Stormy Skye

Euan and I are just back from three days on Skye with a Falkirk Community Trust Scrambling Team of Alec, Gillian, Linda, Sarah and Wilson.

Approaching Bealach na Lice with the Bhasteir Tooth prominent.
Approaching Bealach na Lice with the Bhasteir Tooth prominent.

Having arrived in Glen Brittle on Thursday night we decided to make the most of the fact that Friday had the best forecast and headed up early from Sligachan to Sgurr a’Bhasteir, which we ascended by it’s North-East Ridge. We then continued along it’s narrow South Ridge to reach Bealach na Lice. After a short break we dropped down in to Lota Coire and climbed the Lota Coire Route to The Bhasteir Tooth. Part way up this the weather arrived in earnest several hours ahead of forecast and the upper part was climbed in continuous driving rain and strong winds.

Gillean and Alec near the top of The Bhasteir Tooth.
Gillian and Alec near the top of The Bhasteir Tooth.

We then did the subterranean scramble and abseil to descend King’s Cave Chimney, which got us out of the wind for a while. Given the early arrival of the weather heading down via Coire a’Bhasteir rather than continuing on towards Sgurr nan Gillean seemed sensible. This proved a good decision as the rain was heavy enough that the normal path back to Sligachan required several streams to be forded and the lower steps of the bridge near Sligachan were under water on our return.

After continuous heavy rain overnight and with strong southerly winds forecast we needed a route for Saturday that was relatively low, sheltered from the wind on scrambling sections and had no significant river crossings to access. The North-East Ridge of Beinn Dearg Mhor in the Red Cuillin seemed to fit the bill. With a late start to try and make the most of the weather this worked well giving us some lovely scrambling on rough granite lower down. It was a bit of a battle with circa 50mph+ winds to reach the summit, before descending via it’s North Ridge to Bealach na Sgairde and around to our starting point.

The team in the wind on top of Beinn Dearg Mhor.
The team in the wind on top of Beinn Dearg Mhor.

The forecast for today was for even stronger winds, but only showers. However, lightening was also forecast, so we opted for a low level objective. After driving around to Glasnakille, near Elgol, we abseiled in to the geo that houses Spar Cave. This cave has an amazing staircase of spar, calcium carbonate, and beautifully featured deposits of the same material on the walls and ceiling. After a quick look at the cave we made a short sea level traverse around to the next recess before heading back up the path from this point. The sea level traverse is only accessible for a short period either side of low tide and care must be taken to avoid getting trapped in the Spar Cave geo by a rising tide.

The traverse out of the Spar Cave geo.
The traverse out of the Spar Cave geo.

Three really interesting days on Skye in some very stormy weather. Thanks to the team for being up for some of our unusual scrambling suggestions given the conditions. This made for a great trip despite the weather. Euan will put some more photos on the ClimbNow Facebook page.

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