Tuesday, 21 May 2013

The Lochan Traverse of Coire Lagan

 "The Lochan Traverse" (Mod*) takes a diagonal line across the cliff, starting beneath the obvious white slab.


The cloud was down and the drizzle was starting, the hints of warmth brought by last week were absent, and things felt all very different to how they usually do when I'm starting a climbing day in the Cuillin.

But I am here to get to know Skye more intimately, surely that should involve experiencing the Cuillin the way they are so much of the time?


The North ridge of Sgurr Sgumain
 
 The Cioch in the mist

With all thoughts of a challenging solo put firmly to one side, for the first time ever I entered a Cuillin corrie with an open mind, not fixed and concentrated on a particular objective as I always have been in the past. It was fairly clear the weather was entirely in command this morning.

As the cloud descended even lower to 500m, my tracks turned towards "The Lochan Traverse" (Mod*) - a diagonal split between two layers of gabbro that crosses the West Buttress of Sgurr Sgumain. But even this low down in the corrie, I wasn't going to escape the fog for very long.


 The start of the Lochan Traverse

Looking back down the fold

A wet and slippery start and a few awkward moves, but a good choice for a foggy day that was starting to feel really quite cold. I like the way that so many routes in the Cuillin follow the endless splits and faults and breaks and sudden changes in geology that define the mountain range…natural passageways through threatening and serious places.

 

 Inside the split in the fog

A team on Arrow Route

I am struggling to think of anywhere I've been more interesting in the fog than Skye's mountains, be it the demented cliffs of Trotternish or the noble buttresses of the Cuillin. As if they aren't complicated enough, the fog reveals them to be even more convoluted than you thought. Is there anywhere with more character per square mile?

James

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