/ Cuillin Ridge-winter traverse

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Withnail - on 10 Jul 2012
Hi,

Last month I did the Cuillin ridge traverse in a day with a mate from Garbh Bheinn to Sgurr nan Gillean. A fantastic experience I cant recommend enough. Enjoyed it so much I may be going up to Skye again later this month to have another pop with another mate and try to beat my slow time.

Anyway, I'm really keen on doing the winter traverse this season so would appreciate any help/advice or info. I understand this is normally done from Sgurr nan Gillean to Garbh Bhein in winter over 2 or 3 days, abseiling many of the major difficulties. In particular I'm interested in the following:

1) Will 1 x 60M rope be ok for abseiling-in particular the Basteir Tooth-and how is this normally done? I'd rather go as light as possible and just bring a half 60M rope.

2) TD gap- what grade does this go at coming out of the sgurr dubh mhor side (conditions dependant I guess). There seems to be some conflicting reports.

3) Any other info which you think might be useful. For instance weather patterns for good conditions build up on the ridge.

cheers

Jon
Mike Lates - on 10 Jul 2012
In reply to Withnail:
http://skyeguides.co.uk/onthehillside/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/SkyeGuides_TheWinterTraverse.pdf
Tom Patey's description was right and said something like- "heavy snow with no wind to blow it off the crest, followed by a thaw right to the summit level but not so heavy as to strip it followed a by a period of clear cold weather, usually with a north or easterly airflow."
Luckily we don't need to wait for these rare conditions to play winter games on the crags. Only chance last year was mid-december http://skyeguides.co.uk/white-lies-new-line-in-ice-paradise-15th-december/ Conditions had formed with a mad oscilating period of storms.
Previous year it was done 30th November! Be sharp but bring a rack as well in case the crest ain't in.
Withnail - on 11 Jul 2012
In reply to Mike Lates:

Thanks Mike.

Great info there. If you dont mind I might drop you an email if heading up over winter on the offchance you might have some conditions info?

I havent done any winter climbing on Skye- that report looks brilliant. We did some sea cliff climbing when we were up in May after the ridge-fantastic.

The 25M abseils probably mean,for me, I would bring a 60M rope. I would be a bit worried I wouldnt know my way well enough in winter without a little margin for error.

cheers

Jon
Mike Lates - on 11 Jul 2012
In reply to Withnail: Follow the blog; I think you can be tweeted for every post if you click somewhere but a bit beyond me ;).
The "just in case mentality" needs to be countered with a healthy alpine lightweight principle; we only took a single bottle for each night!
Withnail - on 11 Jul 2012
In reply to Mike Lates:

Ok cheers. Not on twitter but will follow the blog.

Think I get what your saying- suffering is key:)

thanks again

Jon
ross - on 11 Jul 2012
Hi Jon, I did this in March 2006. With regard to conditions, from the road there appeared to be almost no snow on the ridge. However when we got up there it was in fantastic nick with everything plastered in solid neve. Progress in such conditions is probably faster than in Summer; we only left Sligachan at 1pm but got over half way along the ridge before dark.
Conversely friends who did it a few days earlier had warmer temps and were wading slush before a miserable wet bivi.
We took one 60m half rope,4 wires and some slings which left room to take a warm sleeping bag.
Good luck with finding the right conditions, Ross.
Adam Long - on 11 Jul 2012
In reply to Withnail:

Had a pop at this a few years ago - the ab off the Tooth was very tight on a single 60m, ours was an 8mm so the stretch came in handy. We got down, though apparently this can be avoided easily with a bit of local knowledge.

With some careful downclimbing we only needed one more ab but the cloud was down and we ended up bailing at An Dorus due to rising temps. A similar rack to Ross was fine, there was always tat available to ab off so didn't have to leave anything.
Withnail - on 11 Jul 2012
In reply to Adam Long and Ross,

Thanks for the info guys. Think I'm gonna have to get very lucky with conditions, time off work and partners!
In reply to Withnail:


>
> 2) TD gap- what grade does this go at coming out of the sgurr dubh mhor side (conditions dependant I guess). There seems to be some conflicting reports.
>
We did the full Ridge, including Pinnacle Ridge to start in excellent winter nick in April many years ago now. After several abortive attempts, we waited for a combination heavy snow followed by a good freeze.

The others have answered your other questions much the same as I'd have done. The TD Gap was the hardest bit technically. I'd say IV (5) or even IV (6). Take some small wires.
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Withnail - on 11 Jul 2012
In reply to Stephen Reid:

Thanks Stephen. That sounds fine, easy for me to say though I guess when not tired after a couple of long days! Will keep an eye on conditions this season.

Jon

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