Our first glimpse of Skye was at dusk from the mainland, the cuillins
glowing a magnificent red in the fading light. We arrived at the
bunkhouse at about 10pm, just in time to plan our Saturday and to hear
the stories from those who had already spent a day on the ridge. The
three closest munros, Bruach na Frithe, Am Basteir and Sgurr nan
Gillean, proved to be an overwhelmingly popular choice, with only Pete
making alternative plans for the day.
We left the bunkhouse just before
9am the next morning, meeting the campers on our way. The sun was
shining and the sky completely clear as we crossed the glen towards the
ascent to Bruach na Frithe. The route was straightforward, and once we
reached the top we were rewarded with a stunning panoramic view of the
cuillins range. We spent a little time taking photos and enjoying the
scenery before moving on to conquer Am Basteir. At this point Louise and
Steve left us to spend an afternoon swimming in fairy pools, however
Richard and Craig had caught up with us on the summit, so we maintained
We all reached the summit of Am Basteir, navigating a tricky
down climb with ease once Jim had set up a rope and with Simon’s
guidance. I was absolutely loving my first day on the ridge, so when we
had to make the decision about whether to continue, I didn’t hesitate!
Team Sgurr nan Gillean (Jim, Simon, Andrew, Berenice, Bruce, Dom, Amy
and Myself) set off for the next peak, with the rest of the group
heading back to the pub for a well earnt pint. It took some time to
decide on the best course up to the summit, with the closer chimney
offering an easier climb, but the other taking us to safer point on the
ridge. Under Jim’s guidance we opted for the latter, with a solo climb
expertly executed by Simon securing the rope to bring us all up. Jim was
next up, then set up another rope. The climb up was certainly not as
easy to the rest of us as Simon and Jim had made it look . . . !
all up on the ridge we were just a scramble away from our third munro of
the day, and Berenice’s 200th! We celebrated at the top with Simon’s
malteaser tiffin, and wondered how Paul and Dave were getting on with
the full ridge challenge, trying to see if we could spot them. The way
down was difficult to navigate at first, and after a long scramble we
reached the glen, and eventually the bunkhouse. We returned to a
delicious dinner of spag bol and veggie lasagne, courtesy of Mhairi and
Bruce. Although late, we were not the latest: we were still waiting for
Paul and Dave to return from the ridge. Eventually, Paul, then Dave,
returned to a round of applause. After dinner we enjoyed cake, wine and
whiskey whilst talking about plans for the next day.
weather still so perfect, we were keen to make the most of the day on
Sunday. I joined Berenice, Andrew, Mhairi, Ila and Chimed to bag Sgurr a
Mhadaidh and Sgurr a Ghreadaidh via An Dorus. The day started with a
hard slog across the glen whilst my tired legs warmed up, but I I’d
feel better once I got up to the ridge again! Finally up at An Dorus, I
felt the fear a bit as I looked through the doorway and saw the drop on
the other side . . . We tackled Sgurr a Mhadaidh first, glancing over
at Sgurr a Ghreadaidh as we had lunch on the summit, wondering if the
steep ascent would make for too difficult a down climb. However,
Berenice and Mhairi’s enthusiasm convinced us to continue, and I was
very glad we did. The following scramble was enjoyable, and the views
from the summit spectacular.
As we left Skye that evening, I was
dreaming of the day I’d be back to tackle the rest of the ridge.
With a forecast of glorious sunshine for the Friday as well as the weekend a number of people headed up early to get various things done on Friday. People slowly drifted into the bunkhouse at Sligachan quite late by everyone arrived. With others staying in the campsite and bivying high on the Cuillin ridge for a two day traverse.
Saturday saw sun as promised and after slowly rounding everyone up a party of 18 headed to Bruach na Frithe. Rather overwhelming the few other people present at the summit. Carrying on along the ridge to Am Basteir the numbers were slightly reduced to 16. Getting the rope out to pass the bad step certainly took a while with that number. A few hours and much faffing later it was decision time at the bealach between Am Basteir and Sgurr nan Gillean. The promise of a slightly longer stretch of climbing to continue or an early return to the pub and bunkhouse for food reduced the numbers to a more manageable 8 ascending Sgurr nan Gillean. Simon Li was on hand to lead the climbing pitch route then Jim set up a second rope so we could climb two at once and manage the 30m assent in under 2 hours.
From the summit we caught a glimpse of Dave and Paul still coming along the ridge on their traverse. As it was getting late we pushed on for a long descent and walk out back to the hut. Handily the earlier back party had started cooking so we could quickly shower and eat tea. Just as we were finishing Paul wandered in through the door looking very tired and having sore hands, Dave was nowhere to be seen having been abandoned on the walk out. He appeared half an hour or so later looking even more tired.
Sunday saw the group disperse in a more usual fashion and we had groups of several different Cuillin peaks as well as people taking it easier on the way home. All in all a great weekend. Thanks everyone.