The Cullin Ridge AKA The flight of the Midges.

Scotland is an amazing place with endless adventures to be had.  There are two big problems with Scotland that have meant that my tick list up there (in summer at least) is rather pitiful.  The first problem is it is 9-12 hours away from my home in Devon and the second is the G-damn midges…  They really are spiteful creatures and their persistence and annoyance could only be matched by my partner for this mini expedition,  Emma Crome.  Ever since I’ve been back from Chamonix Emma has been hassling me to go to the Cullin Ridge on the Isle of Skye.  This week I gave in to her incessant nagging and headed up north with the hope to complete this wild and stunning mountain adventure.

We made the drive up from the south which took me 13 hours in total including swinging into Bristol to pick Emma up and a McDonnalds-carbo-loading stop. We got to Glen Brittle at 1.30 am on Sunday morning both feeling pretty wasted already. We managed a few hours sleep before getting up (after a prolonged snooze button session) and starting to get ready for the off. Inevitably we had a few false starts on the way up to the base of the ridge through weariness and this picture paints a thousand words…

LOL

LOL

This half an hour gave me the first real chance to get to grips with what was involved in the ridge and read the guidebook description which spans some 13 pages of the Skye Scrambles guidebook.  I can’t say that I was that mentally prepared for what was involved in the route and I didn’t really know what was involved until this point.  I’d heard it was long, and I knew it was a ridge, but I didn’t realise it was 13km and involved some 4000m of ascent and descent, usually takes a couple of days and covers 12 Munros ( peaks over 3000ft). Ok, so its going to feel more like an alpine route as opposed to a few days scrambling.

On the approach to our starting point (Sgurr nan Eag) the heavens opened which meant our motivation wavered and thoughts of retreat started to creep in.  We had a chat and decided to keep going, agreeing that if it got worse we would go down, but before long we were on the first summit and heading off down the ridge in the swirling clouds.

Heading off on the rather moist ridge on sunday at about 1pm

Heading off on the rather moist ridge on sunday at about 1pm

Emma exiting the TD Gap

Emma exiting the TD Gap. the VDiff climbing here hurt my knee quite a lot and was pretty wet.  not much fun but the toughest part done with..

The way through the mountains.

The way through the mountains.

On the Inpin

On the In pin. Don’t let go!

Higher up on the In pin

Higher up on the In pin, the great stone shoot in the background.

Abseiling off the In Pin

Abseiling off the In Pin

This down climbing to an abseil was greasy and scary!!

This down climbing to an abseil was greasy and scary!!

Settling in for the night

Settling in for the night.  

We settled into an awesome bivi after getting down from the In Pin. Of course I decided to continue with my long standing tradition of never taking a sleeping bag (Eiger, Grandes Jorrasses, Dru) and we shivered one out gazing out over the ocean and watching the setting sun.  It was only dark for a few hours (3 maybe?) and we were soon ready to get going after only being in the pits for about 5 hours.  The next day was just as stunning and we made steady progress along the ridge.

Fun rays of the day and an awesome cloud inversion.

Fun rays of the day and an awesome cloud inversion.

Emma on the Last peak, Sgurr Nan Gillean.

Emma on the Last peak, Sgurr Nan Gillean.

Happy times!!! finished and ready for the pub..

Happy times!!! finished and ready for the pub..

Still one more abseil to get there.

Still one more abseil to get there.

An top notch adventure all in all and a stunning place to visit.  We met a 80 year old man and his daughter on the ridge at the end (I’m sorry their names have eluded me) who thank fully gave us a lift back to Glen Brittle after we had had a few beers and some dinner.  A few was all I needed. Him and his daughter are only a few Munros off ticking the whole lot and I wish them the best of luck!!

I look forward to going back in the winter at some point!