/ Cuillin Conditions leading up to May Bank Holiday

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Mike Lates - on 23 Apr 2013
Full report with pictures on Skye Guides 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.

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.


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.


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 Be prepared to turn in and front point down for some quite long distances with ice axe likely to be in "dagger" position.


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.
drunken monkey - on 23 Apr 2013
In reply to Mike Lates: Thats a LOT more snow than I was expecting to see in Skye in April!
Nathan Adam - on 23 Apr 2013
In reply to Mike Lates: And there was me thinking everything had been washed out last week ! Looking forward to some time on the ridge this weekend, maybe see you out and about !
Mike Lates - on 23 Apr 2013
In reply to Nath93: Better news for those after some snow free times today; Snow-field down into Coire a Bhasteir had softened to sugar consistency. Hopefully some tracks may get laid before it all goes solid again. Snowing on top but not setling yet. I'll put a couple more shots onto the Blog
Joak - on 23 Apr 2013
In reply to Mike Lates:
Aye conditions caught me out a wee bit at the weekend Mike. Set of to help a female pal bag Sgurr a Mhadaidh and Sgurr a Ghreadaidh. Low cloud, with rain turning to snow at 600m, thick clag, strong winds. Cramponing up towards An Dorus, no rope, no gear, no way, we turned around and headed back down. Due to the low cloud obscuring the snow fields we carried axe and crampons as a "precaution" Haha! On the plus side the stormy conditions helped me and a mate fill a wee gap in our complex Cuillin jigsaw with a wee low level walk up Glen Sligachan and Harta Coire towards Lota Coire. What an awesome place!
Mike Lates - on 25 Apr 2013
In reply to Joak: Here's what you would have found-
Awesome as you say!
BnB - on 25 Apr 2013
In reply to Mike Lates: Damn. I had planned to visit home on Sleat this week but postponed owing to a forecast of wet and windy for the week. What an idiot!! Conditions look great fun.

Snow will have gone by my rearranged visit in 10 days I fear.
Mike Lates - on 28 Apr 2013
In reply to BnB: New blog
up but didn't comment on conditions yet so here goes-
Old snow pack started to go off on Thursday but top 100m of An Dorus rock hard on Fri. Softening again Saturday. Fresh building up on the old snow but reasonably well bonded.
Fresh snow each day added interest to the ridges; quite good quantities actually made far more pleasant than expected with mostly good footings rather than squealing on rocks.
Overall you do need crampons for any of the narrower sections of Ridge for sure. Easier peaks & slopes may be okay just now but beware days following clear sky nights.
Full Traverse looking very improbable for a wee while yet...
wilkie14c - on 28 Apr 2013
In reply to Mike Lates:
Hey Mike

Jaala and I are planning on coming up for 5 days at the end on May, camping at GB. Not climbing but will be out walking/scrambling. She wants to get the boat across and walk glen slighan so need some transport advice, will email you off forum. See you soon! <its your round BTW>

Mike Lates - on 28 Apr 2013
In reply to blanchie14c: I guess I could open up the wallet for a wedding present ;-)
Offwidth - on 29 Apr 2013
In reply to Mike Lates:

Superb info as ever.
drsdave - on 02 May 2013
In reply to Mike Lates:

Mike Lates, as echoed thanks for bothering to inform us.

Milesy - on 02 May 2013
Any ideas how things are looking now and with weekend forecast?

I have no idea what to pack yet lol B3s and G12s or B1s and G10s. Winter Softshells/Hardshells or summer trousers and a pair of waterproof!
Mike Lates - on 02 May 2013
In reply to Milesy: Fresh snow down to 150m today and quite a lot. Did Thearlaich on Tuesday from Bealach Mhiccoinnich (wasn't going anywhere near Collie's ledge or Kings Chimney!). We touched rock for about 20 steps the whole way & abbed into the Stone Shoot. The top 100m of most of these big slopes of old snow have still got some hardness and a bit worrying.
Clach Glas/Blaven was crampon free yesterday. I'll update the blog with recent pics some point this afternoon.

I've been in G10's but on B3 boots but G12's would be better. Carrying lots of clothes on approach but using them! Mixed routes on Thearlaich looked A1 yestersday choked with fresh ice!
Nathan Adam - on 02 May 2013
In reply to Milesy: Bring "proper" waterproofs, its been pissing down since half 8 this morning, and like Mike say's, the routes are still in winter nick.

Been feeling a bit ill since easter so not been out for a while, hopefully this weekend.
Milesy - on 02 May 2013
In reply to Mike Lates:

Thanks Mike. Is 150m a typo I take it?
Milesy - on 02 May 2013
Thanks. I hate packing for fickle weather haha. I like it to be clearly winter or clearly summer
BnB - on 02 May 2013
In reply to Milesy: I'm planning on coming up to Skye next week and everytime I look at Metcheck it's a whole new weather pattern they're predicting.

Guess it'll be the full kit bag: winter, summer and shoulder season gear.
Milesy - on 02 May 2013
Stuff it. A pair of jeans and I am going to spend the weekend at the Talisker distillery lol
Mike Lates - on 02 May 2013
In reply to Milesy:
> (In reply to Mike Lates)
> Thanks Mike. Is 150m a typo I take it?

Nope & it is bucketing!
Mike Lates - on 06 May 2013
In reply to Mike Lates: Wee update of thoughts on conditions leading up to next weekend 11/12th-
the current poor weather is needed to strip out the snow so good news for some but not for those here today;-(
i'm hopeful that crampons will be carried but unused by friday but cooler temperatures are still threatened from thursday. the thaw just now will be helpful but is unlikely to get rid of all the snow on banked out bypasses, particularly on the northern aspects (mainly pinnacle ridge, collie's ledge, ghreadaidh & thearlaich) .
the full traverse is likely to still be too serious & time consuming for the vast majority of aspirants.
the in pinn should be clear, the west ridge & descent slab approach mostly so too but not guaranteed. the slabby descent below the pinn down the an stac bypass is very banked out still & may be scary in descent in particular.
a bit of spring sun would make things fine in a couple of days so i'm not pessemistic- been a great winter but it's time to step aside!
Mike Lates - on 07 May 2013
In reply to Mike Lates: The clear-out of snow is better than I'd hoped. Collies Ledge is now passable, Thearlaich OK by the Lagan side bypass, Coire a' Ghreadaidh round far less worrying. Only Pinnacle Ridge remains a serious snowy outing but now exciting rather than suicidal
skippyridgway - on 13 May 2013
In reply to Mike Lates: Hi guys - any updates on the ridge as current?
Nathan Adam - on 13 May 2013
In reply to skippyridgway: Fresh snow last night, could see from the house this morning. Freezing level is pretty low as well, winter looks like its hanging on a bit yet.
Mike Lates - on 14 May 2013
In reply to skippyridgway: Ridges just got smattering of hail & snow. Old patches to worry about are still An Dorus (Lou was glad of crampons on Sunday), Bealach a Bhasteir approach (update tonight) and a tiny section just below the Pinn on An Stac bypass.
Pinnacle Ridge of Gillean will still be thought provoking & cramps wise.
Dubh Ridge is fine. Crossing bealach na Banachdaich to descend into Coruisk (for Dubhs) isn't a good idea yet without cramps.
CG Blaven fine.
Traverse now pretty much "normal" and we're going for our first ones of the season Fri/Sat.

Plenty to go for.
Pero - on 14 May 2013
In reply to Mike Lates: It's a pity it's not like this every year. The only thing in the UK better than the Cuillin Ridge is the Cuillin Ridge under snow and ice!
ColdAndWet - on 17 May 2013
Hi All

Can anyone provide an update on the ridge conditions? Essentially has all the snow gone such that if the weather is dry will the ridge be in summer conditions this coming week?


AlH - on 17 May 2013

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