Tuesday 2 October 2012

Cuillin Ridge Traverse Trip September 15th - 22nd 2012. Day two.

The MWIS weather forecast for day two of our Cuillin Ridge traverse trip was to be broadly the same as day one although less windy.

As both the Southern & Northern ends of the Cuillin Ridge are technically easier sections, Iain decided that we should go south today. Here we would start with Sgurr nan Eag - the southernmost Munro and aim to traverse via Sgurr Dubh Mor on to Sgurr Alasdair. With the weather being wet, it was considered too difficult and too hazardous to traverse the famous Thearlaich Dubh Gap so, instead, we would use the easier climb on to Sgurr Alasdair via a chimney on its south east side.

The route we used to get to Sgurr nan Eag was via Coire a' Ghrunnda. Photo one is taken at the foot of the long climb up into that coire. The view is south with the island of Soay in the distance.Unfortunately, at this point one of our party decided to turn back so Iain was left with only three. We made our way up into Coire a' Ghrunnda into the mist - not knowing if we would see a view again today.

However, as we scrambled up on to Sgurr nan Eag, more breaks in the cloud appeared and despite a few heavy showers Iain got the impression that the weather was generally improving.

After climbing Sgurr nan Eag, we returned to where we had stashed our rucksacs during our climb and then traversed right cutting through a little known gap which brings one out below a tricky section of ridge between Sgurr nan Eag and the Caisteal a' Garbh Choire. By using this route we saved ourselves time having to get the rope out and abseil at the very least and by cutting around the east side of the Caisteal a' Garbh Coire we saved ourselves having to do yet another abseil!

Photo two shows Zoe, Carl & Les as we approached the top of Sgurr Alasdair having done a roped climb up the Diff chimney as opposed to a stacked abseil followed by a polished Severe climb if we had gone via the TD Gap. However, there is one short exposed move above this chimney which also needs protecting using either a short rope, or if you have them - two larksfooted 480cm slings will suffice.

Photo three is taken from the summit of Sgurr Alasdair looking South East towards Coire a' Ghrunnda and then through the lower part of the coire out towards the island of Soay. The island of Rhum can also now be seen clearly, in the distance.

This trend of a wet & cloudy start to the day followed by improving weather from the west would be a theme that would continue throughout the following two days during our Cuillin Ridge Traverse Trip.

To get to the Summit of Sgurr Alasdair had taken us at least 7 hours after starting out from Glen Brittle. After Sgurr nan Eag, we had traversed under the east side of the Caisteal a' Garbh Choire and across the south side of Sgurr Dubh an Da Bheinn to get to Sgurr Dubh Mor before traversing on to the summit of Sgurr Dubh an Da Bheinn. From here we had scrambled down into the north side of Coire a' Chrunnda in order to reach the summit of Sgurr Alasdair via the easier chimney. All of this route finding is tricky and inevitably leads to lots of backtracking and unneccessary delays for unfamilair parties. This can lead to some very long days out and the odd epic! there is no doubt that hiring an experienced guide is well worth it!

Once on the summit of Sgurr Alasdair there are two options for continuing, both involve returning to the head of the Great Stone Chute and either traversing on via Sgurr Thearlaich - a serious proposition in the wet, or descending into Coire Lagan via the Great Stone Chute.

Bearing in mind that the time was now approaching 5pm, Iain decided it was time to bale off the ridge via this route and descend from Coire Lagan back to Glen Brittle. Photo four shows Les, Zoe & Carl on the walkout not actually too far from Glen Brittle, with behind (from L- R) The South West ridge of Sgurr Dearg, Sgurr Mhic Chionnich, Sgurr Alasdair, Sgurr Sgumain and the Cioch face of Sron na Ciche.

So, on day two of our Cuillin Ridge Traverse Trip, we had, again, achieved what we had set out to do. Three more Munros for the peak baggers - one of them the ridges highest summit; and some more climbing & scrambling in a stunning backdrop with fantastic views extending from mid afternoon right across to the Outer Hebrides.

Another great day - further photos with captions from this day on the ridge can be viewed here.

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