The Cuillen Ridge Traverse in a Day

I have heard many stories about the Cuillin Ridge, nearly all of them epics! The Cuillin Ridge traverse is revered as the one of the finest mountaineering challenges in the British Isles. Most parties will undertake the traverse over two days, with a bivouac at some point along the ridge. 
We planned a single day traverse. Our party comprised of my elderly and infirm father and a younger fitter friend of his Campbell Gibson. Both these persons had made a previous attempt at the traverse in 2006 when they had reached Am Bastier at 9pm and decided to call it a night (literally). By the time they reached the campsite at Sligachan they had been moving virtually non-stop for 16.5 hours.

It is a given that the traverse can not be done in one day if it is raining or too windy. We had given ourselves a five day window in the hope that this be sufficient to give us good weather for an attempt.
On the days leading up to our departure for Skye, the forecast did not look good. Showers and rain being the predominant weather pattern.
The following is based on a true story........

About 6pm Saturday night, having driven up from Glasgow that day, we arrived at Sligachan campsite. After waiting for a tremendous downpour to end we pitched our tents.
 The forecast appeared to be accurate.
Over our evening meal we held a council of war and  a decision was reached that we would see what the weather was like in the morning but in the meantime we would still set our alarm clocks for 4 am.
In a bid to keep the weight to a minimum I didn't bring my sleeping mat so didn't have the most comfortable nights sleep. However when we awoke at four o'clock to have breakfast and organize ourselves, the weather was absolutely perfect!
Sligachan campsite just before setting off.

We jumped into the car, helmets on and bum cheeks clenched, as my dad did a Louise  Hamilton (sic) round to Glenbrittle. We pulled in at Glenbrittle in a spray of gravel and a cloud of  dust and a cry of Hi Ho Silver........ The only inhabitants aware of our arrival at that ungodly hour were a few sleepy  sheep and a couple of cows. 
5.30am We  were off. So much for the early start!  We tiptoed along the campsite road and refrained from any conversation as a courtesy to the sleeping campers.
Approaching the Ridge
Heads down and we trudged steadily along the coastal path  before turning north and climbing up  into Coir a Ghrunnda. We skirted the west side of Loch Coir a Ghrunnda and made our way up to Bealach Coir a Ghrunnda were we dumped our sacks and set off  for  Garrs-bheinn.  As we approached Gars-bheinn the famous Skye mist started to close in. After retracing our steps  over Sgurr Choire Bhig and Sgurr nan Eag we eventually found ourselves at the first challange of the day, Thearclich-Dubh Gap.
 An abseil into the gap as Campbell started on one of the four dozen rolls he had packed for the day. I climbed back out the north side like a cat up a curtain. The elderly father  climbed out like a  cat on laminate flooring. I eventually managed to pull him up with the help of Campbell pushing from behind. Rather undignified but he eventually got up. After that example of fine mountaineering we set off once more heads down and plodding steadily. The miles clocked by slowly but surely. 
(Right: Abseiling into the TD gap) 

We arrived at the Inaccessible Pinnacle to see a party of six roping  up nearby. Urgent whispers (not the G. Michael number) of "keep moving" "go for it" "RUN!" and we covered the remaining ground to the Pin in a sprint which we tried to disguised as a casual walk. Made it!  I think we got there first because we started climbing first and never had to push anyone off or cut any ropes. Which is always good.  We battered up the pin and set the abseil up quickly before the angry mob gained on us. This however didn't bother Campbell he was too busy eating roll number 9. We had finished a quick snack before the other party were halfway up.

 Climbing the Inaccessible Pinnacle

At 4.30 pm the rain started and became heavy with a mix of light hail. This slowed us down considerably. The elderly one wanted to stop and put on waterproofs but I reassured him that it wasn't worth while as this was just a passing shower. Two hours later and soaked to the skin I thought he may have had a point.....  
After it had rained.
The rain finally stopped  when we approached Am Basteir and the  harnesses came out.  After some more aid climbing from the old man and some one armed climbing from Campbell (he was now on roll 28), we bagged the second last Munro. 
All that was left to do was to go up Sgurr nan Gillean and head home.  On reaching Sgurr nan Gillean we were overjoyed to have made it. The walk out was in beautiful conditions. A quiet peaceful evening with the old man singing  loudly and very out of tune as  Campbell ate the last of his rolls. 

On the last munro Sgurr Nan Gillean

Walking out
 At 1130pm we returned to Sligachan campsite and collapsed into our tents. After 18 hours of walking we had made it back to Sligachan in one piece, and Campbell ate his last roll.

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