Saturday, 6 October 2012

Mixed weather on the Skye Ridge

Over the last two days I made another successful traverse and this time I was accompanied by John.  We had very mixed conditions over the two days which made it very challenging and for many teams they would have called it a day.  I think the reason why we succeeded was down to the preparation we made together over the last 4 days.  We spent 2 days mountaineering in the rain on North Buttress and Tower Ridge, we spent a day inside working on rock climbing technique and a day getting mileage on the crag.  Put all this together and you have a recipe for success.  So we opted for a South to North traverse and started on Sgurr nan Eag at 10.30 am, with what looked like promising conditions.  There was plenty or rain throughout the night which left the TD Gap very wet so instead we opted for the bypass just to save time, climbing the TD Gap in anything other than dry conditions is very unpleasant   So from Sgurr Alasdair we descended down to the base of King Chimney's (VD) and climbed this to reach the summit of Sgurr Mhic Choinnich.  From here we made our way round to the Inn Pinn and made a very quick ascent and descent before heading onto Sgurr na Banachdich.  From here we went over Sgurr a Ghreadaidh and Sgurr a Mhadaidh and bivied at Bealach na Glaic Moire after arriving at 5pm.  At 5.30pm the rain came too!  It rained through the night and the cloud set in but fortunately a bottle of whiskey helped us sleep through it.  In the morning I thought I had gone blind with a hangover but actually it was just 10 metre visibility thanks to the cloud.  A challenging day ahead.  So we set of at 8am, made our way around Bidean Druim na Ramh, over An Caisteal and onto Bruach na Frithe.  As it was still, wet, cold and greasy I decided we wouldn't climb direct onto Am Bastier to so we traversed around the north side and climbed up the East ridge before retuning the same way to ascend Sgurr nan Gillian.  For the first time today the clouds cleared and we got a full view of the ridge.  We stood on the top at 11am which meant a traverse time (summit to summit) of 10.5 hours.  We descended down the South East ridge back to Sligachan for a feast, some beer and a limited edition Talisker.  What a fantastic week with a great finale!

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