Cuillin Ridge Traverse

Cuillin Ridge
This was a bit of a weird one for me as there was no real thought or planning because I didn't really expect it to happen. A chance comment to a very old friend from the dark ages led to us agreeing that if the forecast was ok-ish for the last week in May we would drive up and have a look.
Now as much as I love Scotland I gave up going there a long time ago. In another life, for a few years, I would drive through on my way to Shetland buying sheep in the Borders and on the Islands, the weather usually appalling. I even persuaded my wife to come with me on a couple of summer excursions, the weather was similarly appalling for the most part, we do however still talk about standing atop An Teallach under a glorious blue sky looking out to the Summer Isles, but despite the passing years we also remember the midges! So living on South Dartmoor close to a ferry port it's actually easier to head south to the Pyrenees. Anyway the forecast was pretty optimistic.

16 hours driving brought us to Glen Brittle campsite. Some sleep and then copious amounts of coffee we settled the camping bill and by mid morning we were gearing up to go. Now I had never been here before and my partner in crime had sat on Skye in the rain on a few occasions in the hope of getting on to the ridge, pretty much a pair of virgins. We did have some photocopies of a guide, a good 2+ days food and a well established ability to suffer, we were ready.

We followed the well trod path from the campsite towards the southern end of the ridge and headed up into Coir'a' Ghrunnda to the Loch for a quick lunch. Here we gained the ridge and headed south in the sunshine to Gars-Bheinn where we about faced and did it all again including the detour to Sgurr Dubh Mor. We now needed to replenish water supplies and with the previous day's travelling catching up with us we headed down to a bivy spot we spied earlier beneath the T-D Gap with a good spring.

Apart from my snoring mate a good night was had and we were breakfasted and back on the ridge quite quickly having finally given up our warm sleeping bags, no alpine starts here! The immediate scramble up to, abseil off, and climb back out of the T-D Gap first thing in the morning certainly grabbed our attention, but what an awesome day of never ending interest we had as far as Bealach na Glaic Moire where finding a good supply of melting snow only a few metres off the ridge we decided to have supper and set up our second bivy.

Well we were lucky the forecasted showers didn't arrive during the night but the niggling northerly breeze of the previous 2 days intensified making for a freezing bivy, wore everything but still too cold to catch more than a few moments of sleep. Dawn brought the sun again and the wind died back to a breeze, I just lay finally warm in my sleeping bag, seriously tough getting out!
We were both tired and although it didn't look as though we had far to go it was slow going, route finding to multiple abseils it was a relief to have sections of grade 3 scrambling to solo!
With lunch on the summit of Bruach na Frithe the end was in plain view. Arriving at the Baister Tooth we were both fried and bypassed it to climb Am Baister up the east ridge then return to Bealach a'Bhasteir to climb Sgurr nan Gillean to complete the ridge.

Having given no thought to what happens now it was fortuitous to meet several people on the summit who wanted to descend in the same direction as us but didn't have a rope or harness for the final abseil, lift back to Glen Brittle negotiated we saw everyone down and staggered the remaining miles down to Sligachan in a daze. Having showered at the campsite the breeze that had been our companion for the last 3 days died and the midges came out to feast! Crisps, peanuts and a few noodles provided a celebratory supper whilst hiding in the van.
A broken nights sleep preceded the caffeine fueled 16 hour journey home, what an adventure! Thanks Pete.   

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