Sunday 21 May 2017

Guiding on The Cuillin Ridge. May 4th, 2017. The Am Bastier Tooth and Am Basteir via Lota Corrie Route.

After a rest day on Wednesday, Iain Steve and Jon met for one last time at Sligachan for the final objective of the pairs three days on the Cuillin Ridge - an ascent of Am Basteir via Lota Corrie Route and the Am Basteir Tooth.

As with the previous three days, the weather dawned hot and sunny and only a slight breeze and everything, everywhere, bone dry - just perfect for our final day on the ridge. Photo one saw us approaching Coire a' Bhastier after only and hour & a half - all "going well". Our objectives are on the skyline in the middle of the photo to the left of Steve.

A little over an hour later, we had reached and then descended beyond the Bealach Nan Lice - the col between Am Basteir Tooth and Sgurr a' Fionn Coire, into the head of Lota Corrie.

The guide describes the entry to Lota Corrie Route as a ramp of light coloured rock reached just before arriving at the lowest part of the cliff on that side. There is also a quite obvious cairn marking the foot of the climb.

After some lunch, Iain set off up the climb which is in fact, a basalt dyke forming a chimney leading all the way to the top of the tooth.

Whilst Lota Corrie Route is described as a moderate climb, Iain felt the route was only grade three scrambling although there was a lot of loose rock in the bed of the gully so, we pitched it all the way. Photo two is taken at the top of a steep chimney. One further pitch led us on to the "root" of the Am Basteir Tooth.

Photo three sees Steve & Jon just below the highest point on the Am Basteir Tooth. Although this looks fearsome from below, the top of the tooth is a gently sloping ramp. However when you look over the edge, it really does feel like a long way down to the screes below and it is easy to imagine how exposed one might feel when arriving here via Naismith's Route (a V Diff rock climb). In fact, a pair arrived with us just then - having climbed that route as part of their two day Cuillin Ridge Traverse.

This was the first time Iain had been to the top o the Am Basteir Tooth, so today was as much of an adventure for him as it was the others.

In the background in photo three, the summit rocks of Am Basteir rear above us; and according to the guidebook, getting there is via a "tricky" climb above an overhanging chimney - also graded at V Diff. It was now time to go and have a look at this!

Photo four looks down on Steve & Jon securely anchored on a stance below this tricky climb.

Getting there was easy enough. We scrambled back down the tooth and climbed back up and round right into a gully (lower left in this photo) leading up to the stance with a wall above.

It was clear to see that going via the overhanging chimney was the easiest way up this wall which completely barred access to the summit of Am Basteir; and it turned out to be remarkably easy to get up. Mind you - it wasn't a place to slip as there were no decent running belays anywhere on it! On a wet day, this would be a serious place to be.

Iain made sure that Steve & Jon saw how he had climbed it; and they followed - with ease! All that remained was about 15 foot of easy scrambling to the summit of Am Basteir.

Photo five sees a very satisfied pair of clients on the summit of Am Basteir - their fifth & final Cuillin Ridge Munro of the week.

Beyond the guys is the summit of Sgurr Nan Gillean which is the last Munro summit to be traversed if one is traversing The Cuillin Ridge from south to north. Steve climbed it in 2014 with Iain, Jon has yet to reach it's summit.

From here, we descended easier slopes going via the "bad step" and arriving at the Bealach a' Bhastier at around 15:30. Very good timing!

A further two hours would see us arrive back at the vehicles at the Sligachan Hotel. On  the walk back out, Iain couldn't resist taking a photo of the pair in the lower part of Coire a' Bhasteir with the Pinnacle Ridge skyline of Sgurr Nan Gillean forming the backdrop - a classic Cuillin photograph and also a "must do" tick for anyone wishing to enjoy a true mountaineering excursion in The Cuillins.

So that was it, the end of three perfect mountaineering days on the best mountain ridge in the UK and sadly for Iain, the end of another annual week spent in this idyllic place; and the weather just couldn't have been better! We'll be returning to Skye next May for our annual Cuillin Ridge Traverse Trip and if you wish to join us and be guided by Iain on the Cuillin Ridge whilst enjoying the comfort and hospitality offered by our accommodation then contact us here. The price next year is likely to be £475 per person for seven nights self catering accommodation and four days guiding on the ridge with Iain. We look forward to working with you!

No comments: