Finlay Wild

Finlay Wild
Hill runner, mountaineer, skier
Supported by Norman Walsh Footwear and Mountain Equipment

Saturday, 6 January 2018

South Glen Shiel Ridge Ski Traverse

Many times I have passed through Glen Shiel, looked up to the South Cluanie Ridge and wondered what it would be like as a ski traverse. Having run it once many years ago, my memory was of grassy amenable slopes, and with this in mind it was certainly on my radar for a ski traverse on lightweight ‘skimo’ gear.  But would I ever manage to get there when it was in condition?

On 16th December 2017 I was able to be in the right place at the right time and complete a traverse on ski, starting from just east of Cluanie Inn, ascending to Creag a’ Mhàim and then taking in all the Munros heading west to The Saddle, before descending again to the A87 in Glen Shiel.
Skinning along the old road

Setting off a little before sunrise I skinned along the old Fort William road right from the car. Heading south and up into Coirean an Eich Bhric there was some fantastic morning light and I was amazed by how close the Nevis hills looked. A short section on foot took me up the north ridge to summit Creag a’ Mhàim, the first of the nine Munros I hoped to visit.
Nice light early on

Creag a' Mhaim

Skins off before the first descent

Heading west along the broad ridge I ascended into the mist, managing to keep the skis on past some narrow rocky sections. After Aonach air Chrith I ran a short distance as again the ridge was narrow, rocky and scoured. Snow showers would blow through making things a bit unpleasant but then would recede as quickly, leaving me alone with the silent untracked snow again.
Looking back east along the ridge
Getting further along the weather improved and I had more expansive views down to Glen Quoich, fully blanketed in snow. Following the old fenceline for a lot of the route made for mostly easy navigation through the intermittent cloud, although some careful contouring used the skis to their advantage in enabling a more direct line that avoided several sub-summits. The snow cover was good, although the base was variable. In practice this meant for quick uphill skinning but required careful descending to avoid rocks, fenceposts and unconsolidated drifts. Due to the nature of the undulating ridge it was quicker and more efficient to leave skis in ‘uphill’ mode for some of the short, gentler descents. As anyone who has free-heeled downhill with skins on will know, this can be pretty ungainly!
Looking down to East Glen Quoich

Approaching the top of Creag nan Damh

By Creag nan Damh the sun was out and I had great winter vistas south and west, as well as glimpses through the cloud to a pristine looking snowy Saileag to the north. Following the fenceline down to Bealach Duibh Leac and up onto Sgùrr a’ Bhac Chaolais was fun although undulating and not totally straightforward. Sgùrr na Sgine was a beauty, its steep eastern cliffs a barrier that I would have to go around. Skis off for a steep rocky descent, then a lovely gentle slope traversing southwest under the cliffs. I spotted two climbers doing one of the chimney lines on the cliff, and then startled a fox from its snow covered hideout in an old wall. I watched with primitive delight as it shot up the wide white slope, helter skelter, disappearing over the horizon. Following it more slowly I arrived at Sgùrr na Sgine and looked across to The Saddle, which was still bathed in cloud. The snow was less consolidated here, closer to the sea, and the hills seemed rockier too. An awkward traverse down to Bealach Coire Mhàlagain was not free of rocky scrapes, but certainly would have been more arduous on foot, sinking deep in the soft snow.
Looking to Sgurr na Sgine

Heading up Sgurr na Sgine (fox top right)

Heading up The Saddle I felt tired. I had only taken a litre of water and not enough food, so I needed to concentrate. The cloud lifted as I got to the 1010m summit and I had evening views to Loch Duich and Skye. This peak is quite complex and knowing I had only about half an hour of daylight left with which to commit to my descent route focussed the mind, adding feelings of urgency to those already engendered by the lonely harshness of the land. Skiing down the featured corrie heading east did not look totally straightforward, but walking off by any route would have been slow and exhausting in these conditions. Carefully avoiding rocks I skied the corrie and then traversed back to the base of the Forcan Ridge.

Ascending a final time I passed Meallan Odhar and joined the stalkers track before jogging out the final 2km on foot, just as it became fully dark, and 8.5hrs after setting off. Thumb out hopefully, walking along the road in the darkness, I was a lucky boy as the first vehicle passing stopped for me! Thanks to Helen and Neil from Cioch Outdoor Clothing who gave me a lift back to my car for some food and rehydration.

The next day was nasty, milder weather, and so I had hit the end of the skiing conditions window. Reflecting on the day gives me a lot of pleasure for a variety of reasons but foremost is the satisfaction of using the ski as a tool for travel in winter mountain terrain when it is also the best option. Walking or running the same 32km route would have been implausible in these conditions due to exhausting slow trail breaking: the skis were not perfect but they made this journey possible in these conditions. Maybe the resultant jubilation in part explains the allure of trying to eke out long ski traverses in Scotland, where ski conditions are very often marginal, and the outcome is far from predictable.

Monday, 10 April 2017

Round of the Mamores

On Saturday 8th April it was fantastic summery weather and the hills were all but free of snow following the mild winter.

I've run the Mamores Round twice before, as well as done it several times as part of longer linkups. Previously I'd clocked in at just over 7hrs, so was fairly sure I could get it under that. At least.

Setting off from Achriabhach at noon I decided to run clockwise, therefore getting the long runnable section done on fresh legs - I ran up the road and through to Steall Ruin. Onward to the summit of Binnein Beag I was pleased to get there in around 1hr 12mins.

Knowing the route pretty well made for a fairly stress free journey, keeping eating and drinking and taking in the views. I only touched snow on a handful of times, never more than a few strides to cross small patches.
Looking to Binnein Beag from the slopes below Sgurr Eilde Mor

As I ran I felt pretty strong and started doing some sums from my Tranter splits to see if sub-6hrs was do-able. It seemed like it was so I keep pushing on.

I loved seeing two ravens playing in the updrafts near Binnein Mor. Also bumping into Adrian and Eilidh who I've not seen for ages - just enough time for a quick hug! Coming up from Kinlochleven side was a massive line of people, I'd guess at least 50. Not sure what their story was as I didn't pass them directly.

Not much snow left on the Ben

Binnein Mor

Moving into the final stages of the run I was regretting not taking my sunglasses - it was glorious! Quick descent off Mullach down a short cut that I just about remembered, back to Achriabhach. Great cup of tea and proper catchup with my friends who had by now finished the Ring of Steall and were relaxing at Lower Falls.

I ran 5hrs 18mins 38secs (start and finish at Achriabhach bus stop sign). I wouldn't be surprised if this is a record although I can't see anything recorded elsewhere. Happy for any further information if anyone has any?
Devil's Ridge

Back at Achriabhach



Start Achriabhach

Binnein Beag 
Sgurr Eilde Mor
Binnein Mor
Na Gruagaichean 
An Gearanach
Stob Coire a’Chairn
Am Bodach
Sgor a Iubhair
Sgurr a’Mhaim
Stob Ban
Mullach nan Coirean
Finish Achriabhach

Sunday, 26 March 2017

All Ben Nevis Grade 1's Linkup

Today I did this link that I've had my eye on for a while. The weather was stunning and it was great to be out on the Ben.
Looking up towards No. 5 Gully etc

I came up with the idea while looking at the Ben Nevis guidebook and realising that there aren't that many Grade 1's on the Ben! I had a look at the UKC Logbook list too and amalgamated the two. Not much info out there about Arch Gully, on Carn Dearg Summit Buttresses - quite cool with a big chockstone.

My Route:

Start North Face car park
Up No. 5 Gully
Down Colando Gully
Up Arch Gully
Down No. 4 Gully
Up No. 3 Gully
Down Tower Gully
Up East Gully of Douglas Boulder
Down West Gully of Douglas Boulder
Finish North Face car park

I didn't include CMD Arete as I think you can argue that its not really 'on' the Ben.

2hrs 51mins 08secs
?1677m ascent

Under the chockstone in Arch Gully

On the plateau

Looking down Tower Gully

Looking back up Tower Gully

Observatory Gully

Looking down West Gully of Douglas Boulder

I took 2 light axes and used Salomon XA Alpine boot/shoes with strap on crampons.


Lovely day!

Speedy Tours 1 (2016) Video

My video from last year's trip got its 'premiere' at the Ski Night of Fort William Mountain Festival in February

Video at:

"In March 2016, 4 British ski mountaineers set off from Menton on the Cote du Azur and headed for the snow! In 7hrs we reached it, and in 7 days we had travelled over 130 miles to reach Aiguilles in the Queyras. Next year we plan to return and continue this journey, following a route along the Grand Alpine Arc. Our hope is to continue returning over several years, finishing eventually at the other end of the Alps in Vienna"

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Tranter's Round Record

I set out at 0805hrs on Saturday 1st October 2016 and completed an anti-clockwise Tranter's Round in 10hrs 15minutes 30seconds.

I have been interested in the Tranter Round for a long time. Last February, myself and Tim Gomersall completed a Winter round on skimo ski mountaineering equipment in 17hrs 35mins (see

My focus over the past year or so has moved to longer races and runs. Competing in the Tromso Skyrace (3rd place, 6hrs 55mins) and Glencoe Skyline (4th place, 7hrs) as well as long runs in the hills have improved my stamina and distances. Supporting Jasmin Paris on her Ramsay Round Record (I did the third leg which was about 35km I think) was eye opening and sociable. Interest in long distance records seems to be on the increase. I like this: racing is good, but just going out and doing a long route for the challenge / fun of it is probably even more appealing to me.

Looking at previous split times (mainly Jasmin and Jon Ashcroft's Ramsay splits - as I couldn't find Mark Harris's Tranter splits at the last minute!) I reckoned I could shave a bit off Mark's time. I know the route well - having done all parts of it multiple times separately. I knew Mark have been 'onsight' on the Aonachs towards the end of his round, and he had previously told me that this had cost him some time. Also, Jasmin had challenged me to a sub-10 hour record!

Despite living in Fort William, it took a while for the combination of good weather, time off, and fresh legs to occur. Saturday 1st October was a glorious sunny day with some cloud in the valleys initially, but crystal clear views from the hills all around. Setting out from the Youth Hostel and up onto Mullach I was really excited to get started on what was going to be (if nothing else) an amazing weather day out in the autumnal hills. All along the Mamores, stags were roaring in the corries, nature taking its course after the first real cold night of the autumn.

View across from east of Mullach, towards Ben Nevis

Having cramped badly at Glencoe Skyrace, I was determined to look after myself and eat and drink loads all the way round. I thought I was doing this, but had a mini power failure towards Binnein Mor, and took on yet more food. I loved the fast track from Binnein Beag towards Sgurr Eilde Mor, and remembered the snow conditions and skiing I had last time I was here (going the other direction). I made the top of Sgurr Eilde Mor at 4hrs 55mins. Some calculations in my head and I reckoned that the 10hr mark was potentially feasible, although would need some work!

Looking along the Mamores

Devil's Ridge

I seemed to take a very boggy rough line down to Abhainn Rath in the glen, and felt pretty slow going up the long ascent to Stob Ban (Grey Corries). There was a Last Munro party on the top, complete with bagpipes - a funny coincidence as this was also the case when I was here last time on Jasmin's Ramsay!

Looking back at the river and the Mamores

Getting to Stob Choire Claurigh felt good psychologically as I was turning the corner to head home. I managed to pick up speed a bit and loved how close the Ben looked in the clear autumn light. I bumped into Donnie Campbell who was doing a long run from Corrour, a bit of a chat was nice after a long time on my own (other than just saying 'hi' to walkers).

I seem to need to eat and drink loads compared to a lot of other runners! I was running out of food! Carefully rationing myself I carried on and enjoyed the Carn Mor Dearg arete, although I felt pretty slow going up the final ascent to the Ben. Now I could just relax and get down to the Youth Hostel as soon as possible. I knew I was going to miss the 10hr mark, but not by too much.

Ben Nevis summit
Descending the Ben

One really interesting part of the run was realising how fast Jasmin and Jon's Ramsay splits are. On the Mamores I was mostly faster than these splits by a few minutes for each peak, but on the Grey Corries I had run out of some steam so was about the same. The fact that the Ramsay is 20 miles longer speaks for itself. That said, with more long runs my stamina can only improve - this was my longest run to date. I'm sure it will go quite a bit faster, I felt like I slowed down a fair bit in the second half so I'm keen to have another go at some point.


I was solo / unsupported. I ate about 3 bars and 9 gels, as well as jelly babies and some nuts. I seemed to drink a lot - maybe 6 litres! Lots of places to fill up.

Link to my Strava trace:

My watch said:
6080m ascent

Split times:

Start Glen Nevis YH
Mullach nan Coirean
Stob Ban
Sgurr a’Mhaim
Sgor a Iubhair
Am Bodach
Stob Coire a’Chairn
An Gearanach
Na Gruagaichean
Binnein Mor
Binnein Beag
Sgurr Eilde Mor
Stob Ban
Stob Coire Claurigh
Stob Coire a' Laoigh
Sgurr Choinnich Mor
Aonach Beag
Aonach Mor
Carn Mor Dearg
Ben Nevis
Glen Nevis YH

Monday, 22 August 2016

Nevis Five Ridges Record

15th August 2016

A classic mountaineering link-up I have wanted to do for years, but never gotten around to (I've done each ridge several times, but never linked them together).

Really very enjoyable - such a lot of climbing!
Enjoyed on a lovely afternoon in August

From North Face Car Park
- up North East Buttress (standard route traversing in from the left to above First Platform)
- down Tower Ridge
- up Observatory Ridge
- down Ledge Route
- up Castle Ridge
- return to North Face Car Park

c. 2091m ascent
V. Diff climbing standard

Tower Ridge and Ledge Route seen from North East Buttress

On Castle Ridge

Tromso Skyrace

6th August 2016

4700m ascent
6hrs 55min

Third place (to Tom Owens and Jonathan Albon)

Amazing race, it had everything - technical terrain, fast runable stuff, and everything in between. An adventurous journey in awe inspiring terrain!
Great exploring in Tromso region afterwards - especially the ridge off the back of Store Blamen

See here for a flickr album of the trip: