With high hopes and low expectations of good weather Jamie and I, Jake, Kane, Mark and James all headed up to Skye for some jubilee fun, mountain style.
Spotting a potentially small good weather window, Jamie and I headed straight up to bivvy at the start of the Cuilin ridge the day we arrived. Jake and Kane were hot on our heels when they arrived the next morning, catching us up in the queue for the TD gap. When the snow flurries turned to full on fat rain and wet rock, we bailed down the An Stac screes (my favourite) while the others valiantly battled on, eventually impressively completing the ridge in a day.
It transpired that actually this was the only bad weather day of our entire trip, the rest of the week being almost wall to wall sunshine but hey, the mountains can be unpredictable.
Jamie and I returned later in the week to complete our traverse in a physically and mentally demanding, though ultimately very satisfying, 15 hours. After some well earned knee rest days, we tackled the impressively beautiful and terrifying Kilt Rock then rounded off our week with a roasting Clach Glas traverse, mostly spent watching Kane scampering off into the distance!
Jamie’s thoughts on Kilt Rock…:
“After last year’s visit to Staffin slips I was very keen to head to the neighbouring Kilt Rock for some long high quality jamming routes.
The Staffin area centres on a 45 metre tall seam of granite with evenly spaced crack lines mostly in the HVS to E4 grades.
The classics of Kilt Rock are Grey Panther E1 5B, closely followed by Internationale E2/3 5c.
This visit coincided with a fairly big birthday, let’s just say it was similar to the length of the routes 😒.
We geared up and chatted to another team who were just finishing Grey Panther, both also from Bristol:). We also reflected on how tough yesterday’s 15 hour day on the Cuillin ridge had felt. We were both mentally exhausted from the continuous soloing with big exposure.
Both Lisa and I have climbed far larger more exposed routes than Kilt Rock but it was clear that today both our mental tanks were running dry. We pulled the ab rope back up, squelched back through the bog to the carpark and went for a beautiful scenic drive round the North of the island instead.
A few days later we were back though, rested in body and mind.
Internationale is a 45m soft and safe E3 jamming route. The crack is fist jam to soft off width. The only issue is large protection! I’d bought a size 6 dragon and borrowed Matt’s Camalot 4.
My plan was to just keep moving the two cams up one at a time. In practice this proved a bit scary as sometimes the cam would fully expand as it was pushed up.
I tried leapfrogging but as soon as one cam was out the remaining one suddenly looked far dodgier than it had before, making me gripped in the process.
Worse was getting into a flow then realising I’d left the lower cam two or three moves behind, leading to some tenuous down climbing.
At about 3/4 height I was relieved to plug both cams in as runners, leave them behind and just focus on the climbing.
Back at the belay with Lisa and another team were racking up for Internationale after graciously letting us go first.
I was moaning about my new post birthday age but one of them quickly poured cold water on that by telling us he was 63.
Their leader only had one large cam which led to the ethical question – would he like to borrow my two? Yeah why not. We ticked off Grey Panther then got on the road home after a long trip, bidding farewell to Skye and stopping off to camp in Glencoe.”
Finally, Mark’s roundup of his first trip back with the AMC in many years…:
“It’s an 11hr drive from Bristol to Skye, and I spent most of that time trying to get James’s car to bluetooth to my phone. Finally successful, we rolled onto Skye with some new tunes and a promise from the Met Office of “drier than average” weather.
Scarpering up the first hill we saw we promptly got blown down it, and so now with a promise of snow and thunderstorms all week instead, the next day I went to Portree to buy some gloves.
That of course meant the sun came out, and the rest of week we were battling sunstroke and dehydration. Myself and James did the Cullin Ridge over two days in wall-to-wall blue skies with a spectacular bivvy in the middle. Also chilled out on the beach watching the sunset on the ridge, ticked off getting onto the Cioch, topping out with a stonking 2 pitch VS (Integrity), drove round the coast to Elgol, had a boat ride and eventually that just left the long drive back to Bristol. Where it was raining!”