Cuillins Completed July2005

Helen Rose Hill Diary

Photo: Skye Palm. Skye is a wonderful island although subject to fickle weather from the Atlantic fronts and there is much for the tourist to see there. On the Skye Cuillins, there are twelve Munros in total and these mountains are the most challenging in Scotland for a Munro bagger. The ultimate challenge is the Inaccessible Pinnacle on Sgurr Dearg, affectionately known as the In Pin. There comes a time in every baggers life when the Cuillins need to be tackled. I have already climbed four of the Munros but by the easy routes and those left required more serious scrambling and a little climbing and abseiling.

This year I decided the time had come to complete the Cuillin Munros so I booked a guide in Skye. He was George Yeomans and he can be contacted on the website at I would thoroughly recommend George as he managed to guide me as a slow walker with poor scrambling technique over the Munros, even to cries of ?I am scared and I can?t do this.? He was also very entertaining with the stories from his exciting and adventurous life and the Mountain Rescue Team on Skye. He rescued my friend Tom last year when he fell and broke his leg in the Cuillins and pointed out the exact spot where the accident happened.

Photo: Cuillin Ridge. I was able to complete these hills because I do not have a fear of heights, I have a long reach being tall and I am very determined not to be beaten. There is a fair amount of exposure in these climbs so they should not be taken lightly.

Just to give you a flavour of the four days I spent on the Cuillins, here is a summary of the programme. There could be a fifth day to complete the round as Blaven is away from the main ridge but I had previously climbed it. In other articles, I have written on Sgurr nan Gillean (June2004) and Sgurr Alasdair (July2003).

Day 1. Walk up from Glenbrittle and then up scree with reasonably easy scramble to Mhic Choinnich and back to col then walk over to the In Pin. Two pitch climb roped up to the top of the In Pin and then abseil down the short side. Walk over to Sgurr Banachdich and back down to

Day 2. Walk from Glenbrittle to An Dorris ( the doorway), the col between Sgurr a Mhadaidh and Sgurr a Ghreadaich. The last bit is a short scree section. Up to Sgurr a Mhadaidh with minor scrambling and then back to the col and up An Dorris where there is a short tricky scramble on to ridge to Sgurr a Ghreadaich with minor scrambling to the top. Return by An Dorris via the tricky bit and the guide used the rope without a harness for me. It was his decision and I wasn?t about to argue!

Photo: Cuillins Mist. Day 3. Walk from Sligachan to Coire Basteir where I stayed in the shelter tent while the others walked over to Bruach na Frithe then we all climbed Am Basteir. It was raining and the guide decided not to use the bypass as the rock is basalt here and was slippery so we roped up to descend the bad step by abseiling although it was short. Back to the col and the others climbed to Sgurr nan Gillean but I stayed in the shelter tent as it was very wet and I had already done it. They did require ropes for the short climb on it.

Day 4 This was the longest day of nearly ten hours in wet, misty, warm, weather. Walked from Glenbrittle through Coire Ghuinda and up very slippery slabby rocks to the col for Sgurr nan Eag. Easy scramble onto Sgurr nan Eag then picked up rucksacks from the col and up to Sgurr Dubh Mor which had some tricky bits and was a zig zag scramble though a lot of rock. This could have been extremely difficult navigation without a guide.

Usually we dumped the rucksacks at the col, making scrambling much easier. George was wonderful and made it all easy pointing out the hand and footholds and the technique for crossing difficult bits of rock. I think it was a new experience for him having regular teabreaks! This was all tailored to the group he was leading and there are other permutations to do these Munros. All helmets and harnesses are supplied.

Photo: In Pin. The In Pin deserves little more explanation as it is regarded as the hardest Munro out of the 284 Munros in Scotland so I feel very satisfied to have done it. We donned helmets and harnesses and were roped up at the bottom of this 70 foot high slab of rock on top of a mountain. It was climbed in two pitches on the long side of the rock and as I climbed up the rope tightened from above to ensure if I fell it would not be too long a drop. When we reached the end of the first pitch on a ledge, we rested while the Guide moved up to the top and fastened the rope. The second pitch was much easier to climb with good hand and foot holds. I certainly did not look at the view while climbing as I was too busy trying to work out where to put my hands and feet. There was a wonderful feeling of exhilaration at the top until I realised I had to abseil down. I had never done this before and although I was told to walk backwards over the edge, lean out and bounce my feet over the rock, I thought too much about it and did not obey instructions so ended up being lowered vertically down on the rope. It looks great watching other people doing it right but I will not be beaten on this and intend to go to the climbing wall to learn the technique and overcome my fear of dangling on a rope. We celebrated with lunch at the renowned Three Chimneys Restaurant.

Now that I have done the Cuillins, I can go back and do them again for enjoyment and maybe even consider Pinnacle Ridge!

Coming attractions; Ben Alder, Arran again and Cairngorms.

Contact me at [email protected]

Thanks to Frances Rickus for the photos

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