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Topic - Cuillin Conditions leading up to May Bank Holiday

Mike Lates - on 23 Apr 2013
Full report with pictures on Skye Guides BLOG- http://skyeguides.co.uk/blog/

As the first May bank holiday approaches rapidly snow fields in the Cuillin aren't melting very fast at all; in fact there's more snow forecast over the weekend ahead. The heavy winter has left old snow very consolidated; nearly a week of warm wet westerlies only removed a small percentage of this with north facing snow slopes appearing almost untouched.

MUNROS
Crampons will be needed for almost all of the Cuillin Munros with the exception of Sgurr na Banachdaich, Bla bheinn and Sgurr nan Eag. The In Pinn may be possible without crampons if the south facing slab to the foot of the route washes down & gets some sun over the next few days. Approach by the West Ridge of Sgurr Dearg has small snow patches but is quite well stepped.

TRAVERSES & CLASSICS

Classic routes such as the Traverse, Pinnacle Ridge, Coire Lagan will be very serious undertakings. Linking any peaks still involves a choice of adhering rigidly to the crest or scarily traversing steep snow that is sitting on the normal ledge systems; both slow work compared to ideal summer conditions. Clach Glas is almost clear of snow but the ascent to Blaven is definitely still axe & crampon terrain. Descent from the Putting Green is possible but some caution still needed in the first few hundred feet. Kings Chimney will be way preferable to Collies Ledge for a while to come. More abseils will be required than normal so extra tat should be carried. Quite a few parties have been using snow bollards for anchors too.

DESCENTS

We are choosing our objectives as carefully as possible to avoid long snowfield descents; going up snow slopes is a lot safer than going down. Particularly daunting are the Great Stone Shoot, Coire a' Bhasteir, Coire na Banachdaich and An Dorus. See the close-up shot of Great Stone Shoot http://www.ukclimbing.com/images/dbpage.html?id=218348. Be prepared to turn in and front point down for some quite long distances with ice axe likely to be in "dagger" position.

ROCK CLIMBING

South facing crags were incredibly dry and snow free until the latest rain arrived. They are likely to dry rapidly again luckily, just be careful on descents. The Cioch is clear but Eastern Gully has still got some big snow patches in and may affect choice of descent. There's always the suntraps at the coast if the hills are too cold; guidebooks for Cuillin or Seacliffs can be ordered through this website if you need them.
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