Friday, 17 July 2009

Three days in Skye

We have now returned from our holiday in Skye, and despite questionable weather on the first two days, we had an amazing time! Our campsite for the trip was the Glen Brittle site, on the beach and beneath the towering Cuillin. On the first day we pottered up into Coire Laggan, playing on the boulders as we went, but climbed nothing of consequence due to the low cloud and threat of rain.

The second day was similarly iffy, so we headed North towards the Trotternish escarpments and the crag of Carn Liath. This surprising crag is home to a deep cave which we explored, searching for a VDiff route called Mummy's Church. The torchlit exploration of the cave was fantastic: it had several deep passages, the main one leading to a steep abseil at the bottom of which was a chamber illuminated by shafts of light from above. Apart from an ancient rusty piton, it really felt like delving into unknown! Our route followed the back wall of the chamber, bridging up between the walls of the cave towards a narrow skylight nearly a hundred feet above.

Isi attempted the lead, but it was cold in the cave and her hands became too numb to feel the rock. I then tied in and led the pitch myself, finding it tricky at one point but well-protected. Loose rock and slime added to the exploratory atmosphere, and after much struggling I emerged back into the light at the top of the cave. Isi and Rachael followed without difficulty. A highly unusual route all round, one of the best short routes I have done in ages!

The following day seemed more promising, weather-wise, so we headed to Sligachan with the intention of climbing the Pinnacle Ridge of Sgurr nan Gillean, one of the best mountaineering routes in the country. It proved to be everything we hoped it would be: sustained, committing, yet easy enough to enjoy (we did not even have to rope up). In character it was very much an Alpine route that would not be out of place on a peak above Chamonix or Zermatt. One particularly sensational abseil added a touch of seriousness to the outing. We summitted Sgurr nan Gillean to be rewarded by perfect views and an uncomplicated descent down the normal route--a rock climb in its own right, although easy.

Our trip to Skye was a great success, and we now have many ideas for future visits, not to mention the beginnings of an epic plan for the Alps next summer.

Photos from Skye

1 comment:

  1. Hi Alex.

    My wife and I are planning to do the Pinnacle Ridge of Sgurr nan Gillean when we arrive in a couple of weeks. I am planning to bring my 100ft rope for the abseil off the third pinnacle and am wondering whether or not that is long enough. Any information is much appreciated.