Skye and Loch Quoich

I’m just back from two excellent days on Skye with Jonathan and Julia. I was based in the very good and friendly Skye Basecamp Hostel. On the way back today I took the opportunity to nip up Gairich on the south side of Loch Quoich.

Jonathan near the summit of The Inn Pinn.

On Friday Jonathan, Julia and I headed up in to Coire na Banachdich and on up Sgurr Dearg with Jonathan and I taking in The Inaccessible Pinnacle via it’s East Ridge. We then completed a circuit of the coire by scrambling up the South Ridge of Sgurr na Banachdaich via it’s South and Centre tops and descending over Sgurr nan Gobhar. The rock was dry, but we were in cloud most of the day on the ridge and only got views when descending the Sgurr nan Gobhar ridge.

Jonathan and Julia on the summit of Sgurr na Banachdaich.

On Saturday Jonathan and I went up to Bealach a’Bhasteir and ascended and descended Am Basteir via it’s East Ridge taking in the Bad Step. We then ascended Sgurr nan Gillean via Tooth Groove and Arete and the West Ridge before descending the South-East Ridge. Again the rock was dry and the cloud lifted during the day to give us good views in the afternoon.

Jonathan descending Sgurr nan Gillean.

Today the weather forecast had changed overnight and the heavy rain and strong winds were forecast to arrive later, so I was able to stop off and take in Gairich on the way south with the rain only catching up with me on the descent. I descended the North ridge, which gave a quick way down out of the weather and was able to walk along the Loch Quoich “beach” as the water levels are currently low. The hills in this area are pretty wet underfoot at the moment and gaiters are a good idea if away from well drained paths. I’ll add more photos to the ClimbNow Facebook page.

Northern Lights and Classic Mountaineering

Andrew flew up on Wednesday and I picked him up from EICA Ratho, where he’d visited Alan Lockhart who’s working with him to solve some long term injuries. We then headed North with the aim of four days of mountaineering/climbing. Andrew is planning some long term goals in the Greater Ranges and the idea was to improve Andrew’s efficiency of movement on alpine terrain, look at some specific skills and also have a good time ticking some Scottish classics without aggravating any injuries. As we drove North we were lucky enough to get a great view of the Northern Lights along Glen Dochart and North of Crianlarich. On Thursday we climbed North Buttress on Buachaille Etive Mor and descended Curved Ridge taking in Crowberry Tower. We had sunshine at times and the rock was surprisingly dry with most of Rannoch Wall looking dry enough for climbing.

Andrew exiting one of the chimneys on North Buttress.

Andrew exiting one of the chimneys on North Buttress.

We then headed up to Skye as Andrew had never been in the Black Cuillin and was keen to get a feel for the ridge. The weather on Friday was unfortunately worse than earlier forecasts, so Andrew didn’t get much chance to see the hills. However, we ascended Sgurr Dearg via Coire na Banaichdaich and it’s North-West Flank; climbed the Inaccessible Pinnacle by it’s East Ridge and descended the South-East Flank of Sgurr Dearg to the An Stac Screes. Having been in constant steady rain and cloud for most of the day we then decided to bail down the screes and out via Coire Lagan.

Approaching the top of the Inn Pinn in the rain and cloud.

Approaching the top of the Inn Pinn in the rain and cloud.

With the forecast not looking great on Skye for Saturday we had an early start and made for the Cairngorms. Here we walked in to Coire an t-Sneachda. After a pleasant chat with Glenn and Euan who were headed for Hell’s Lum Crag we climbed Pygmy Ridge. We approached this via the line of Central Gully Left Hand and it’s worth noting that there a couple of sizable perched blocks in this area at the moment. Once on the plateau we headed down Coire Domhain and around to Stag Rocks where we climbed Afterthought Arete, sticking to the ridge as much as possible to maximise the climbing.

Andrew on Afterthought Arete.

Andrew on Afterthought Arete.

We had accommodation booked over in the West for Saturday night and needed a shortish day to allow for flights on Sunday, so the final day saw us back in Glen Coe. We climbed Barn Wall Route on the East Face of Aonach Dubh, this requires a steady approach as although there are excellent positive holds throughout there isn’t a lot in the way of gear. We then headed around under Stob Coire nan Lochan, so Andrew could get a look at this as a potential future winter venue, before heading out along Gearr Aonach and descending The Zig-Zags.

Andrew tired, but smiling, at the bottom of the Zig Zags on the last day.

Andrew tired, but smiling, at the bottom of the Zig Zags on the last day.

Four days of Classic Mountaineering in mostly very good weather for the time of year with the exception of Friday. If you’re heading out it’s worth knowing that we haven’t had a proper frost yet and hence the midges are still around and biting, thankfully for me they seemed to prefer Andrew.

Four Days and Four Seasons on Skye

I’m just back from spending Monday to Thursday on Skye with Marian and Hazel. We visited all eleven Munros on the Skye Ridge over the four days and experienced some very varied weather.

Hazel and Marian with Sgurr Alasdair and Sgurr Thearlaich behind on June 2!

Hazel and Marian with Sgurr Alasdair and Sgurr Thearlaich behind on 2nd of June!

On Monday with wet snow down to around 750m and sleet falling from early afternoon we had an early start and went up Sgurr a’Ghreadaidh and Sgurr a’Mhadaidh from An Dorus.

Marian and Hazel just above the chimney on The South-West Ridge of Sgurr Alasdair

Marian and Hazel just above the chimney on The South-West Ridge of Sgurr Alasdair

The forecast had worsened for Tuesday, but we decided to attempt Sgurr nan Eag, Sgurr an Dubh Mor via Sgurr Dubh na Da Bheinn and Sgurr Alasdair via it’s South-West Ridge and descend The Great Stone Shoot. Fresh snow and fairly constant sleet/rain made for a long day. However, the occasional break in the clouds gave amazing views and successfully completing the planned route made it very rewarding.

Hazel and Marian on top of Am Basteir with Sgurr nan Gillean behind

Hazel and Marian on top of Am Basteir with Sgurr nan Gillean behind

The best weather of the week on Wednesday saw us traversing Sgurr nan Gillean, Am Basteir and Bruach na Frithe in sunshine or broken cloud for most of the day.

Marian and Hazel in cloud on the top slab of the Inaccessible Pinnacle

Marian and Hazel in cloud on the top slab of the Inaccessible Pinnacle

Thursday didn’t live up to it’s better forecast and we spent most of the day in cloud and later steady drizzle as we visited Sgurr na Banachdich, The Inaccessible Pinnacle and Sgurr Mhic Choinnich.

Hazel lowering off the Inaccessible Pinnacle

Hazel lowering off the Inaccessible Pinnacle

Skye, as usual, didn’t disappoint and Marian and Hazel coped brilliantly with all the weather had to throw at us. An excellent few days in very good company.

The sun on Wednesday and drizzle on Thursday had cleared most of the fresh snow by the time we left. However, the odd patch was still making some slabby sections quite treacherous and care was definitely required. I’ll put some more photos up on the Facebook page.

More Skye Photos

John has kindly sent through some very atmospheric photos from Monday’s day out on Skye. They might be just the thing to cool you down on a warm evening.

Me and Harvey on the Inaccessible Pinnacle. Photo Credit: John Strachan.

Me and Harvey on The Inaccessible Pinnacle. Photo Credit: John Strachan.

Harvey abseiling from The Inaccessible Pinnacle

Harvey abseiling from The Inaccessible Pinnacle. Photo Credit: John Strachan.

John and Harvey on The Skye Ridge. Photo Credit: John Strachan.

John and Harvey on The Skye Ridge. Photo Credit: John Strachan.

Skye

Yesterday I was out on Skye with father and son team John and Harvey. The forecast of sunshine and showers didn’t really materialise for the Southern end of The Black Cuillin and once above 500m we were in cloud all day with some very heavy showers.

Harvey reaching the easy ground on The Inaccessible Pinnacle's East Ridge

Harvey reaching the easy ground on The Inaccessible Pinnacle’s East Ridge

However, we had a successful day going up through Coire na Banachdich to Sgurr Dearg; climbing The Inaccessible Pinnacle; descending via The South-East Flank to reach Bealach Coire Lagan; ascending and descending Sgurr MhicChoinnich via it’s North ridge and then heading down via the An Stac Screes and Coire Lagan.

Harvey and John on a narrow section of The North Ridge of Sgurr MhicCoinnich

Harvey and John on a narrow section of The North Ridge of Sgurr MhicCoinnich

The day completed the Skye Munros for John and great for him to be able to share that with Harvey, despite the lack of views on the day.

John and Harvey on the summit of Sgurr MhicCoinnich

John and Harvey on the summit of Sgurr MhicCoinnich

Blackford Quarry

Out for a very pleasant evening with Keith at Blackford Quarry in Edinburgh looking at the rope skills required for tackling the Inaccessible Pinnacle on Skye. The venue worked well and we used routes on both sides of the quarry and the pinnacle to cover lead belaying, removing protection as a second and abseiling. The quarry was catching the sun and there were several pairs bottom roping the routes on the main face. Some care is required with the rock in the quarry as it can be friable.