/ Cuillin Ridge This next week... am I deluded?

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TheGeneralist - on 29 Jun 2017
I've been following the weather forecast for most of the last two months and it has nearly always been pants. Next week is the last week I have off, and so my final chance to do the ridge this year.
I keep telling myself that Wednesday and Friday (5&7 July) look ok as there is less than 1mm of rain per 3 hours forecast.
https://www.metcheck.com/WEATHER/16days.asp?zipcode=portree&locationID=61201&lat=57.4&lo...
But that's in Portree. My normal instincts would tell me that if is slightly wet in Portree then it'll be miserable and pissy on the cuillin all week.
But then again you do get odd good days.

Please give me your views (baseless or informed) on whether it's worth considering the 8 hour slog from Manchester or whether I should just head to Pembroke for some DWS.

(Will also be MTBing in Torridon if possible>
1
MischaHY - on 30 Jun 2017
In reply to TheGeneralist:

I guess the question is this; are you in a rush to do it? Good things come to those who wait. Go get some DWS done and wait for a perfect weather window. That's my two pence!
BnB - on 30 Jun 2017
In reply to TheGeneralist:

I spend 10 weeks a year on Skye and wouldn't attempt a ridge traverse in that forecast. Not saying it would be impossible, just not particularly pleasant.
1
JohnnyW - on 30 Jun 2017
In reply to BnB:

Agreed
Trangia on 30 Jun 2017
In reply to TheGeneralist:
Cloud base level is the important factor. Rain and wind are unpleasant, but not beeing able to see very far ahead is a real issue when it comes to trying to navigate. Navigation on the Ridge is notoriously difficult with numerous false side ridges which can lead you off the main ridge thus wasting time and energy. This is compounded by magnetic compasses being unreliable up there.
Post edited at 07:51
Fiona Reid - on 30 Jun 2017
In reply to TheGeneralist:

You'll enjoy it a lot more if you wait for decent weather. Not being able to see where you're going makes a massive difference.

We did the traverse in May and the forecast was pretty good. It was meant to be cloudy first thing and then clear. It did clear but somewhat later than we'd expected (we chatted to a guide who'd also expected it to clear) and we lost at least an hour ascending Sgurr Sgumain in error on route to Sgurr Alasdair.

It's a stunning day out and definitely one best kept for good weather.
Mark Collins - on 30 Jun 2017
In reply to TheGeneralist:

I wouldn't bother if I were you. My feeling is that what's going on in Portree is often a World away from what's going on in the Cuillin. I use these links to decide whether or not its worth making a trip up there to attempt the ridge or not:
http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/public/weather/forecast/gf5t6q7d2#?fcTime=1462752000&date=2017-07-05
http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/public/weather/surface-pressure/#?tab=surfacePressureColour&fcTime=1...
Cuillin Ridge Traverse (VD)
http://www.metcheck.com/UK/today.asp?zipcode=Sgurr%20Alasdair%20(South%20Face)&locationID=67933&...
https://www.facebook.com/groups/345833125602252/permalink/484300298422200/

Its kinda sad I know, but I have stored screen shots of reasonable forecasts from these sites in the past to see if anyone logs ascents in the UKC logbook afterwards. People also sometimes comment on the weather in the log, so this process can give you a good feel for what's required from the weather.
Jamie B - on 30 Jun 2017
In reply to TheGeneralist:

http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/public/weather/forecast/gf5td1uud#?date=2017-07-02

Doesn't look like a Traverse forecast to me..

TheGeneralist - on 01 Jul 2017
In reply to all:

Wow, amazing responses from everyone. Really appreciate it. I'm amazed how cold the forecast is for it to be during the day up top. Only just above freezing really.

Forecast seems to be getting better slowly, so I'll be watching avidly over the next two days.

Should anyone wish to provide further comment, info, opinion or general encouragement then feel free ...
bearman68 - on 02 Jul 2017
In reply to TheGeneralist:

Wait for an Easterly wind, as this means it will be dryer and less cloudy in the West. As others have said, it's a terrific day out and such a shame to be slogging along in poor visibility. Leave aside the increase in risk in poor weather, it's just not nice.
Did it last time we (me and my wife) were in Skye, June 15th 2002.
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peter.herd - on 02 Jul 2017
In reply to TheGeneralist:
Jee... doom and gloom! Id give it a punt Tuesday. Cool northerlies, dry and sunny. When the weather is changeable as now i wouldnt bother with long term forecasts for the Cuillin - your looking for a 24-48 hr window ideally preceded by some dry weather.. Regardless of whether you reach the end etc, time on the ridge is time well spent. No idea where you get the 'pants weather for the last 2 months' thing- May was fantastic! Bon voyage
Post edited at 23:17
Joak - on 03 Jul 2017
In reply to peter.herd:
> No idea where you get the 'pants weather for the last 2 months' thing- May was fantastic! Bon voyage

You and me both bud ref the "pants weather...". I enjoyed a couple of outings on the Cuillin ridge in the merry month of May. One at the start of the month, again at the end of the month. Weather and conditions for both were about as good as it gets. A timely fall of fresh snow added an icing to the scenic cake at the beginning of May. Elsewhere on my travels, burns, rivers and reservoir levels were very low, with ground conditions tinder dry..... I hate to say it, and will go on to regret it, but I was kinda relieved when "normal services" resumed...it jist wisnae Scottish.
Post edited at 00:52
TheGeneralist - on 03 Jul 2017
In reply to Peter Herd:


> Jee... doom and gloom! Id give it a punt Tuesday.

Wahey, Peter for president. Alas my kid has a hospital appointment on Tuesday but I'm planning on driving up after that and giving the ridge a crack on Wednesday. Tuesday does indeed look beautiful, and I'm hoping Wednesday should be ok.


> No idea where you get the 'pants weather for the last 2 months

> You and me both bud ref the "pants weather

Woah, I was very careful to say that the weather forecast was pants, not the weather. I'm fully aware that the BBC powers that be and the Met Office probably couldn't spell Port Righ let alone find it on the map. I've often wondered if they just do a blanket "drizzel followed by rain and occasional sunny spells" forecast for anything north of Watford.

My post was basically asking whether people thought it was worth a bash despite the previously poor forecast. And you obviously do, so that's excellent.
(and the weather forecast has changed too)

Feeling much cheerier
Simon Caldwell - on 03 Jul 2017
In reply to peter.herd:

> No idea where you get the 'pants weather for the last 2 months' thing- May was fantastic!

Not the week that we were there , when the southern half of the ridge was almost permanently in the clag. None of our group tried the traverse, but at least 6 others did, none got further than half way before calling it day.
TheGeneralist - on 09 Jul 2017
In reply to TheGeneralist:
Wow, just wow.

Absolutely fabulous. The dry weather on Tuesday put the ridge in absolutely stonking bone dry conditions for Wednesday. Left Manc at noon and was parked up by 11pm.
Got up at 5 on Wednesday and on my way by 6.
Pain in the arse doin the first two peaks twice, but allegedly better than going up the Gars Bheinn screes.
Took too much water, about 6kg in all. LOL
TD gap went ok in rock boots and chalk bag ;-) Ripped big chunks out of my new lightweight rucksack hauling it up.
Put the rock boots on again for Kings Chimney, but climbed with the sack this time. Is KC the best single pitch Diff in the world? It seemed like it to me.
An Stac was quite fun, though very loose. Remind me never to walk up the screes below it ever again.
Bit fried at the Inn Pin, so baulked at the long scary easy routes. Did the short severe instead. Many thanks to the bloke that quickly belayed me.
Couldn't find the route on Mhadaidh for ages. Ended up going along some ledge of doom for too long. Knocked some rocks off, which went long long way. Eventually I concluded that if there was a path for the first 4 metres and no path from 5metres then the route must head up the cliff at 4.5 metres. And indeed it was so.
Got to Basteir about 9pm completely fried. No way I would ever solo Naismiths so started up the mod alternative. But I found it scary, alone, after having soloed almost everything else. Wisely I backed off defeated at the last hurdle.
I desperately headed down to the Basteir/Gillean coll with the intention of climbing all the way back up Basteir. But when I climbed down I could see that the col was cliffed out..
But I did see a bit of a weakness on the buttress itself so set off up there in the growing gloom. Then I saw sense and turned round, then I changed my mind and went back up. There seemed to be a good route up and eventually to my delight I arrived at the tooth/Am interface.
Bagged the tooth, headed up Am Basteir and then down to the coll.
Unloaded all my excess kit and took emergency kit only up Gillean at about 10pm. No problems up or down and I finally made it !!
The descent from the coll took around 4hrs to the car, then another half hour back to Glen Brittle. Just to make things utterly perfect it started raining on the cycle back. Just to let me know just how bad it could have been (the weather had been glorious all day)

I was really chuffed to do the full ridge on my own in pretty good style without any real pre-inspection. And the walk in and walk/cycle back to the starting point without a second vehicle. Ridge took 13 hours. In and out took an additional 7 hours.

Pissed with rain the next day, so I did very little. Then did a 50km classic Torridon mtb on Friday and Cairngorm/ Ben Macdui mtb ride on Saturday.
Then drove home.

Absolutely fecking awesome.

thanks for all your input
Post edited at 22:40
Michael Gordon - on 10 Jul 2017
In reply to TheGeneralist:

Well done, a day to remember! And yes, King's Chimney is one of the best diffs around.
veteye on 10 Jul 2017
In reply to TheGeneralist:

I am jealously pleased for you. You obviously hit the weather just right.
My problem is getting time off to head to Skye, and maybe yours would have been too after this period. You just got it in in time as I understand it. Well done.
Mark Collins - on 10 Jul 2017
In reply to TheGeneralist:

Congratulations and thanks for feeding back.
DundeeDave - on 10 Jul 2017
In reply to TheGeneralist:
Great stuff, very impressed.
Just curious, how did you find getting from the Tooth onto Am Bastier on your own? I've only done it once and we used Victorian 'combined' tactics!
Post edited at 13:29
TheGeneralist - on 10 Jul 2017
In reply to DundeeDave:

> how did you find getting from the Tooth onto Am Bastier on your own?

Found it fine to be honest. But bear in mind I'd just scrambled a good portion of the way from Bealach Bhasteir back up Am Bhasteir to get to that point. On the scramble up I wasn't at all sure if I was about to get cliffed out and whether I'd be ok scrambling down again in the growing dusk if I couldn't get up.

I was so elated at getting up that I wasn't going to worry too much about it. I was conscious that it was reasonably steep and exposed (roof like as AH describes it) but I think I walked down it rather than bum shuffling like I did on some other parts of the ridge.

Sorry, just realised that you probably mean the last section of scrambling up Am Bhasteir rather than the shuffle off the Tooth. Yes, the route did seem a bit strange, but it went ok.

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TheGeneralist - on 10 Jul 2017
In reply to veteye:

> You obviously hit the weather just right.
Yep, for once. Had my fair share of shit Scotland trips, so good to get the weather just right.

The weird thing was that the weather was perfect for 5 days, not just one.

Tuesday dried everything off completely.
Wednesday was cool and clear for the ridge.
Thursday was pissy wet drizzle, perfect for a lie in till 2pm followed by a brief pissy cycle and pub meal in the Sligachan.
Friday was beautiful weather in Torridon for the mega classic mtb loop. Then drove across to Aviemore on wet roads.
Saturday was stunning weather in the Cairngorms for a cycle up Ben Macdui.
Then Sunday was forecast to be pissy again, but I wasn't bothered as I was back in Manc by then.
Somerset swede basher - on 10 Jul 2017
In reply to TheGeneralist:

Well done. Sounds brilliant.
TheGeneralist - on 11 Jul 2017
In reply to TheGeneralist:
> Got to Basteir about 9pm completely fried. No way I would ever solo Naismiths so started up the mod alternative. But I found it scary, alone, after having soloed almost everything else. Wisely I backed off defeated at the last hurdle.
> I desperately headed down to the Basteir/Gillean coll with the intention of climbing all the way back up Basteir. > But when I climbed down I could see that the col was cliffed out..
> But I did see a bit of a weakness on the buttress itself so set off up there in the growing gloom. Then I saw sense and turned round, then I changed my mind and went back up. There seemed to be a good route up and eventually to my delight I arrived at the tooth/Am interface.

Just found this old thread on UKC. Looks like I made the same mistake as many other people have and narrowly avoided a very nasty situation. Thank goodness I did back off.

https://www.ukclimbing.com/forums/t.php?t=359628

I've re-read the description in Hyslop's guide and it is really vague.
Post edited at 11:16
Fiona Reid - on 11 Jul 2017
In reply to TheGeneralist:
Well done. It's a really brilliant day out. Really glad the weather worked out for you
Post edited at 14:38
Michael Gordon - on 11 Jul 2017
In reply to TheGeneralist:

This post from "Bob M" (from that thread) pretty much describes it:

"I did the Lota Corrie route a couple of weeks ago. As others have said, you need to go descend a long way from the Bealach nan Lice. It's an easy angled gully with slabs on its left, very obvious when you get there, and certainly no more than Mod."

I'm actually surprised folk have so much trouble finding this. I guess, like the Eastern Traverse On Tower Ridge, a good mantra is if you aren't sure then keep going!
TheGeneralist - on 13 Jul 2017
In reply to Michael Gordon:

> I'm actually surprised folk have so much trouble finding this. I guess, like the Eastern Traverse On Tower Ridge, a good mantra is if you aren't sure then keep going!

Hmmm, interesting to contrast the two places where I had problems...

From the Rockfax Guide to the 3 tops of Mhadaidh:
The first top looks horrendous direct but can be passed by a path on the right, then ascend directly to the main ridge.

From the Rockfax Guide to the Bhasteir Tooth:
Descend a stone shoot below the Tooth to the south east. Look for a break in the rock barrier on the left wall of the shoot. Attain this and follow a steep ramp back up to join the basalt chimney just before the summit.

I spent ages on Mhadaih trying to find where this path on the right went. I could see the first 10m or so of it but the spent ages on a ledge of double doom trying to find where it went. In actual fact it had scuttled up the cliff after those mere 10 m.

I don't have the map handy, but am guessing the Bhasteir bypass must be a couple of hundred metres horizontal and perhaps 70m descent.

There's nothing in either description to suggest how for you divert. After making the mistake of going too far on Mhadaidh, it's not surprising that I (and many others) made the mistake of not going far enough on Bhasteir.

> good mantra is if you aren't sure then keep going

I did this on Mhadaidh and it nearly ended in disaster.

> I'm actually surprised folk have so much trouble finding this
Can you recall the first time you did it? Were you on your own or with someone else who had done it? Were there other climbers on the route? Don't forget that the description should be targeted at someone who hasn't been there before and doesn't know where it goes. Many people fall into the trap of thinking a guidebook description is spot on as they know the area well and they mold the description to what they know. The number of people on that other thread (topic) and the existence of that thread (abseil) suggests that the description is somewhat lacking.
Michael Gordon - on 13 Jul 2017
In reply to TheGeneralist:
Well if you will use Rockfax... I can't speak for their description as I've only used the area guides and Skye Scrambles (and before that, 'Black Cuillin') . I'm not saying there isn't room for improvement in the descriptions; obviously there is if folk are going wrong.

When I first did Lota Coire Route it was in descent after soloing down the short steep wall from Am Bastier to the tooth. So to be fair I admit route finding was probably easier as a result of first doing it that way.
Post edited at 17:29

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