The winter traverse of the Cuillin Ridge back in December had left me blown away with the beauty of Skye and the Cuillin. I was keen to go back in the Spring to explore the Cuillin some more. The only issue was that with such stellar weather and conditions on the ridge in December was it really possible to get much better than that!?
Winter dragged on for quite some time in Scotland and even by mid May there were substantial patches of snow on the hills. Rather optimistically I drove North leaving behind my axe and crampons thinking that surely the ridge must be clear of snow…turns out that optimism was somewhat misplaced. Arriving on Skye to strong winds and driving rain I met up with Mike Lates, for whom I was working, and he informed me that an axe and crampons were needed to approach most of the Munro sections…sub optimal!
Over the course of the next few weeks I experienced everything from gale force winds and blizzards to hot, blue sky days. Having only been there on the winter traverse there was a bit of ‘on the job’ learning as the ridge in summer is even more complex than winter!
The majority of the people who come to the Cuillin over the summer months are there to climb the Skye Munros in their pursuit of ticking all the Munro’s. For most, the Cuillin Munro’s are a significant step up in difficulty from the other Munro’s. Most people seem to put them off for quite some time and usually end up hiring a guide to get them around the Munros on the ridge.
I had the privilege of spending some fantastic days with people from a wide range of backgrounds, from surgeons to engineers to submarine commissioners. I often wondered why people would want to go and tick all the Munro’s but when you start to think about the absolutely stunning places you end up and the people you meet along the way you can start to see the attraction (though I do wonder about the lady who was doing her 5th round…). For most, completing the Munro’s on Skye bring them far out of their comfort zones and when you realise you are helping them achieve a lifetime goal then it makes the work all the more rewarding. Saying all that, I have no intention of becoming a Munro bagger!