Early June 2021 and I finally managed to get a trip to Scotland in with fellow Leeds climber and MCI trainee Neil and fellow MCI trainee Will. This trip had originally been scheduled as a winter climbing trip, but after numerous cancellations due to travel restrictions we were finally on. With a Rock trip to Skye.
Arriving in Glen Brittle late Sunday evening we got into the campsite there at what feels like the end of the world. No phone signal or Wifi here, its bliss!
Will was joining us Monday Afternoon so Neil and I got up early for a full day on Sron na Ciche in Coire Lagan. My only previous experience of Scottish Rock was a day at Creag Dubh one hot Febuary. That place scared the life out of me, so I was anticipating a hard week of scary, run out ‘Scottish VS’.
We started off pretty low key to get our head into it with Cioch West, a really nice 215m Severe and I discovered that the rock on the Cullin is actually amazing! Great gear, better friction than grit and good holds, perfect! We continued above Cioch West on to Arrow Route which feels pretty wild for Vdiff, then on to the Classic Rock tick Inegrity VS 4c which has to be one of the best VS climbs I’ve ever done.
Topping out pretty much on the summit of Sgurr na Ciche was an amazing way to end off the day. Neil even managed to get a bit of phone signal so he could call Royal Mail customer services to re arrange delivery of his dad’s new slippers.
Day 2 and Will and Neil were both keen to get some multi pitch climbing as a 3 practice in for their MCI assessments so we headed back up to Sron na Ciche. Starting on Cioch Grooves (HVS 5a) Will and Neil discussed client management, belays and efficient rope work while I enjoyed the climbing on my leads and pretended to have forgotten how to tie clove hitches and acted like the worlds worst client on second.
After Cioch Grooves Will lead Arrow Route to get us to the top section of the cliff. Earlier in the day Will had told me the story of Tropy Crack (E1 5b). Apparently Hamish MacInnes had originally claimed the route after an aid ascent. The Creag Dubh Club hear about this, were characteristically unimpressed by this, so the came and did it free and named it Trophy Crack.
I can’t resist a climb with a story like this so was keen to get on it. The start of the first pitch is fairly steep but with good holds and excellent gear its not too bad, the second half eases off and takes you up to a stunning delux belay ledge. Roomy enough for 3 people and with stunning views of Glen Brittle down to the campsite. We even got an airshow from the search and rescue helicopter doing practice landing in the Corrie. Will got pitch 2 and went straight through the overhanging roof like a boss and we were back up at the summit again in no time.
Descending the gully we passed Eastern Buttress and decided to do Vulcan Wall (HVS 5a) on the way down. Getting back to the campsite at about 11pm all we could do was wolf down a beef chili and hide in our tents from the midgies.
Day 3 was a bit of a slow start after the previous 16 hour day so we headed to Kilt Rock for a short day. Kilt Rock is an amazing 50ish meter sea cliff just past the Stoer so its on the tourist route with its own view platform. Will and I were there for the Hard Rock tick Grey Panther (E1 5b) which we each lead. It’s an amazing route, 45 meters of straight up bridging and jamming. Well worth seeking out if you are on Skye. Neil went for Edge of Beyond (E2 5c) but didn’t like the look of the traverse out so did the direct Mystery Cat (E3 6a) Variation instead. From Kilt Rock we went into Portree for fish and chips where I was disappointed to find out that Skye is a skin on area.
Day 4 and we headed round to Sgurr nan Gillean for Pinnacle Ridge, a massive grade 3 scramble / Diff that takes you straight up to the summit. Will and Neil got in loads more MCI practice while I tried to pull them off and generally act like a nightmare client. Another big day but we managed to get back down to the Sligachan Hotel for a beer after, phew.
Day 5 and the weather turned. We decided to head back to Leeds with a stop off in the Lakes on the way home. Skye is really hard to beat. You could happily spend days based at the Glen Brittle campsite without having to drive anywhere to climb. The rock quality is amazing and totally not the ‘Scottish VS’ experience I was expecting.