/ Cuillin Ridge in winter; timings for different sections

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Mike Lates - on 08 Dec 2012
One oversight in the new guidebook is a winter grade for doing individual sections and rounds of the corries. With conditions looking good in the coming week the breakdown below may be useful. It should also be of use for those just doing individual sections.
Winter is when the Cuillin truly takes on its "Alpine" status with conditions affecting the seriousness, line & techniques differently through the day. Descents are particularly thought provoking! With this in mind I've opted for using an alpine grading rather than Scottish winter. Timings are for (R) rounds, (S) sections or (A) approach. Approach & descents will vary hugely but allow 3.5 hours to the first summit in all but perfect conditions. Allow a min of 2 hours to descend but the last hour will probably be on a good footpath.
Daylight is about 7-30am to 4pm just now but will vary a lot with cloud cover.

(R) Traverse Gillean up Tourist rte, Descend from Bealach A Bhasteir E-W AD 9hrs
(S) Traverse Am Basteir & Tooth AD 1.5hrs
(S) Bruach na Frithe to Bealach Harta AD 2hrs
(S) Traverse Bidean N-S (col to col on Traverse) D 1.5hrs
(S) Glaic Moire to An Dorus AD 2hrs
(S) An Dorus- Banachdaich AD 2+hrs
(R) Coire na Banachdaich PD 8hrs
(A) Dearg W Ridge PD 3hrs in ascent
(R) Coire Lagan, Pinn to Alasdair D 9hrs
(R) Dubhs from Ghrunnda AD 7hrs
(R) Sgurr nan Eag to Gars-bheinn PD 8hrs

A brief overview is also available here & prints off easily in a single A4 sheet.
Mike Lates - on 08 Dec 2012
In reply to Mike Lates:
(R) Traverse Gillean up Tourist rte, Descend from Bealach A Bhasteir E-W AD 9hrs SHOULD BE 7 HOURS; IE ~5 HRS TO BEALACH A BHASTEIR ON AN ATTEMPT
All the timings are guideline only & conservative if perfect conditions prevail.
Snoweider - on 09 Dec 2012
In reply to Mike Lates:

Thanks! Can't seem myself doing the full traverse in winter but this is really useful for day forays too. Did the Banachdaich Coire in powdery conds a few years back expecting a wintery walk. It still ranks as one of my best winter mountaineering days out! Found it harder than Tower Ridge which I did in same season under better conditions.
Mike Lates - on 09 Dec 2012
In reply to Snoweider: Long way from Arran to Skye! Your experience mirrors other tales I hear but few seem to believe such quality exists until they've actually been.
Looking perfect for a Traverse now 'til Wednesday (or Thursday possibly). I'll give up posting on UKC if I don't hear about anyone going for it.
AlH - on 09 Dec 2012
In reply to Mike Lates: I know suitors are packing bags. I'm working so can't go with them....
Tom Last - on 09 Dec 2012
In reply to Mike Lates:

Thanks for this Mike, very helpful.

Last winter, I took what I thought was a very slim chance on Skye after being turned back from Torridon late night by the Stromferry landslide.

I was with two winter newbies and we didn't have a guidebook, so knowing the ridge a bit we just did the southwest ridge of Sgurr Dearg, which despite the powdery conditions probably ranks as one of the best days out doing anything, anywhere, that I've ever had.

My friends couldn't quite believe they'd never been winter climbing before and I couldn't quite believe their luck - but I'll be taking the chance again for sure!

http://www.ukclimbing.com/images/dbpage.html?id=191874
Andrew Barker - on 09 Dec 2012
In reply to Mike Lates:

> Looking perfect for a Traverse now 'til Wednesday (or Thursday possibly). I'll give up posting on UKC if I don't hear about anyone going for it.

Any chance you could postpone the good clear weather until Saturday?! It's all happening a week too early!
Mike Lates - on 10 Dec 2012
In reply to Andrew Barker: Don't despair; Unysis makes it look like the warm air is getting pushed south still- http://www.weather.unisys.com/gfsx/gfsx.php?inv=0&plot=850&region=eu&t=9p
Snoweider - on 10 Dec 2012
In reply to Mike Lates:
Yes- it is a long way... but considering I used to live in Wales, its a bit nearer than it used to be! You get the conditions more than us, and your ridge is longer, so I enjoy reading your conditions reports, and sure one day I'll take a punt on them again.
rif on 10 Dec 2012
In reply to Mike Lates:
Yes, Alpine grades make sense for this. Those who haven't experienced the magic of the ridge in wintry conditions (see pix of the In Pinn just posted on my profile) might note that you can have great lowish-grade days by bypassing some of the difficulties: e.g. northern third of the ridge but bypass Am Basteir and the Tooth, or bypass lower part of Gillean's Pinnacle Ridge by ascending 4/5 Gully.
andybrown114 - on 10 Dec 2012
In reply to Mike Lates: Damn, damn, damn! Have Thur and Friday off and was hoping to do a Fri-Sat traverse. Maybe if I blow hard from my office window...
Mike Lates - on 10 Dec 2012
In reply to andybrown114: Drive hard wednesday night. minute by minute weather watching from here in towards the weekend.
Mike Lates - on 10 Dec 2012
In reply to Mike Lates: Had at least one scottish based single person looking for a partner for tues/wed. suggest you use a new post here rather than coming through my e-mail.
Mike Lates - on 10 Dec 2012
In reply to Southern Man: Utterly beautiful shot. Feb & March 2006 was stunning conditions.
wilkie14c - on 10 Dec 2012
In reply to Mike Lates:
Sitting here in the office reading about these condtions isn't helping my mood! Was going to nip to the lakes Tuesday night for a stretch but everything there seems to be falling down :-(
Cameron94 on 10 Dec 2012
In reply to rif: Cracking two pictures of the pinn!
jonnie3430 - on 10 Dec 2012
In reply to Mike Lates:

I can only start Tuesday night (late)/ Wednesday morning, do you think conditions would last to Thu evening?
Mike Lates - on 10 Dec 2012
In reply to jonnie3430: looking at xc- http://www.xcweather.co.uk/ i would say so. possibly some cloud but cold & low wind. possibly friday/sat too.
yr- http://www.yr.no/place/United_Kingdom/Scotland/Portree/long.html agrees at the moment too & beeb alluded to the high winning out longer than initially expected.
Nath93 - on 10 Dec 2012
In reply to Mike Lates: There's less snow about than there was this time last weekend but it was pretty good stuff I had today on Bruach na Frithe and the entire Ridge looked incredibly awesome under all that sunshine !
Mike Lates - on 10 Dec 2012
In reply to Nath93: hi nathan. good effort getting up & out there. what was the snow like? crust on top or just solid? any pictures?
Nath93 - on 10 Dec 2012
In reply to Mike Lates: Hey Mike, yeah it was a great day for it and i was quicker than I thought I would be, pretty much the same as when i done it in summer conditions.

Snow was ok, crusty in places and you would sometimes go up to your knee a bit unexpectedly but other than that it was good. Was going to descend the same way as last week but a look down into the corrie showed quite a bit of the boulder fields so I just went down Fionn Choire instead !
Mike Lates - on 10 Dec 2012
In reply to Nath93: Pretty perfectly what the Traversers want to hear but not those stuck at work. Pics would be good to see what routes are in nick for tomorrow. If you have any of Pinnacle ridge especially welcome?
Nath93 - on 10 Dec 2012
In reply to Mike Lates: I'll have a look through my pictures and see what looks best and upload them on here for anyone interested !
Nath93 - on 10 Dec 2012
In reply to Mike Lates: Awaiting approval from admin, hope they are of use to some !
Andy Moles - on 10 Dec 2012
In reply to Nath93:

Your photos are visible now, thanks for those.
Mike Lates - on 10 Dec 2012
In reply to Andy Moles: thanks for the rapid processing & even greater thanks to Nathan. Really informative; pinnacle ridge routes thin & dry; south side of gillean caked. north face of mhadaidh thin & ditto n face of mhadaidh. South facing is good! Off to pack then bed :)
Nath93 - on 10 Dec 2012
In reply to Mike Lates: No worriess, have fun tomorrow !
andybrown114 - on 11 Dec 2012
In reply to Mike Lates: I'm driving up from the south of England tomorrow lunchtime via Durham and will be making a call then on whether to head east or west and most importantly whether or not to drive all the way to Skye. I'm no Michael Fish and trying to predict what the weather will be on the Cullin is a black art at the best of times, but it looks like successive fronts coming through during Thur night and Fri. What are your thoughts Mike?
Douglas Griffin - on 11 Dec 2012
In reply to Mike Lates:

Ridge traversed in 12 hours today by "a strong team from Fort William", according to Mike Pescod on Twitter a short while ago.
AlH - on 12 Dec 2012
In reply to Douglas Griffin: Aye well done Kenny, Guy and Donald! I'm not jealous at all and wasn't glancing your way in the slightest from work in Knoydart ;-). Enjoy the rest. I'm sure there will be something up on their blogs soon! http://guysteven.blogspot.co.uk and http://www.point5mountaineering.co.uk/blog/
ads.ukclimbing.com
thegoatstroker - on 12 Dec 2012
In reply to AlH: Is that a record for a winter traverse? Amazing achievement.
Ken Applegate and Scott Kirkhope currently halfway through, having bivvied at the inn pinn. #scotwinter

Mike Lates - on 12 Dec 2012
In reply to andybrown114: What are your thoughts Mike?
Thursday ok, wind picking up but dry, probably a bit cloudy. Total gamble of setting off when you arrive tonight, lightweight packs & following the tracks could snatch it for you if you're very slick. You'll have a fantastic day anyway & Friday looks awful most of the highlands.
Friday windy, likely snowing on tops then similar for Sat & Sun. Not good for a Traverse unless you know it well given likely poor vis and steps getting filled in.
Overall its a very good forecast for an optimist for the week ahead;) XC, YR, & BBC have temps (sea-level) not forecast above the "magic" 6'C.
Realistically I wouldn't be surprised to see that creep up and met office is suggesting freezing level above the tops. Will the crest survive?- on the cusp and depends on precise line that the depressions track, effect of snow pack, wind-chill etc.
submariner - on 13 Dec 2012
In reply to Mike Lates: thanks for the info Mike. Completed it solo from Pinnacle Ridge to Gars-bheinn yesterday, and it certainly was the adventure of a lifetime - stunning.
Chadders - on 14 Dec 2012
In reply to AlH:

...but did they do a complete traverse?

"R) Sgurr nan Eag to Gars-bheinn PD 8hrs"

?????
Mike Lates - on 14 Dec 2012
In reply to Chadders: Hiya Chadders
the "R" was used to abbreviate the "round" from Glen Brittle beach.
Michael Gordon - on 14 Dec 2012
In reply to Chadders:

No, they didn't do a complete traverse. At the speed they were going at, that last bit wouldn't have taken them long either!
Michael Gordon - on 14 Dec 2012
In reply to submariner:

Wow, that's good going!

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