Return to Skye, 20 years on

May is usually a dry spell on the western seaboard of Scotland. I had agreed to go up to help out with a palaeontological prospecting expedition with people from the University of Edinburgh, National Museum of Scotland aided by Dugie Ross of the Staffin Museum, this year’s winner of the Palaeontological Association’s Mary Anning Award. The weather was indeed mostly glorious, although I did have a murky trip to the top of The Storr and we did have some periods of rain during coastal fieldwork.

Although some excellent fossils were found, the personal prize was the day I managed to get up onto the big draw on Skye for the hillwalker: The Cuillin Ridge. I’ve been out onto some of the central parts of the ridge from Glen Brittle, with Mike from Team 06 when I was working for Pathcraft,  but this time I was heading out from Sligachan for the northern end of the ridge. I decided to go and visit Bruach na Frìthe via Fionn Choire.

The walk in was uneventful, I spent much of it leapfrogging a group of three other walkers until we got into Bealach na Lice then we all split from the main path to do our own things. Such is the nature of hitting the Ridge. Just so many possible routes to cover the same ground. I used the low crags below Sgurr a Fionn Choire to warm up for a planned ascent of that peak on the way back from the summit of Bruach na Frìthe, as some climbers, swathed in racks of gear, passed on their way to complete their full traverse of the main ridge.

I picked a line that needed some hands on the rock but no great exposure up to the summit of Bruach na Frìthe and enjoyed the excellent panorama of the central and southern parts of the Cuillin. Turning back, I was able to find a route up to the summit of Sgurr a Fionn Choire, which was a bit more of a committed scramble but very enjoyable on dry rock. From that vantage point I got a great view of the Basteir Tooth as the climbers who had passed me earlier began scaling it.

I did not have time to press round to Am Basteir, as I had to head back to Portree to get in the drinks for the party for Dugie to celebrate his Mary Anning award. Sadly, I could not stay, as I had to head to Glen Coe to work for Rescue Medics at a Scottish Downhill Association race on the Saturday.

I am a palaeobiologist in my early 40's carrying out research work. I am based in Scotland.

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Posted in Mountain Training, Scotland, Trips, Uncategorized

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Al is a Summer Mountain Leader
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