Sunday, 26 May 2013

West Buttress of An Casteal and Tuppenny Buttress

West Buttress of An Casteal. Grade 3 to V.Diff climbing depending on exact line taken.
 
Big, heavy drops of rain falling from a sky that was blue and clear only minutes before. Sigh…at least it had waited until I was on an easier section of the ridge crest than a few moments before.

For the last two days my main aim was to climb again in unfamiliar parts of the Cuillin but to keep an open mind as to what to do. The two routes I ended up climbing were very different but both equally enjoyable for different reasons, and both in places I'd never climbed before.

An Casteal was until this afternoon one of the only remaining sections of the main ridge that I'd never stood on, something I was eager to rectify. Unwilling to commit to the more remote Harta Face with a questionable weather forecast, the West Buttress looked like a good way to climb to its summit.


Approaching the buttress
 
"Traditional" is I believe the appropriate term to describe West Buttress…a quite huge amount of loose rock everywhere, and a route which can be climbed anywhere between grade 3 and V.Diff. It felt good to be away from the crowds no doubt mobbing Coire Lagan from every side…

The imposing final tower of the route

Before the rain started...

The climbing improves with height and the final tower is in a proud and intimidating position leading almost directly to the summit. I was pretty glad the sudden rain waited to start falling until I was past "the Third Gap", the deep notch in the summit crest that has to be bridged/jumped onto a smooth and sloping slab. 


Climbing out of a wet and loose chimney
 
Approaching "the third gap" which needs to be bridged/jumped with a confident head on your shoulders

Tuppenny Buttress (grade 3***) yesterday was a very different route, 200m of continuously superb and rough rock that is probably one of the very finest buttress scrambles in Scotland. The holds just keep coming up a cliff that looks improbably steep for the grade, cracking fun!



The superb Tuppenny Buttress (Grade 3***), the buttress right of the dark central gully

Climbing up one of the steep dykes on Tuppenny Buttress

The weather is on the turn again now, will today be my last climbing day on Skye before I return to the Cairngorms?

James

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