Tuesday, June 07, 2016

Cuillin Round, 4-5 June 2016

The 'super traverse' of the Cuillin taking in the Red and Black Cuillin, 34 miles, 23,000 feet, 29 hours

The infamous Inn Pinn
Most outdoors people have heard of the Cuillin Ridge, and possibly the Greater Traverse extending this to Blaven and Clach Glas, but a much lesser known round is the "Cuillin Round". There's a reason for this -its much harder!  This is a circuit from Sligachan or Coruisk that takes in the Red Cuillin, Black Cuillin outliers, Sgurr na Stri and Sgurr Hain, as well as little extras on the Main Ridge. As of May 2016, there had only been two completions by bagger extraordinaire, Rob Woodall, and mountain goat, Yiannis Tridimas. The last of these was back in 1999, so after a short trip to Skye in May, the fire was kindled and I thought it was time I had a go.

On Sgurr Sgumain as the sun sets
It is completely different to any other 24 hour round, since it includes considerable sections of hard scrambling and easy climbing and requires an unroped approach to move at the necessary speed. The statistics are modest for a 24 hour round at 34 miles and 23-24,000 feet of ascent, but don't be fooled - the nature of the ground makes this very challenging.   It appealed to me because of the Alpine nature of the route and the high scrambling content. I had decided that I would prefer a more relaxed approach and a bivvy part way along, and in any case would be doing it solo and with very little if any support. I secured a lift to Skye and back courtesy of Guy but would have to be largely independent.

Near the end looking back at the ridge
I ended up completing nearly all of the Main Ridge as a recce on the Thursday during which I had a nasty injury to my leg, slept badly and lay around aching on the Friday, before attempting the round on the Saturday and Sunday. You can read my account below but I can summarise it as being one of my most memorable excursions and one to be treasured in my dotage.  Highlights included the turquoise sea at Coruisk, the ball of red fire setting from Sgurr Alasdair, climbing down the Inn Pinn by torchlight, the jagged silhouette of the ridge in the night, the testing direct descent from Blaven and the fine Knights Peak.  The heat reduced me to a wobbling wreck at times, meaning that I took 29 hours, but the attraction of shortening my time to do it in less than 24 hours is not sufficient to make me want to repeat the exercise in more favourable conditions and with the benefit of hindsight. I'll just treasure the experience.

Account of my Round


Detailed Information on the Round

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