Friday, 17 July 2015

The perfect traverse - Cuillin Ridge - Isle of Skye

The Start - The dream team - Me, Austin, Ruairidh, Linda and Alan.  The ridge behind
Our transport leaving as we head up the hill
The scrambling begins
You may have seen from reading my account of this season on Skye, infact in Scotland, has been vastly wet with below average temperatures.  We have been denied any long spells of sunny settled weather, only a couple of days have been worthy of washing on the line.  This has lead to a very wet season of work for me which doesn't only dampen clothing but also dampen spirits a wee bit.  I have always believed that one nice day in the mountains on the Isle of Skye make up for multiple wet, cold and cloudy days, the days where we have hoods up and heads down.

Austin making light work of King's Chimney
I am just back down from 3 fantastic days on Skye, where we finished by completing a brilliant 2 day traverse in 21 hours of mind blowing walking, scrambling and climbing.  With a perfect forecast we opted for the start from the boat shuttle (Aquaxplore) from Elgol, the finest way to start a traverse. We endured the 2 hour ascent upto Gars-bheinn and made our way to the first Munro of Sgurr nan Eag.  Our team was a well organised affair, I was the guide, our head of base camp, transport, nutrition, bag packing and well wishes was Linda, Alan was the brains behind the expedition and was looking to complete the traverse, a dream of his for over 20 years.  We also had Austin (Linda and Alan's son) and Ruairidh (good friend of the whole family) to join the party on the ridge.  Our only blow was Alan was feeling unwell and gallantly removed himself from the equation, we proceeded as a team of three rather than four.

No prizes for those who guess which peak this is!

T is for Traverse, TD, Tipple, Top and TENNENTS!! Thank you!
Our first day we stashed some food, water and over night equipment by Sgurr na Banachdich allowing a comfortable, light opening day on the traverse.  R, A and I had agreed that we would asvend all the Munro's, climb all the tricky climbs and seek out the best bits of scrambling.  So after Sgurr Dubh Mor we made our way through the Thearlaich Dubh (TD) Gap, a good awakening after two of the easier summits.  We had Bill and Colin up ahead who made light work of the Dubh's Ridge and the TD gap, always great not to get held up here.  We pressed on, Sgurr Alasdair, Sgurr Thealaich, King's chimney onto Sgurr MhicChoinnich, up An Stac and onto the Inaccessible Pinnacle.  A patch of mist descended on us as we ascended the In Pinn, I believe R and A were quite pleased of this.  We proceeded onto the bivi site, arriving at 6pm to a great surprise.  As Alan had decided to pull out of the traverse, he and Linda walked up to remove his bivi kit, in its place were some extra sandwiches and 3 cans of Tennent's!  Winner!  A wee treat for completing day 1!  We ate and drank like king's that night, and as we felt so good we decided to build some stone shelters to sleep in.

Porridge and hot chocolate kick started day two at 4am.  We started moving at 5am hitting Sgurr a' Ghreadaidh and Sgurr a' Mhadaidh as the sun gave a gentle warming.  The rock was still dry and rough and the temperature was perfect.  Exposure was amplified this early in the morning.  We cruised along the tricky section between the Munro's, the 3 tops of Mhadaidh, Bidein Druim nan Ramh and An Caisteal before making our way onto Bruach na Frithe at midday.  Two Munro's to go.  Both were ascended without any problems in great weather leaving up with fantastic views of the whole ridge, a huge undertaking for Austin and Ruairidh, both have agreed it was physically and mentally the hardest days they have endured in the mountains.  We were greeted by a warm welcome and a cold beer from Linda and Alan at the Sligachan, the best way to finish a Cuillin Ridge traverse.  A brilliant 3 days with great company, good laughs and completing the best two mountains days one can have in the UK.  Thank you Linda, Alan, Austin and Ruridihdihdihdih! ;)

Yawnn...who ordered exposure for breakfast?

A nice day dawning

Half asleep so a the rope goes on

Should we of shouldn't we?  Direct of indirect?
Happy days, traverse complete.  True gentlemen!
One last abseil
Finished!  Well done chaps

No comments: