On Sunday 16th June 2013 I recorded a time of 3 hours 14 minutes and 58 seconds for a Cuillin Ridge Traverse, under the Hyslop 'rules' (all 11 Munro summits, plus the Sgurr Thearlaich and Bidein Druim nan Ramh tops, including the four main ‘climbing’ sections. Starting Gars-bheinn and finishing on Sgurr nan Gillean).
This was my third traverse in three weeks – a week ago (9/6/13) I ran a time of 3h10m30s in perfect weather only to realise I had inexplicably omitted to touch the summit cairn of Sgurr Mhic Choinnich, despite passing 10 metres from it! This dawned on me slowly and horribly while walking down from the ridge, so later that day I made the tired journey back from Glen Brittle to Sgurr Mhic Choinnich to consider what had happened – unfortunately this confirmed I had made a 5 second important omission. The next week was lived in a sort of limbo of checking weather forecasts and mental preparation for the next run.
So it was that I returned on Saturday night for an optimist’s weather window Sunday morning. Myself and Suzy hid from the midges and rain showers at Glen Brittle campsite, then headed as far as Sgurr nan Eag well into the night as the skies cleared. I hoped the ridge would dry out nicely overnight, and in the morning a beautiful cloud inversion below us boded well. I left Gars-bheinn at 5am, expecting the cloud to lift and the temperature to shoot up. The weather didn't improve but as I was making good time I kept going. As it turned out, the majority of the traverse was done in misty and slightly damp conditions. Due to such a lot of recent time on the ridge the route finding went very well, except for an error descending Sgurr na Banachdich.
I gradually dropped behind my own split times from a week ago, and at Bidein was 4 minutes behind. The whole traverse certainly felt more serious than in the previous bone dry conditions, but it was still going well so I pushed on over the next more runnable section and by Bruach na Frithe was just behind Es Tresidder’s 2007 split. I knew it would be close so shoved some more jelly babies in and continued onwards to Naismith's and arrived delighted at the summit of Sgurr nan Gillean in 3h14m58s, as the sun decided to briefly show face.
After descending back to Glen Brittle I had a relaxing time on the beach and a fantastic meal at Sligachan – by now the cloud had cleared a bit and I spent a lot of time looking up at the Cuillin, repeatedly.
Thanks to Rob Beaumont, Peter Herd and Alli Pettigrew for carrying my bivvy stuff down from Gars-bheinn a week ago, and to Suzy Devey for being the beast of burden this time - and having her own adventures in the mist! Also Roger Wild with whom I did my first traverse 10 years ago, and lots of reccy’ing since. Es Tresidder has been helpful with discussion and info – very sporting given that I was chasing his record.
Sgurr nan Eag 0.15.50
Sgurr Dubh Mor 0.33.40
Sgurr Alasdair 0.55.26
Sgurr Thearlaich 0.58.29
Sgurr Mhic Choinnich 1.07.00
Inaccessible Pinnacle / Sgurr Dearg 1.24.08
Sgurr na Banachdich 1.40.26
Sgurr a' Ghreadaidh 2.00.06
Sgurr a' Mhadaidh 2.07.47
Bidein Druim nan Ramh (Central Peak) 2.28.50
Bruach na Frithe 2.55.50
Am Basteir 3.04.34
Sgurr nan Gillean 3.14.58
I wore a GPS watch and the details from both runs can be viewed at http://connect.garmin.com/activity/328909415
There are limitations – I lost satellite signal in King’s Chimney (on the previous attempt), and the trace doesn’t seem infalliable on such complex terrain.
Finlay Wild at the Fairy Pools after his traverse. Pic: Suzy Devey