Back in May I made my first, long overdue trip to the Isle of Skye to sample the delights of the iconic Cuillin Ridge where I would be joining Lord Martin Cocks of Cocksville, Gez, Simon 'Roomie I can't sit still' Small, Tim, Russ, Sam and Andy, all under the guidance of mountain professionals Sandy, Huw, Dave and Rob of Expedition Guide.
Rising steeply from sea level to a maximum height of 3255ft/992m the bare, rocky chain of peaks are mainly made up of the igneous volcanic rock Gabbro (good for climbers) along with smaller amounts of Basalt (slippery when wet so not so good!). The dark, moody appearance of the range also leads to it being known as the Black Cuillin. It could also be known as 'Middle Earth' in my opinion.
Day 1 & it was straight in to it as we decided to take advantage of the dry weather and head up on to the ridge to climb the Inaccessible Pinnacle. The 'In Pinn' gained its name as it is a 'fin' of rock which stands at the top of Sgùrr Dearg and is the only Munro summit which requires climbing techniques & equipment.
My introduction to the Cuillin started with a long and steep walk in, which it seems is generally the way it works in that part of the world.
On reaching the base of the 'In Pinn' myself & Simon 'Roomie' Small attached ourselves to the rope as our leader and 'general mountain goat' Rob Johnson lead the way up. Whilst the scramble up was fairly easy the consequences of a fall would be fairly terminal!! After reaching the top we made use of the fixed gear in place to abseil off.
|*On top of the Inaccessible Pinnacle in the mist.|
|*Me & 'Roomie' Small on the 'In Pinn'.|
|The narrow Cuillin Ridge shrowded in mist, there are 2 figures in the mist if you look closely.|
We then headed to the summit of Sgurr nan Eag before descending down 1000m to the vehicles at Glenbrittle.
|Taking the RIB into Loch Scavaig.|
|Walking in by Loch Coruisk|
|*'Smally' has a smile before the abseil (he could smile as he hadn't carried the rope!)|
|*Abseiling from Sgurr Dubh Beag.|
|*Almost identical to the embassy(?)|
We headed to Elgol on Wednesday and Neist Point on Thursday where I had the chance to practice gear selection & placement, as well as setting up anchors and belays. I also had to haul my 'not built for climbing' frame up the the routes too!
Over the 2 days we climbed a number of routes of varying grades and I thoroughly enjoyed it, though hearing the 'whizz & clink' as some of my gear fell out and slid down the rope is something I will have to work on to eradicate from my climbing technique before it becomes a trademark!!
|*"Have you got me Roomie!?"|
|Simon 'Roomie' & Rob 'Mountain Goat' chill on the sea cliffs.|
|That'll be Rob enjoying himself again!|
|"Oops, that looks a long way down and I'm next!"|
|The walk back with the Black Cuillin in the back ground.|
Some of my kit, especially boots trousers & gloves, came out a very poor 2nd best after tangling with the Black Cuillin.
A place to be enjoyed but very much respected, see you again soon!
* Photos from Expedition Guide