up? I vaguely recall seeing such an overhang, but I think I took a route up about 10 metres to the right of it (if I remember correctly), which was probably a grade 2/3 scramble of about 10 metres on inclined rock; and the 2 guys I'd bumped into on the Tooth also took the same route. I'm just wondering if my memory's playing tricks (it matters a bit more this time because I'm taking someone else this time :crazy: ). Any tips gratefully received :) .
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Re: Cuillin Northern Three

Postby dav2930 » Sat Jun 06, 2015 11:29 pm

Alteknacker wrote:Great report, and some equally great pics!

I'm planning - weather permitting - to do the ridge this year, so a couple of questions....

I've done the ridge a couple of times, but chickened out of Naismith's Route each time - it just looked a fraction too exposed!!! However, the last time a couple of guys were just doing it as I got to the bottom of the tooth, and I met up with them as they completed and I came up via the Lotta Corrie route. I asked them how technically difficult it was, and they seemed to think it was pretty straightforward (I seem to recall the guy who had led said he'd stopped bothering with belays about half way up). I also keep thinking that the runners do it solo. What's your view? Are the foot and hand holds reasonably big? And secure? (I didn't like the bit about the wobbling block one little bit :shock: ). From your close-up pics, there look to be reasonably decent (= not finger tip/toe end) holds - but then I remember planning the route up the TD Gap based on photos, and finding it was nothing like what I imagined, once I got there :( .

Ref the overhang to get up on to Am Basteir: is this really the only way up? I vaguely recall seeing such an overhang, but I think I took a route up about 10 metres to the right of it (if I remember correctly), which was probably a grade 2/3 scramble of about 10 metres on inclined rock; and the 2 guys I'd bumped into on the Tooth also took the same route. I'm just wondering if my memory's playing tricks (it matters a bit more this time because I'm taking someone else this time :crazy: ). Any tips gratefully received :) .


Hi there and thanks. Good questions those.

1.Naismith's Route.
Traditionally this is graded VDiff though the 2011 SMC guide has upgraded it to Severe. I think the upgrading takes account of climbing it in boots and sacks and near the end of a complete traverse, when it would certainly feel more than VDiff. Generally the climb is well supplied with big holds and good protection, though the recently missing block makes the crux move both harder and bolder. It's now probably better at this point to traverse further right into the wide crack - big pendulum potential for the second but safer and easier for the leader. I've done quite a lot of solo climbing in my time, but I wouldn't fancy soloing Naismith's - at least not in boots. It's steep, sustained and very exposed. You'd have to be very confident indeed to try that! Bear in mind that photos can be misleading due to foreshortening.

You don't mention how experienced your friend is. If he/she is happy seconding VDiff and preferably Severe then you should be fine. But I wouldn't recommend this as a first climb!

2.The overhang on to Am Basteir.
Yes there are alternatives to the right of 6m corner. The SMC guide mentions an 8m pitch immediately left of the cave with a technical grade of 4b. So that's a lot easier than the 6m corner, but it's described as 'bold' - so there's probably not much pro. The guide also mentions some grooves on the right wall of the gully below the cave which give a 25m pitch at 4a (about Severe). I'd say the easiest and safest bet is to tackle the 6m corner either by combined tactics or by pulling on/standing in slings. The crack will take good gear, there's a big ledge underneath and it's only a few moves. Or if you're feeling on form just go for the technical tick!

Hope this helps - though there's no substitute for just getting up there and giving it a try! Good luck and I'm sure you'll love Naismith's.

Also, many congrats on doing the traverse twice! :clap: That's quite something, even without Naismith's. 8) Cheers. :D

PS I've just realized the grade 2/3 scrambling route you mention is probably the Lota Coire Route, which follows ledges out onto the south face from the nick behind the Basteir Tooth. That'll be the easiest way from BT to the summit of Am Basteir (but less direct and less fun).
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Re: Cuillin Northern Three

Postby Alteknacker » Sat Jun 20, 2015 11:13 pm

dav2930 wrote:
.....Hope this helps - though there's no substitute for just getting up there and giving it a try! Good luck and I'm sure you'll love Naismith's.

Also, many congrats on doing the traverse twice! :clap: That's quite something, even without Naismith's. 8) Cheers. :D

PS I've just realized the grade 2/3 scrambling route you mention is probably the Lota Coire Route, which follows ledges out onto the south face from the nick behind the Basteir Tooth. That'll be the easiest way from BT to the summit of Am Basteir (but less direct and less fun).


Many thanks for the tips. I'll probably give Naismith's Route a miss again - my companion is OK with scrambling, but not so keen on climbing. As you say, it also looks quite daunting at the end of a long day.

I didn't explain the grade 2/3 scrambling route very well: what I meant was, that I took the Lota Corrie route up to the tooth, but in order to get on to Am Basteir, instead of doing the overhang, I climbed up a rock face starting about 10 metres to the right of the overhang (if i remember correctly). The 2 climbers did the same. It's a bit exposed, but plenty of solid hand and foot holds. I've been trying to find some pics of the area, but not managed to yet.

I've also been trying to find pics of the "bad step" area. I keep reading about this, but I have no recollection of anything particularly difficult between Am Basteir and Sgurr nan Gillean. It may well have been that the adrenaline erased the all bad memories of hanging on for dear life!!!

Whatever we find though, I know it will be brilliant.

Thanks again for the detailed tips. :)
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Re: Cuillin Northern Three

Postby dav2930 » Sun Jun 21, 2015 7:25 pm

You're welcome Altenacker. Well if you're right about the scramble to the right of 'the overhang' then it's scandalous that the guidebooks, including Dan Bailey's, fail to mention it. Though I do wonder if we're talking about the same overhang. The one in my account - the 6m undercut corner - is at the top left edge of the west face of Am Basteir, just right of a prow on the brink of the north face.

As for the 'bad step' on the east ridge of Am Basteir, I'm not surprised you didn't notice it. It's a pretty insignificant step in the ridge that you climb up when descending (if that makes any sense!). It's exposed but short (about 10ft) and easy.

Good luck with your 3rd traverse! I really must make an effort to do the whole thing before long. BTW will you be bivviing somewhere or are you going from sea level to sea level in one day?
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Re: Cuillin Northern Three

Postby Alteknacker » Sun Jun 21, 2015 10:49 pm

dav2930 wrote:...Good luck with your 3rd traverse! I really must make an effort to do the whole thing before long. BTW will you be bivviing somewhere or are you going from sea level to sea level in one day?


The first time I camped in Coire Grundha, starting early the next day and finishing at Sligachan; the second time I bivvied on top of Sgurr nan Eag (and experienced the most wonderful dawn ever!!!), and again finished at Sligachan. It's obviously a bit of a trade off between lugging huge amounts of gear over 2 days, or going light and quick. I've had the great good fortune to have wonderful sunny weather on both occasions so far, but the down side is that you need at least 4 litres of water (or to make the detours down to the springs). Most people I met said the same thing: too much food, too little water!! :( . I took 4 litres both times, and was still severely dehydrated at the end (I drank a further 4 litres on the way down from nan Gillean).

This time I'm doing it with my brother, and the plan is just to take it as it comes. We'll probably start at Glen Brittle, and see how far we get. The main issue will be transport, as we'll only have one car. The first time I did it, my son did the honours, meeting me at Sligachan; the second time I left the car at Sligachan and hitched a lift to Glen Brittle. We haven't decided what we'll do this time.

On both occasions I met people who'd started at Glen Brittle campsite at between 3.00am and 6.00am and finished the same day (for example, the 2 climbers I spoke to about Naismith's Route); so I'm quite sure it's reasonably doable, particularly if you don't feel the need for roping up. I first met the 2 climbers right at the beginning, and they generally moved much faster than I over open ground, but I always gained on them because I was solo. The speed factor is one of the big attractions of scrambling for me :D . Climbing always seems to take forever to get not very far (you can get a bit anally retentive when you live a long way from the great places... :problem: ).

Thanks again.

AK
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