Cuillin Ridge Diary 2003; The Approach

the gear tent and also used for our wildcamp

the gear tent and also used for our wildcamp

Friday 23 May 2003
This is our first ever trip to attempt the traverse of the Cuillin ridge. Although we have not been to try it before, much research has been done, especially by Jim, strategies have been considered and evaluated, and nothing has been left to chance except of course the weather and our actual abilities.
It’s Jims Birthday and as a treat he has decided to heave a massive bag of camping and bivvy and climbing gear all the way to Skye. We spend the entire day travelling and arrive at 9.30 in the evening. As we arrive at the Sligachan Campsite, the rain begins to fall, which is a shame because we have two tents to put up, one for us and one for all our gear. Jim chivalrously leaves me in the bus shelter where the coach dropped us with all the gear, while he erects the first tent. It continues to rain and we eat in the handy Sligachan Hotel
Saturday 24 May 2003
Today we walk up Bruach na Frith. Jim scrambles up the ridge to attain the summit, while I walk up the path to meet him. We scramble about on the ridge, practising for what is to come.
Sunday 25 May
It’s still raining and we take a trip to Portree to check the weather on the internet. This is all in the days before phones that would do all that for you.

Showing the view to Sgurr nan Gillean and Am Bhasteir

Showing the view to Sgurr nan Gillean and Am Bhasteir

Monday 26 May
We prepare for our Ridge attempt. Carefully we pack our weighed and considered items, separating them into things that will go with us on the ridge and those that will be used only for our overnight wildcamp. We then have to take one of our tents down, – the one that we are going to stay in at the end of the ridge, and leave all the rest of the gear in the larger tent at the campsite. This takes just about all day to organise. Then we get the 5pm bus to Glen Brittle and take the footpath to the far end of the ridge on the South side, to the flanks of Ghars Bheinn. (This was before much of the renovation that has been done to this path and it was in a very poor condition, especially as you approach the far end where hardly anyone ever goes.) We hadn’t reckoned on how very boggy and muddy the path would be and hard the going would be just to get to this area.
In addition to all the gear we are also carrying about 8 litres of water or Jim is, a decision that he will shortly rue, This is all the water we should need on careful rationing for the night, and the subsequent traverse of the ridge.
We arrive where we have planned which is somewhere around Ulhart point only on the flanks of Ghars Bheinn above this. It is about 10.30 pm and still light. We scout about to find a little area slightly up the hill from the path, where we have views of the sea looking out to Coruisk and Soay and the South. The area seems to have been prepared for us already by deer, having neat short grass and no unruly vegetation, and being free of bog. The tent we have brought is a lightweight Terra Nova solo, and although it supposed to be for 2 it is definitely cramped and we were quite uncomfortable squashed together. In the night it came quite cold and this did nothing for our comfort. But to lie there on the ground, knowing that you are at least 5 miles away from the next person (unless they are doing something similar to us) is quite a thrill.

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