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Next Meet

"Wild Camping"

1st - 3rd March 2013

Next Social

AGM. Portland D136.

Thursday 14th March
8.00 pm

If you don't want this for a time, please comment it-Fabian !Next Ice Climb

Manchester Indoor Ice Wall
Friday 1st December at 8:30am

If you don't want this for a time, please comment it-Fabian !Next Climb


The always epic drive to Skye started off with a diversion to a succession of houses throughout Nottingham: Matt's house to collect his spare bike wheels; Ben J's uni house; his mum's house to collect Gordon the Pineapple and the cooler box; and his scout hut to get the gas canister and burner, which meant that we left Nottingham at 11am; the short delay included a guided tour of the president's childhood in Nottingham. We picked Ben L up from Knutsford where Chris acquired a sandwich from the service station. Upon reaching Scotland the weather was fine, blue skies with dappled clouds; the lochs were drained of water as there had been no rain for weeks, we were told. All looked good... until we drove over the bridge at Kyle of Lochalsh, when the clouds came down over the Red Cuillin. By the time we reached Glenbrittle campsite (sometime around midnight) the cloud had cleared and the ridge stood out boldly against the night sky as we put up our tents in the twilight.


Everyone set off to climb the Inaccessible Pinnacle by Sgurr Dearg on two walks; one would just do the In Pin and the other would continue along the ridge to Sgurr a Mhadaidh. Approaching the summit of Sgurr Dearg the blade of rock stood eerily in the cloud of very dense mist. Ben L, Dean, John, Johnny and Matt soloed the East Ridge; Tom started up the ridge but decided against it a short way up and downclimbed back to the base. Ben J led Chris up on a rope, struggling to reach the belay point at the top due to horrendous rope drag. The abseil went fine; Matt practically ran backwards down the pinnacle and the mist was so thick that John (in his black jacket) could be heard but not seen until he reached the bottom. Ben L took his helmet off but knocked it with his bag towards the An Stac screes; a distraught committee member asked whether it was club kit (it wasn't) as it bounced down the mountain, before it luckily stopped on a ledge much to Ben's relief. The short walk group of Ben J, Tom and Chris decided to continue along the ridge and the group moved on through the mist. Ben J's exploits at LAMM the previous weekend returned to haunt him after Sgurr na Banachdich when he developed a problem with his knee. Chris's first encounter with the ridge (in the cloud and over damp rock) was a careful one, and together with Ben J and Dean made slower progress as the others went ahead to bag the three middle Munros. The second group didn't negotiate Mheadaidh but went down when they reached An Dorus. Ben J made many stops through the scree field and along the path back to the road down Coire a Greadaidh. Dean went ahead to get the minibus to collect him from the road but Ben J and Chris had almost returned to the campsite when John picked them up.


Ben J decided that his upcoming Conville course and month in the Alps were more important than the Skye trip so his week became a leisurely camping trip. Only one group went out (Ben L, Dean, John, Johnny and Tom) to do Am Basteir and Bruach na Frithe from Sligachan. Dean suggested the group ascend the left shoulder above the gorge as the slabs of the right shoulder looked to be very wet) but they ultimately turned back on the advice of two climbers in the poor visibility and ascended into Coire a Bhasteir scrambling over the slabs (not as wet as first thought). Everyone negotiated the midge-infested Bad Step (we thought climbing up onto the ridge was the only escape from them?) and got to the top of Am Basteir, but again the cloud was so thick that nothing could be seen and time was pushing on, so the group turned back and headed back down by the slabs. Just as the bottom of the gorge was reached the sun came out and the cloud began to lift, typical Cuillin weather. During this time Chris, Ben J and Matt went on a minibus tour of Skye, eating strangely-priced food in Portree (1.28 for a sausage sandwich), buying Dean a viking helmet (which he wore over his midge net all week - he claimed it kept the net on his head) and visiting the Talisker distillery. Tom's Carling can "exploded" in the minibus after the tour and Ben J downed it in the carpark in front of unimpressed visitors. Typical students.

Upon the return to the campsite John, Matt and Tom went off to the Fairy Pools up the glen to collect wood for a beach fire. Ben J dug a pit with the club's snow shovel and Chris put one of his many talents to good use and started the fire. Whisky and beer was consumed. Hypnotised by the fire Brannock began to throw stones at it, most of which bounced back off of the telegraph pole Matt had dragged from the forest or exploded. A guy came up and asked for "tobacco and a few rizlas" to keep the midges at bay; nobody on the trip smoked so he had to endure them for the night. Suspicion rose that he wanted something a bit stronger than tobacco. Ben J, Ben L and Johnny went off to investigate a bird which was attacking a walker further up the beach, and Ben J ran up behind Matt with a pretty large dead crab holding it next to his face. Brannock choked drinking water for the second trip in a row (alas no vomit this time) and Dean ran off before he threw up. As the night dragged on Tom went to bed first (all the driving and distillery tours tired him out) and a plan was hatched to hide the crab in his tent. Ben J and Matt were the last to leave the fire at 2am as sunlight began to grow brighter over the ridge, but not before putting paraffin in the fire.


The only walk was Ben L, Johnny and Chris, who set off to do the In Pin, Sgurr Mhic Choinnich and Sgurr Alasdair; they turned back after reaching some difficult wet scrambling before Mhic Choinnich. Ben J and Tom drove the short distance up the road to the Fairy Pools, intending to go for a swim (one of the top 100 wild swimming locations in the UK according to some book) and drove on to Carbost where they thought there were some interesting rock formations. Brannock and Matt went deep water soloing on the peninsula, only for Matt to discover that it becomes shallow water soloing when there is a platform a foot under the waves and he jumped down from two feet up the rock. It wasn't climbing as much as bouldering as presence of wave-cut platforms hindered the climbing opportunities. At some point during the day the crab found its way in Ben J's tent. On their way back from the Fairy Pools Ben J and Tom picked up a Bristolian hitchhiker and gave him and his friends shelter in the minibus from the rain and midges; their attempts at the traverse weren't going very well. The evening was spent in the pub at Sligachan, and the crab again found its way into Ben J's tent, this time inside his sleeping bag. He complained that it smelled of dead crab but nobody paid much attention.


Nothing much happened. Tom and Dean went to Sligachan to walk the horseshoe ridge (Beinn Dearg Mheadonach/Mhor and Glamaig on the end) in the rain, before bailing out after a tricky descent down wet scree and not really fancying the climb up the steeper scree slopes of the Glamaig (a Corbett and not a Munro but still kind of bagging). So that he might become even wetter Tom stepped into a bog on the way back along the river. They conveniently reached the pub ten minutes before the England-Slovenia match started, reporting the result to the others after their venison burgers.


Ben L, Chris, Johnny and Tom drove all the way to Bla Bheinn to tackle the Cuillin outlier, the only Munro on Skye not on the main ridge. Brannock, Dean and Matt walked from the campsite round to Coire a Ghrunnda to try Sgurr Dubh Mhor and Sgurr nan Eag. After reaching the crags and slabs at the entrance to the coire the cloud came down and they became disorientated, making their way through the crags where possible until they had no idea where they were. Finding a stream they decided to follow it hopefully to the loch until John and Matt jumped into the bright green moss of the spring and Dean realised where they were. They headed up onto the ridge to Sgurr Dubh an Da Bheinn, before deciding to head down because they couldn't see in which direction the ridge went (the top happened to be one of the many magnetic anomalies along the ridge, compounding the difficulties in navigating). They saw the loch for the first time on the way down and assisted by a retreating guide they made their way back until the path became more apparent. The cloud cleared about an hour after they got back to the campsite, yet again typical Cuillin luck. When the Bla Bheinn group returned at about 7pm they said that they had had no cloud all day and watched the grey blanket covering the whole Cuillin, emphasising the localised effect the ridge has on the weather. Another fire was started on the beach and after some experimenting with cooking on embers and in flames a full six kilogrammes of jacket potatoes were cooked and consumed.


Johnny was also suffering from bad knees so kept Ben J company. Everyone else walked up the southern top of Sgurr Alasdair - Sgurr Sgumain - again in cloud and negotiating wet rock. After scrambling up the Grade 2/3 chimney to avoid the Bad Step, it started to rain and crossing Hart's Ledge to reach Sgurr Mhic Choinnich in the rain wasn't particularly inviting so everyone descended down the Great Stone Chute. Even more typical Cuillin weather appeared when the clouds started to clear when the bottom of the Stone Shoot was reached. After a lazy wander skimming stones across the loch, Matt challenged Dean to run back to the campsite and ran after him. In big boots. When they arrived at the campsite the sky was completely cloudless and the ridge was in perfect view for the whole afternoon. If only we had set off an hour later...

With the walking finished for the week and a cheeky snooze and several ice creams later, Chris, Dean and Matt scoured the beach for more crabs as Chris had given the King of the Crabs a sea burial the night before (it stank after spending several days in the sun). A crab circle mysteriously appeared inside Ben J's tent. In the evening everyone descended upon the Fairy Pools; Ben L, John, Johnny and Matt tried some bouldering and swam down the succession of pools. The others were reliably informed that the water was freezing cold. The barbecue was set up on the footpath with an amazing backdrop of Bruach na Frithe's north ridge. Chris and Tom retired to bed after the barbecue but an after party was held at the Waterfront Inn in Carbost. Live music and an appearance from Gordon capped off the week. Sadly the musicians didn't know the lyrics to [italics]Sultans of Swing[/italics].


The group awoke at 6am intending to leave at 7am. Herbert's zip broke and he had to use duct tape to close his trousers. Time was spent racing other minibuses along the M6. After dropping Ben L off at Knutsford a cross-country trip was undertaken to get to Doncaster to drop Matt's stuff off; What seemed like forever was taken driving through Macclesfield to Buxton to Sheffield to Doncaster to Nottingham and everyone got home safely at about 9 in the evening.

What we learned:

  • Ronhills and Inov-8s are superior to all other mountain clothing.
  • Midges swarm around Dean so stay away from him.
  • Don't get up early as the weather will be rubbish and it will get better the moment you get back to your tent.
  • Telegraph poles don't burn.
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Page last modified on September 28, 2010, at 07:06 PM