Posts tagged Cuillin Ridge Traverse
Strength and conditioning in the mountains

Alan wrapped up warm on a very cold day

Unfortunately no scientific research has gone on here, just the classic 'the best way to train for the mountains is to go to the mountains'.  That's the approach I take and also the approach Alan takes and at 72...it seems to be working ok. 

So we have had a good couple of days.  The aim is to get a bit of practice and fitness in for an upcoming Cuillin Ridge traverse attempt.  Possibly a 'one dayer' but with recent illness Alan has lost a wee bit of stamina.  Still a few weeks to go so we shall see.

Best way to tackle this in the winds we were experiencing

Balancy climbing on Crowberry Ridge

A welcome ledge in prep for some airy climbing

So we headed up North Buttress on Stob Ban (Grade III) for a bit of shelter from the very cold wind.  With fresh snow on the tops it was a bit of a 'hoods up and go'.  Wind was howling over the tops and as it was Alan first day out for a while, and not wanting to over do it, we headed down the North ridge.

Focused

After the weekend we teamed up again and the sun was shining and the breeze was light.  We basked in the sun on Crowberry Ridge, surmounted the Tower and during our lunch break we opted for a descent of Curved Ridge to get used to scrambling down again.  Alan certainly is capable of a moving well over the Cuillin Ridge so looking forward to making an attempt with him.

Great exposure on a brilliant route

Skye peaks and rock
Andy standing back as Ryan gets to grips with the damp rock

It feel like my spring time on Skye has come to an end very quickly.  I think it has just passed in a blink of an eye in the amazing weather we had in the last couple of weeks.  This weekend has marked the last Skye work for me this season and it was great to finish it working with Andy and his colleague Ryan.

Andy trying to push over boulders
Andy sharing his extensive knowledge of the local area....mist, mist and more mist
Ryan has recently jumped on the Munro bandwagon and as he has no climbing experience, he was keen for some able hands to take him up.  Andy, who has completed the munro's twice, was keen to come along for a day out and follow it up with a day climbing at Elgol.

Chilling on a ledge on the Inn Pinn waiting for the team ahead
Summit, ready for abseiling
The weather was poor on Saturday but we made our way into the Cuillin and ascended Sgurr Mhiccoinnich, which was Ryan's first Cuillin peak.  We followed this up with an ascent of the In Pinn, nipping in between two groups.  With very limited vis and starting to get a little wet, we decided enough was enough and saved the other peaks for another day.

Andy cruising Jamie Jampot
Ryan couldn't join Andy and I on our second day.  Andy and I chose to have a day at Elgol and get some routes in before the rain came.  Andy was super keen for leading so it was a day where he did more leading than me...which never happens....maybe I should be paying him!?  He did a great job guiding me up Jamie Jampot (VS 4c), I then led us up PickPocket (E15b) and then Andy did a brilliant lead on Hairy Mary (HVS 4b), a route which has been on his radar for quite a while.  A top effort by Andy and great for him to get it ticked off.  Unfortunately the rain set in and we called it a day but all in all, a good couple of days.  Cheers fellas!
Andy cruising Hairy Mary

A brilliant route, a must do at Elgol

Happy with his lead...first climbing day of the summer for Andy.
Cioch Nose, Cuillin Ridge Traverse, Tower Ridge, Castle Ridge and more
Sean on the Cioch Nose on Day 1
 I'm sure you're all up to speed with how brilliant the weather has been in the highlands.  Sean, who is up for 8 days of climbing in Scotland, timed it perfectly.  Kicked off with a sunny ascent of the Cioch Nose (VD)**** in Applecross.  A superb way to start the week and get his head back into big boot climbing.
With the forecast we decided to get stuck into our Cuillin Ridge Traverse (VD)**** right away.  We teamed up with my good friend Andy and his client for a sociable traverse and a great bivi.  We opted for the boat in from Elgol and Sean and I climbed all the Munro's on the main ridgeline as well as all the technical climbs except Naismith's on Am Basteir.  Success all round and a great stint in the North-West.

Andy, Ali and Sean at the 1st Munro of the ridge
Andy on the Inaccessible Pinnacle
Late evening before the bivi, a great time to be scrambling
After a day off to rest and recover from the Cuillin Ridge, we continued our 8 day stint on the West Coast based in Lochaber.
Our first day we started off on Tower Ridge (D)**** which we shared with Max and his clients.  From the summit we descended Ledge Route (Grade 2)**** ticking off two of the classic Ben Nevis Ridges.  I wonder when we will complete them all?
For a change of scenery, Sean and I headed to Glencoe for some more scrambling.  As the weather was a little mixed we opted for scrambling rather than climbing, Agag's can wait.  Instead we climbed up Broad Buttress (Grade 3)*** and descended Great Gully Buttress (grade 1/2)* for a nice round of continuous scrambling and an opportunity for Sean to do a spot of leading.

Sean seeking for the best holds
Happy as Larry (whoever Larry is?)
 With all the good weather we have had, it had to come to an end.  Sean was sold on the idea of trying ice climbing so we headed to the Ice Factor for the day for refrigerated climbing and also some rock climbing coaching to help improve Seans technique for when we climb outside.  As always in there, a day fueled by coffee and cake and enough climbing to make your arms feel like soggy, rolled up newspapers.
Always smiles when it's dry
For our final day we opted for a slightly shorter day and another classic Ben Nevis ridge.  Castle Ridge (Grade 3)*** was a good choice as it's a shorter route and Sean wasn't keen to prolong the soaking we were due as the weather came in.  Fortunately, we were through all the technical climbing before the heavens opened and as they did we opted for a quick and easy descent down the tourist route.

Sean getting techy

Brace yourself....this hill is about to get very wet!
A very successful week for Sean with the highlight being the Cuillin Ridge in great style.  With a busy summer ahead, it is great to kick off with some great weather, good company and some great climbing.  Two more Ben Nevis Ridges to do.  Right, time to have a couple of days off.

Skye Delight
Brian getting to grip on day 1
Looking towards our next objective
After a mixed season of winter climbing and skiing, this week has been a dream come true.  I have been based up in Lochcarron heading things up for Moran Mountain as Martin is away in the Himalayas.  I was teamed up with Brian who was hungry for a Cuillin Ridge traverse as his attempt 2 years ago was thwarted by foul weather.  His luck came in tenfold this week.
Mighty fine
Brian and his ascent route
Our first day was a training day, an opportunity to practice the crucial skills for the Ridge so we climbed Pinnacle Ridges and traversed over Am Basteir and abseiled down the tooth.  Everything was bone dry, the views were far and wide and this was the 'worst weather' of the week!

Day two we had a slightly restful day rock climbing in Applecross before an evening of lectures and packing before we headed back to Skye.

Day 3+4 we made our traverse.

And we are off!

Moving well over the Southern End
Into the mid section.  TD Gap and In Pinn done.



Another hour to go!

Perfect ridge scrambling

Mint evening

The view from the bivi after I had done my water run
Brian feeling 'awesome'.  The overused word that we used now and again.

  We walked up from Glen Brittle and agreed that we wanted to do all the Munro's and all the technical sections of the ridge,  have a big first day and a shorter second day in tie for lunch and beers at the Slig.  Our first day was 11 hours in which we arrived at Bealach na Glaic Moire for a stunning sunset and a brilliant bivi.  An early start saw us on our final Munro, Sgurr nan Gillean at 1pm before we ran down to the pub for 3 well earned pints.
Evening sunset
Day 2 objective

Scotland is special

Top of Am Bastier i think...

Done and dusted!  Well done Brian!  

Our final day of the course we teamed up with Jeannie who was on the rock climbing course.  We all climbed at Stone Valley crag on immaculate gneiss.  It was a good rest for the legs and a good opportunity for Brian to see what all the fuss with rock climbing is all about.
Jeannie on the sharp end

Jeannie cruising some 3 star classics

Brian in the zone

Brian trying hard

Jeannie seconding the HVS

Superb week with great company and a pleasure to be working with a great team - Robin and Kev for Moran Mountain.
Excellent summer or luck of the draw?
The start of another successful Cuillin Ridge Traverse
Two is the magic number. In this occasion, two is the amount of times I have put on my waterproofs whilst at work since April.  And I have been working in Scotland and Wales.  First time was half a day in Snowdonia and the second was for half an hour on the ascent to the start of the Aonach Eagach.  Now this is not to say it hasn't been raining, it has, I have managed to avoid it.  Being at the right place at the right time. Unfortunately, this next week should see my waterproof usage double if not treble!

Father and son James and John put in a great performance...
...and provided some great whiskey
 To kick off I had a successful traverse with John and James, the hardest part was finding water for our bivi.  I ended having to drop off 300m and carry 10 litres back up hill.  The weather turned the following day from clear and humid to cloudy and humid but we still made it.  James was keen for a third day so we went and made a quick ascent of the Cioch.
Highlander moment coming soon
Is a cow a suitable navigation feature?
 Between other spells of work and days off, I have been working with SSE.  Their request was some navigation training which included evening theory sessions and practical hill days.  Over the course I worked with 20 folk with different roles within the company, all with the common likely hood that they may have to walk over the lowland hills in Scotland.
A nice change from the big hills
Usual Scottish conditions on the Great Ridge
 As the weather has been quite good it was nice to go out with regular Grahame.  He is keen for adventurous hills and happy to move away from his usual munro bagging routes.  So with his two gift vouchers he needed to redeem, we took the short ride over the Corran ferry over to Ardgour to climb the Great Ridge on Gars Bheinn.  It was a fantastic climb on beautiful Gneiss, a must for any who haven't ventured here.  The rock climbing here is amazing.  We then ventured down into Glenfinnan, more rain dodging and more fantastic scrambling in a very peaceful location, only the noise of the steam train broke the tranquility

Big smiles down Glenfinnan
I have also managed to squeeze in some personal rock climbing into this time with a couple of hits down in Glen Nevis, a day climbing with the legend John Lyall at Creag Dubh and a Tunnel Wall session with Blair.  With many damp evenings I have also made use of the brilliant new climbing wall in Fort William, The 3 Wise Monkeys.
Andy enjoying some great after work conditions
Brain and Martin trying to decide if this was a good idea!
 Ossian's Cave.  If you have ever driven through Glencoe you will have seen it, high on the hillside, a tall, dark, damp slot carved out of the North Face of Aonach Dubh.  Martin had this idea bubbling over the fire for years and we organised a day out to put it to bed.  Martin brought Brian along and between them, did a great job where they both dug deep.  Given that neither of them have a great deal of experiance in the hills it was always gonig to be a tough objective and initially we saw it as a training day rather than to get into the cave.  But with plenty of coaching we all made it to the base of the cave and I made it right inside but climbing into the cave was a few moves too far for them.  We already have plans in place for a rematch next year so I hope we have some more nice weather.  It felt great to climb the first ever recorded route in Glencoe

In the cave!!

Realisation that the hills in Glencoe are not a walk in the park!
The following day I was straight out for another Glencoe classic.  The Aonach Eagach.  This was with some members from the Connersville Walking Club.  With 8 signed up for the ridge I enrolled Andy Hogarth, to help guide them along.  We were also assisted by Andy Hauge, a MIA-trainee looking for some experience, who helped out making our life a lot easier.
Cloudy but dry
Andy organising a wee descent
 After the Aonach Eagach, only 3 were keen for the final day on Curved Ridge.  Again we were lucky and made a really nice ascent to meet the rest of the club on the summit.  It was nice to see a few other teams out and about.  Shame about the ropes hanging off Rannoch Wall.  Looks a bit of a mess!

Andrew, Alan and Sean
Getting to grips with it all now
So after a great few weeks in the hills I can look forward to more adventures.  A week on Skye, a two week boat trip out to the Western Isles and St. Kilda, 23 days in India then off to Snowdonia to prepare for one of the many assessments I have to pass to become a British Mountain Guide.  Eeek it will be winter soon!?
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
Cuillin Ridge Traverse
Rib into Loch Caruisk
Just back from another successful traverse on the Cuillin Ridge.  I was out with Dr Will and Dr Pete who were both very handy mountaineers.  This allowed for a rapid traverse, including all the hard climbing sections (TD Gap, Kings Chimney, An Stac, In Pinn, BDnR and Naismith's Route.  The weather was perfect, the mountains were surprisingly quiet and Pete even got some leading in along the way.  One highlight was the swim at the end of the day.
TD Gap



Pete leading up the In Pinn


Evening views

The bivi

Pete getting cosy

Early morning light


Nearly there

Summit on Sgurr nan Gillian, another success.

Removing blood, sweat and sun cream.