Wednesday August 21 2007
Cuillin ridge Attempt No 4
Yes a 3am wakeup call, no hot drinks as this would take too long, just Chorley Cakes and water, consumed as we look up at the stars again. We leave in the dark with headtoraches, and the tent still standing for us to collect later. As it happens we miss our waymarking arrow in the sand but soon spot the small cairns we built yesterday evening on prominent rocks. There is nothing better than finding your cairn. We are soon at the Bealach, in the dark still; our bluish torches making strange formations with the boulder shadows. We can leave our bags while we walk South to the end of the ridge, for collection when we come back past. So in the dark we go up Sgurrnan Eag, only this time it doesn’t count as a top, to Gars Bheinn past our old bivvi site, the low ring of stones still there after 4 years, right on the ridge itself. Once we arrive at Gars Bheinn we can start the ridge Traverse proper. Now it is 5.45 am and off we go, trying to jog where we can on the rough terrain. A blanket of cloud covers the coast and sea beneath us with a pink glow of sunrise on it.
We expect to meet other contenders but there are none. It is always surprising how far it is to the end of the ridge and how much scrambling there is even on this, the easiest section of the route. When we reach our bags, above Coir’a Ghrunnda, we eat whilst putting on our harnesses as it is not very far now to the Thearlich Dubh Gap. And then we start the beautiful scrambling on pale yellow rock , peering down occasionally to the shadow-filled corrie below where we can see our tent, and another couple having breakfast.
I love the scrambling on the two outlying peaks of the ridge, – the Dubhs, with their bosses, jugs and handles to clasp onto.
Again we can briefly leave the sacs at the first Dubh, while we travel out to the second. Each summit cairn (provided it is a Munroe or significant to the traverse) elicits a kiss. But not always a stop or anything to eat. The idea is to keep moving the whole time.