Cuillin Traverse 101

Skye Mountain Guide

Traverse details:

I’ll admit to middle-aged knees now, since I starting learning the Ridge over twenty years ago. It truly is the greatest mountain challenge in the British Isles, but with seven easy escapes it is also the most frequently failed.

These days, detailed descriptions of runners’ routes encourage more attempts, but the inside of a cloud is still a confusing place to navigate magnetic rocks. I tend to limit attempts to the months of May, June and September, due to high pressure frequently establishing itself over us around Whit and just after the summer holidays.

Many clients uncertain of their stamina or scrambling experience prefer to book a couple of days training before committing to the £600 cost of a full traverse attempt.  The mental aspect of the challenge is often overlooked in the enthusiasm of bagging those tricky 11 Munros in one 3,800m ascent.

The technical challenges of a ridge crossing are focussed at certain narrow sections along the crest where thousands of feet have polished the basalt smooth, raising the Edwardian V. Diff grading to a reachy horror-show at times in the wet. Large drops to either side focus the mind but unrelenting exposed sections tire many experienced scramblers to the point where a rope is recommended.

How we tackle the ridge is largely up to you. I can advise ways to make the attempt as easy as possible but you must consider committing rather more than two twelve-hour days in preparation, travel and specific training.

Cuillin Map

Finally, help yourself by bringing only these essentials on this trip:

  • Lightweight waterproofs, recently proofed
  • Supportive boots: not too stiff, nor too old!
  • Climbing helmet and warm, thin hat
  • Gardening gloves, or prepare to lose some fingerprints:)
  • Sunscreen and midge repellent
  • Water bottles (3l), Straw
  • Baby wipes (there’s no sphagnum moss)
  • Walking pole
  • Sleeping bag and 1/2 karrimat
  • Food (3lb, tasty)
  • Mug, spoon, toothbrush
  • Harness, belay plate, sling and 2 Karabiners MAX
  • Spare socks and fleece
  • Waterproof bags for phone and clothes .
  • Camera

I also carry a 38m rope, slings & krabs etc  plus a knife and prussic cord.

Prior days’ exploration from a valley base is the best way to ensure success on a future one or two day crossing.  Please click on the image below for more details of Skye Munros and our four and five day scrambling courses.



Carbost & Cuillin Guide