Jun 19 2008

Skye words

Category: Mountaineering,Scoutingash @ 6:56 pm

What a trip.  In day order …

  1. The Friday.  Left work just after 4, picked up Andy Cumpstey at Glasgow Airport about 7.45, to Glencoe just after 9.  Awesome ride up, really quiet.  Met the rest (Claire C, Ali C, Julie, Bainbo, Nige, Martin)whilst fighting midges then ran to the pub to get plans.
  2. Did 2 climbs from Classic Rock in Glencoe with Ali.  Was able to run them both together which made for a good day.  Still weak and not right after the Belguim illness, so an easy walk in and straightforward day was what I needed.  Did “The Long Crack” with rucsac on etc – good route although wobbled off a bit at the start.  The crack itself was an excellent pitch.  bimbled up and over to the start of the second route – Archers Ridge on the upper Tier of Anoach Dubh.  Dumped sacks and did in glorious weather – fantastic!  Nice interesting move in the middle, then cruised up to the top to put a bit of a flakey belay in, relying on a friend, which I’m never 100% convinced with.  Backed it up with a nut, but that wasn’t much better.  Then Ali got stuck – climbed past a runner so the rope was pulling her down … at full stretch on the crux.  Unable to unclip, unable to climb back down, and only the occasional terrified word making it through to me, about 35m off the deck in an exposed position.  After working out what had happened, I tied the system off, escaped the rope, prussik on and then descended the rope to Ali (after making damn sure the belay wasn’t going to move), fully loaded the rope to put enough slack into the system to reach round her and unclip the runner.  Gently brought her over to a stance, helped to calm her down a bit, then charged back up the rope, re-engaged the belay and brought her to the top, got her safe, then sat down and breathed out.  Got quite drunk that night whilst registering the events of before.  Learning points all round.  Claire and Andy had gone to do the Anoch Egach, but her booties suffered a total boot faliure (see pic). 1163
  3. Sunday. Reasonable forecast but weather looking a bit off.  Still wanted an easyish day, so me, Ali and Andy went and did Buchaille Etive Beag, as I’d not done it and wanted to do something new.  Interesting scramble which involved disturbing every midge in Scotland, then got onto the top, did the ridge, got some shots in down the Etive Valley etc, all very good.  Julie, plus Sam and Dave Docherty (who had arrived on the Saturday) and Bainbo were on The Anoch Egach, and Martin plus Nige were on Ben Nevis.  Great day, all did stuff, Claire headed back through Peebles to bike as her booties had exploded (pity we didn’t know the world mountain bike competition was happening 5 miles north of us), ended up at the Grog and Gruel pub in Fort Bill, to devour a Boar Burger – all 6Oz of it. Mmmmm.  That night, after food we said bye to Martin and Nige and headed over to Kintail to camp for a couple of nights.
  4. Monday came, with iffy weather.  Did a map check then convinced Maria (Who’d arrived that night with Pete Fricker) and Andy to come and have a crack at Ben Alligan in Torridon with me – as none of us had been that way before.  Pete was up for it as well, although his fitness limited what he could do so he did his own route and we fought (literally!) to the top of the Ben, then did the ridgeline behind it – reasonably sustained grade 1 to 2 scrambling for about 3 hours.  Loads of crampon scrapes – looks awesome in winter.  Made mental note to return this coming winter and reverse the route.  Turned out this was Maria’s first munro – so celebrated this in the Lochcarron seaside cafe with a most excellent haggis and cheese toastie.  Sounds rank, tasted out of this world.  And with Cappacino with cinammon on top.  Living in style.  Hit the boozer that night to plan future thoughts, all good, chilled with everyone.
  5. Tuesday, we decided to have another day in the area then head to Skye.  Weather iffy again, so decided to risk a climb, up in the Applecross area.  Dave J had spoken at length about this area a couple of years ago, so figured I’d go see what all the fuss was about.  After a 45 min drive, with some pretty mad scenery to drive through, we got to the foot of the crag (a full 2 mins from the road – this is a mountain crag I hasten to point out!)  We climbed on Sgurr a’ Chaorachain, and did  Swordstick – an excellent 6 pitch HS route with an ‘interesting’ runout at the top.  Pete’s got an excellent shot of us (taken from the far ridge of the valley) at http://flickr.com/photos/24075448@N07/2574136510/sizes/l/ .Back to the Lochcarron cafe to dry out a bit (started raining on the final pitch), then back to base. Dropped kit and moved to Skye, back to the good ol’ Sligachan Bunkhouse.  Beers were had and plots collected.
  6. Wednesday brought the time for Andy to leave us.  He had to get back to Cambridge & so he got the direct bus from the Slig bunkhouse to Glasgow Airport – about £28 single – most useful! Me, Ali and Maria went to have a crack at a really long mod route on the coire behind Sgurr nan Gillian and Am Bhastier.  3 hours walk in past the bloody stone, geared up at the bottom of some imposing slabs, tried several ways in vain to get past the start bit, but as the water was running down the slabs, down my arms and straight to the core I was getting bad vibes.  The clag was down above us, the rock was covered in lichen/moss that was holding the water & the protection was iffy.  Sacrificed a nut and retreated back down, to find shivery and midge-infested Ali and Maria.  We ran away, 3 hours back out.  So, a rained off day with 7 hours gone – least we did something.  No space in the Slig that night so we drove round to Portnalong and got into the Skyewalker.  There’s new owners there who have worked on the hostel quite a bit- hence the price increase to £12.50/night.  Worth it though, really good vibe.
  7. Thursday – I wanted to get up on something after the rain yesterday.  Forecast iffy, so decided to have a crack at Cioch direct and Integrity on the Sron na Ciche wall, and bail on a scramble if it did rain.  Maria was up for it, so we got to Glenbrittle (in an increasingly worryingly noisy car), and kitted up.  Decided on the 2 half rope plan as the rope drag yesterday was collosal on the Skye rock.  Headed up to Coire Lagan, as the skies started to darken.  We assessed our options & checked the guidebooks, and decided that being stuck on a climb in the p1ssing rain was not much fun (been there before!), so decided to head up onto the ridge.  Scrambled up into the Coire proper, then stomped up the Great Stone Shoot (not ideal in ascent unless you like wasting energy), turned left at the top and got to the Belach below Alisdair as the clag lifted a bit and we could see into the valley on the otherside – awesome!  Cracking views down into Lagan too.  We did Harts (or Collies) Ledge – an exposed shelf that traverses a top, with some cracking positions.1181  Got to the ridge on the far side, did the ridge to bag the top, then headed back down.  Bimbled to the bottom, skirted round An Stac, then went round to get the top of An Stac and look with awe at the Inaccessible Pinnacle.  Kitted up, then up onto that, and abseiled off the other end.  1190Dropped up over Sgurr Dearg, then decided to do the next munro as well, as we had the weather!  So, headed round to the top of Sgurr na Banachdich, then dropped to teh flank of Sgurr Gohbar and had an ‘interesting’ descent off.  Wits about you on that one! 1193 On the drive out, I noticed that the knocking noise on the car had got a lot worse.  I pulled over, checked the wheel nuts and had a good root around the wheels themselves but couldn’t find anything.  Realised it’d be silly to try to drive home like this, so decided to write tomorrow off and get booked into a garage.  Drove back to the Skyewalker (picked up a load of carryout bottles from the boozer), and spent the night eating, looking at maps and buzzing from an amazing day!
  8. Er, Friday.  The others had done a route the previous day that involved leaving a car miles away, so whilst they were on a 3 hr epic to retrieve the car, I decided to find a garage.  Spoke to the lass at the hostel & between us we rang just about every garage in NW scotland, but none would commit to being able to fix it in a day – and the next 2 days were the weekend.  Realised that I’d have to drive back home, but this only really sank in when I was on the other side of the island from the others, in great weather.  Pulled over, rang Julie, and decided to go walking instead – leaving Skye in good weather is illegal in my book if you can get out!  So, solo trip.  Walked up into the Gillian Corrie, then bagged Sgurr nan Gillian via a Mod graded chimbley on the ridgeline, then back down (guiding down an elderly feller who had managed to get to the top but was having issues getting off), then Am Bhastier via the bad step, then back to the belach, skirted under Bhastier and the Tooth, round and over to Bruach na Frithe, then back to the Tooth spur and off towards the Slig hotel.  1220Spotted Julie and the others at the 3rd pinnicle on Pinnacle Ridge, rang through to say I was on my way off & headed down the ridge.  When at the bottom, drove over to Glencoe to stick up tent, then back to Fort Bill to meet the others for a curry.  Ate, then to the boozer for one with Martin and the others.
  9. Saturday, climbing.  Headed up to the Buchaille with January Jigsaw in mind, but got to the bottom of the route (1.5 hrs walk in) to find it starting to rain, and bands of rain sweeping over the highlands.  decided to bail & ran away back to the car, then round to the ice factor to meet the others and climb for about 4 hours – excellent session.  That eve we drove over to Ardlui, north of Arrochar.  Top night in the Drovers Arms, finding out how much beer we could drink.
  10. Quite a lot apparantly.  Staggered around for a while, sobered up, then drove to Arrochar.  Realised at the car park that there was no way in hell I was going up a mountain, so announced to Maria and Martin (the only 2 remaining) that we were having an all day breakfast.  Retreated to a very posh caff, ate, drank, and was happy.  Loped home in a car that had now forgotten that it was broken at all.1226

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