Tuesday 1 June 2010

OM Skye Meet. May 15th - 22nd 2010. Cuillin Ridge traverse. Sgurr Nan Eag to Bealach Coire Lagan.

This year's meet saw 5 Outdoors Magic members accompanying Iain on the Annual Cuillin Ridge traverse.

From left to right we have Ellie Taylor & Derek Goffin - both new to working with Iain & Kendal Mountaineering Services. The other three in the party - Kelvin Mann, Maria Norris and Mike Cotton have all attended scrambling courses in the Lake District and Wales and Maria & Kelvin have attended Iain's Winter skills and winter climbing courses in Scotland recently.

Here, the party were to be found ascending the slopes of Sgurr Nan Eag - the first Munro on the Cuillin Ridge in cloudy, but largely dry weather. Certainly, given we were also forecast to receive showers on this first day, it was a great relief to find that for us, the forecasters appeared to have got it wrong!

Some considerable time later on day one Iain snapped this shot of Ellie & Derek climbing the easy chimney near the Sgumain/Alasdair Bealach on the way to the summit of Sgurr Alasdair - the highest of the Cuillin Munros.

By now it was almost 4pm - some 5 hours since we had topped out on Sgurr Nan Eag but we had traversed Sgurr Dubh Mor and Sgurr Dubh Da Bheinn inbetween. Whilst no ropwork was deemed necessary between these two points time still needed to be taken to keep everyone safe.

Derek & Ellie were new to scrambling at this grade although Ellies confidence progressed markedly throughout the day. It had been decided though that they did not wish to attempt the famous (or infamous!) TD Gap with its polished severe chimney, Iain was happy to aviod this section in view of the time it would have taken to get the whole party across it.

After arriving at the summit of Sgurr Alasdair it was quickly off, down across the head of the Great Stone Chute leading into Coire Lagan and up and over the next top - Sgurr Thearlaich and on to the Bealach Mhic Choinnich.

To get down to the bealach, one must either abseil down from the end of the Thearlaich arete or descend on the north side and then traverse into the bealach Mhic Choinnich and this was the route chosen. However, on this ,the two descents down smooth slabs were wet making them tricky and Iain decided that an abseil and then a lower was necessary to keep the party safe.

In photo 3 the group can be seen all attached to the rope via slings and their belay devices in a setup known as a stacked abseil. Each person then followed Iain one at a time whilst he was able to protect their decents from below

Once at the Bealach Mhic Choinnich, a short step brings you on to Hart's (Collies) ledge - a basalt dyke traversing the south side of Sgurr Mhic Choinnich with breathtaking views down into Coire Lagan and out to the islands of Rhum & Canna.

For the most part the ledge is fairly broad although there are a few narrow sections involving some spotting and some people found the exposure challenging as people often do. However, with support from each other and some help from Iain the group quickly reached the far end and nipped up to the summit of Sgurr Mhic Choinnich - their fourth Munro of the day.

In this fourth photo, the view beyond the ledge is towards Sgurr Dearg with the famous Inaccessible Pinnacle which we were all to ascend the next day. The two summits to the right of this are Sgurr Na Banachdich & Sgurr Thormaid respectively.

The final shot of the day - the descent path from Coire Lagan looking straight in to Loch Brittle with the isle of Canna to the left and away in the distance towards to the right - the Outer Herbides, Barra & South Uist.

Having reached the Bealach Coire Lagan fairly late, Iain & the group decided to call it a day there and return to the vehicles at Glen Brittle via Coire Lagan.

It had been a long but satisfying day, four Munros had been climbed and there had been some climbing and abseiling and some exhilarating scrambling. All in all, a full on day for all concerned.

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