Walking in to climb a route without carrying ice axes or crampons… it felt un-natural after a 6 month long winter. Climbing with just hands and feet, how does that work again? But where better to quickly remind yourself than on the immaculate rock of the Cuillin?
A and B Buttresses are towards the left of centre-frame.
The Storr in the early morning sunshine.
The Clach Glas - Blabheinn Traverse skyline - a superb route, the best Diff in Britain?
I headed to the Southern Buttresses of Blabheinn's SE Ridge yesterday morning to kickstart my summer climbing season and remind myself that I do indeed know how to move on rock. Only a couple of days ago it was looking like low pressure had set in solidly in the North-West - I really had no expectations to be climbing any time soon. How rapidly things can change out here…sunshine warm enough to warrant only a t-shirt, and dry rock in plentiful supply on South facing corries.
Plenty of dry rock on South and East facing lower buttresses.
I have been extremely lucky over the last few years with many many sightings of golden eagles, some of them remarkably close (the closest was at a distance of perhaps only 12 feet away, last year above Glen Etive). But yesterday morning might have been my most memorable…I stood transfixed as a pair of eagles flew straight over the route I was about to climb, only a few yards above my head, turning and twisting in the air above me.
One of a pair of golden eagles that flew only a few yards above my head
Sgurr nan Gillean's Pinnacle Ridge.
You can't fail to have a memorable day with something like that to go on, and I started up the first Moderate slabs of A Buttress with a spring in my step. Climbing on rock didn't feel remotely awkward as I feared it might after a long winter of snow and ice climbs, and I found myself seeking out the most difficult line throughout the route just for the pleasure of it.
The crux of A Buttress (Diff*) takes the central crack line.
B Buttress (Mod*)
The Cuillin Ridge from near to the summit
No second thoughts were needed to decide to descend after A Buttress and climb its longer neighbour as well, and I was rewarded with another sighting of one of the eagles, perched close by on a boulder with a view over the whole Cuillin Ridge.