WHO WON The Race Along the Cuillin Ridge?by Michael Ryan Jul/2012
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Considering both the Outside Team of James Turnbull and Phil Applegate, and V12 Outdoor team of Gareth Aston and Jim McCormack had not done the Ridge before, their times were incredible. Although the Outside team were leading for a while, due to a navigation error, V12 got the better of them. V12 finishing with an incredible time of 7hrs 56mins, closely followed by Outside with a time of 8hrs 25mins. So the answer to the question: What was the time of the winning team?: it was 7hrs 56mins.
OK the winners of the competition are:
Lisa Draper of Aberdeen wins a Mammut Swiss sport rope. 9.5mm, 70m, with superDRY™ finish.
Darren Haynes of Sutton in Ashfield wins a Mammut Lithium Z8 donated by Outside. And;
Lisa Grant of Keyingham wins a Mammut Active Longsleeve base layer donated by V12 - Outdoor.
Thank you to everyone who entered.
During a spell of extraordinary good weather in May, two teams from Outside in Hathersage and V12 - Outdoor in Llanberis raced along the Cuillin Ridge taking part in Mammut's 150th birthday celebrations, The Peak Project. They also climbed perhaps Scotland's best VS, one of the team took a big fall off an E6, they posed about on the Cioch and in the evening tasted one of Scotland's finest single malts, Talisker.
Below is a photo-rich report of the trip and a COMPETITION for you to enter. The question is: What was the time of the winning team?
Mammut's heritage stretches back to 1862 when Kasper Tanner began making rope at his house in the small Swiss village of Dinitikon. 150 years later and the Mammut Sports Group is a global company employing over 350 people, with subsidiaries and sales teams all over the world. Ropes are still at the core of their business and are still made in Switzerland, but as you probably know they produce the whole range of equipment for fun - and safety - in the mountains and on the rocks.
This year being their 150th anniversary, they have had a bit of a global birthday party. Last August UKC's Paul Phillips went to the Jungfraujoch to take part in the opening event of what Mammut call "The Biggest Peak Project in History". Paul got the chance to summit the Mönch, lucky bugger. (Paul's report).
The Peak Project has been a year-long project involving mountain ascents around the world. By August 2012, 150 summits will have been climbed from Mount McKinley (6,194 m) in Alaska to Denmark's controversial highest peak Møllehøj at a towering 170m.
So what could Mammut UK come up with to celebrate their birthday? An ascent of Ben Nevis? Nope. They decided on the UK's most well known alpine challenge, Scotland's Cuillin Ridge on the Isle of Skye, but with a twist.
Rob Sykes from Mammut UK invited two climbers from V12 - Outdoor in Llanberis and two from Outside in Hathersage to race along the ridge, the contestants had to have no experience of the ridge, had to do it chalkless, with no fixed lines and with not a drop of Red Bull in sight! Rob found four willing victims who you will be familiar with if you visit these two independent outdoor shops: The V12 Outdoor team was Gareth Aston and Jim McCormack, the Outside team was James Turnbull and Phil Applegate.
Each team, for insurance purposes would be accompanied by a guide; Terry Ralphs would join the Outside team and Dougal Taverner the V12 team. Also along for the ride were Dan Bailey, UKHillwalking.com Editor and myself.
Dan went because he knows the ridge well and is basically a bit of an anorak about Scottish hills in general, having written several guidebooks on them (including a Cuillin Traverse description, naturally); and me, well I got invited because I'm fairly good at putting my camera setting on automatic, pushing the shutter and hopefully keeping the horizon level.
We all met Monday evening at the Old Inn at Carbost on the shores of Loch Harport, our accommodation for the week, and decided over beers to go for the ridge first thing in the morning. At 4am Rob would accompany the two teams to the Glen Brittle campsite then return for a leisurely breakfast after which Rob, Dan and myself would climb Pinnacle Ridge to the summit of Sgurr nan Gillean, the finishing point of the race, to meet the two teams.
The race was to be timed from Gars-bheinn in the South to Sgurr nan Gillean in the North, about 8km in length visiting 11 Munro summits. The record for this traverse was set by Es Tresidder in 3 hrs 17 minutes and 28 seconds, but most people try to do the Ridge in a long day or two shorter days with a bivvy.
It was an exciting and satisfying day for both teams, and Rob, Dan and myself didn't have to wait long on the summit of Sgurr nan Gillean before we spotted both parties.
Below are two accounts of the day by Phil and Gareth, read them to find out who 'won' and we are running a competition (see below) where you have to find the winning team's time. Also below is a gallery of photographs from the rest of the week, climbing at the beautiful sea cliff of Suidhe Biorach, scrambling up Pinnacle Ridge and doing some of the classic the mountain routes of Sron na Ciche.
As we descended Sgurr Dubh Mor we passed within 20m of team V12 on their way up. We tried to hide and move stealthily so that they couldn't see where we had been. A slight navigational error saw us on a huge flat boulder with no way to descend other than retrace our last few steps. V12 saw this and shouted some banter up at us. We were moving well and were soon abseiling in to the TD Gap, which requires a Hard Severe pitch on the north side to negotiate. The climbing itself was brilliant and involved getting whole limbs jammed into the wide crack. Just as we set off after the Gap the others abbed into it. Soon Sgurr Alasdair and Sgurr Thearlaich were under our belts but despite this Sgurr nan Gillean never seemed to get any closer.
Descending Thearlaich, a group in front were kind enough to let us use their ropes to abseil which saved us some time and then it was up King's Chimney, a fantastic bit of climbing (Diff) before a long and draining slog up the Brown ramp to the base of the famous Inaccessible Pinnacle. My energy levels were low at the point, having been on the move for over 6 hours so I scoffed some food and took on some water. We set of up the Inn Pinn moving together on the best Mod climb I've ever encountered just a head of several other teams and abbed off the back. I was in need of a rest and so we took this opportunity to take a few and take on board some fuel. Read Phil's full report.
Emerging at the top of the gap it became obvious that we had not actually made any time up on the others as they were just disappearing over Sgurr Thearlaich, the fifth peak having already bagged Sgurr Alasdair.
Again we chose to remove the harnesses and pushed on after our quarry. It was a mixture of steep uphill rock steps punctuated by small sections of scrambling, the detour to Sgurr Alasdair was only minutes, and we soon found ourselves descending to Thearlaich where once again we spotted Outside pushing on out of the Kings Chimney (V Diff). There was another team between them and us just reaching the bottom of the route and I was thinking we were going to get held up quite severely. However, Dougal got to them first and explained the situation, they then kindly allowed us to go ahead of them as they had already heard of the race and were keen to help out.
Read Gareth's full report
In this competition we have three great prizes donated by Mammut, V12 - Outdoor and Outside. All you have to do is answer the question below by 1st August.
First prize is: A limited anniversary edition of the Mammut Swiss sport rope. 9.5mm, 70m, superDRY™ finish (£169.99).
- This competition is only open to registered users at UKClimbing.com and UKHillwalking.com.
- Competition closes on Wednesday 1st August at 09.00 GMT.
- The winners will be chosen at random from the correct entries.
- The winners will be notified by email.
- Prizes will only be posted to a UK or Ireland address.
- The winners' names will be announced on UKC/UKH and facebook.com/UKClimbing
The day after the ridge race we visited Suidhe Biorach a sandstone sea cliff about 1km south of Elgol, on the south-west coast of Skye. There are around 30 routes here from VS to E6. Access is by a straightforward abseil to ledges at sea level or traversing in at low tide. Classics include Hairy Mary and Jamie Jampot both VS, then the best routes are in the low E's with some superb harder routes like the intimidating Mother's Pride E4 5c and Rapid Learning Curve E6 6b. Suidhe Biorach is a beautiful cliff - don't be put off by the hairy lichen covering the rock - with positive holds and generally good protection. Hairy Mary is worth the visit alone and some have commented that it is perhaps the best VS in Scotland! It looks about E2 and has a big feel but as you set off generous holds and great protection reveal themselves.
After Suidhe Biorach it was back into the mountains. The gabbro of Sron na Ciche in Coire Lagan is a joy to climb on and this complex mountain crag offers many classics and beautiful routes of most grades. You are in the mountains with the Cuillin Ridge towering above you and superb views down to Glen Brittle and Loch Brittle. It's hard to imagine a better place than this for mountain routes in the UK.
We split up into several teams doing such routes as Cioch West (Severe), Cioch Grooves HVS, Bastinado E2 5c, Overhanging Crack E2 5c, and Arrow Route Direct (Severe), and then all meeting on the Cioch for photographs.
One highlight of the day was being chased up Cioch West by Barbara Charlton and her husband Morris, their banter between themselves and us had us in fits of laughter.
On the day of the ridge race, Rob Sykes, Dan Bailey and myself met the teams on the summit of Sgurr nan Gillean which we gained by doing Pinnacle Ridge. Pinnacle Ridge leads to the summit of Sgurr nan Gillean and is a long and complex climb-scramble (difficulties up to Diff) that overcomes four pinnacles by good route finding and plenty of exposure. We took a rope for the abseil off the third pinnacle, and also used a rope in a couple of spots were the exposure was great and the rock wet from recent snow melt.
The Cuillin Ridge Traverse by Dan Bailey
The Cuillin Ridge Traverse is the greatest mountaineering adventure in the British Isles, bar none. It might even be one of the best ridge routes in the world. It's like a classic Alpine day but transposed to a wild seaside setting, with 11km of rough rocky ground, relentlessly exposed scrambling, several pitches of graded rock climbing, tricky route finding, an abseil or two and of course the challenge of the Hebridean weather.
Most parties probably fail on their first attempt, with route finding, rain and mist, brain numbing exposure and complicated logistics all playing a part. Fitness, endurance and tactics are as important to success as climbing ability. A bit of forward planning goes a long way, so here are some resources to get you started.
Guidebooks and Map
Whatever the weather a trip to Skye is never wasted but of course is best when the weather co-operates, and better if sunny and warm so you can go for a dip and a dive in the Fairy Pools, essential after being on the Ridge or when being bugged by midges. Thanks to Mammut, Mammut UK and especially Rob Sykes for organising this Mammut birthday trip and giving us the opportunity to enjoy some of the delights of Skye in excellent company.
Since this trip both Rob Sykes and Dougal Taverner have broken bones whilst climbing. We wish them a speedy recovery and rehabilitation.
Senior Editor UKC and UKH.