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Way back in time before the onset of adulthood I enjoyed countless days heading into the hills of Yorkshire with nothing more than a squashed sandwich & youthful sense for adventure! Despite long past youthful and work commitments keeping me in the city, the sense of adventure and love for the outdoors never left me. After digging my boots out and returning to the hills I attended a number of courses to improve my hill knowledge and skill base, during one of these courses it was suggested I join the Mountain Leader Training scheme and was delighted go on to gain the MOUNTAIN LEADER Award in April 2012. As well as spending time on the hills and mountains of the UK I have also enjoyed trips to the Nepalese Himalaya, Swiss & French Alps, Mallorca’s Tramuntana, Andorran & French Pyrenees, Morocco’s High Atlas, Tanzania’s Mt Meru & Kilimanjaro, Argentinian & Chilean Patagonia and winter expeditions to Norway’s Hardangervidda. Since gaining the ML I have also gained the SINGLE PITCH AWARD, INTERNATIONAL MOUNTAIN LEADER AWARD and the WINTER MOUNTAIN LEADER AWARD. I am now enjoying working in a freelance role whilst trying to get out climbing as much as possible.

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

May - Skye's the limit!

N.B Forgive me for the apparent neglect of my Blog, this is not the case as I have been out on mountain adventures gaining material to blog about!

 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.

 We then headed off in the mist across the ridge to bag the Munro's of 'Sgurr Mhic Choinnich' & Sgurr Alasdair. I think the surrounding mist gave me 'confidence through ignorance' as although I knew the drops either side of the narrow ridge were sheer and of hundreds (if not thousands) of feet, we moved quickly and safely to 'bag' the further 2 Munro's before descending down the 'Stone Chute', a knee and boot wrecking slip & slide down a scree slope!
*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. 
Day 2 & we took a boat ride from Elgol to Loch Scavaig for a long scramble up the Dubhs Ridge with a long abseil thrown in to spice things up. We made our way up to the summit of Sgurr Dubh Mor (me carrying the rope all the way as Simon had a 'bit of a run' planned for the weekend and didn't want to be too tired!!) before stopping for a spot of lunch and discussion on the possible consequences for anyone attempting the route if poorly equipped and with poor navigational skills.
 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(?)
  Day 3 & 4  with snow having fallen on the ridge it was decided we would stay low and do some sea cliff & rock climbing, an added bonus for me as this is an area where I need to practice & improve.
 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!?"
*Belaying Andy.
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.

Expedition Guide video of the trip.

 Although though the trip was a 5 day trip I unfortunately had to leave at the end of the 4th day. Considering that the last 2 days of my trip had been spent climbing and not having to make the long walks in and out of a day on the ridge + I missed the last day completely, I can only imagine how tiring 5 consecutive days on the ridge could be. I was still feeling the effects well into the following week!
 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

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