Sgurr nan Gillean - 964m
via. South-east Ridge

Sunday 14th July 2013

Weather/Conditions: Cloudy but dry. Some breaks in cloud from the summit
Distance/Ascent/Time: 12km / 950m / 4h 20m
Accompanying: Alone

Back on Skye one last day. A couple of days ago, I got turned back on Sgurr nan Gillean's west ridge. There was a small section of pinnacles so exposed that I couldn't feel comfortable doing them alone. It was the correct decision for the time, but it left one Munro on Skye. A bit of an annoyance.

Dad took me back out to Skye, and left me to my own devices as he headed home to Glasgow. I wasn't sure at this moment whether I'd go for Sgurr nan Gillean. I didn't want to get lost in a tangle of route-finding on the south-east ridge. It would be really easy to drop yet another day and I was completely aware of this. I went for a cup of tea in the Sligachan Inn, balancing the pros and cons of going for Gillean now against going back to the mainland.

The decsion was made when the mist tore away from the Cuillin ridges. I would go for Gillean.

I always find it hard to get going, I spend a lot of pre-hill time drinking tea, organising gear and eyeing up my days hills without actually doing anything about it. And then when I start I just go. And by this point in the Round, I've built up a speed of pace to make up for every lazy start.

While I was sad to leave the Cuillin a few days ago, I now wanted to get them done! I followed the path into Sgurr nan Gillean and the mountain grew before me. It feels a lot further in than it looks on the map. I crossed Coire Riabhach then got up onto the south-east ridge. This ridge is the easiest of the three Gillean ridges, and I was amazed to find it not a lot more than rocky walking by it's easier route. The mist held off all the way to the summit, I got views across to the north of the Cuillin and down Pinnacle Ridge.

Then a group of three came up the West Ridge and one of them collapsed on the summit and let out a great sigh of relief. I'd already guessed they'd done the complete ridge traverse by the time I asked them. They spoke of waking up freezing cold in the drizzle one morning, and trying to continue. It's a common Cuillin story.

I took their picture, and they got mine. The mist closed right down and I headed off down the south-east ridge, back down the remembered boulder fields, to emerge onto the lower slopes and back out to Sligachan.

I was originally going to do Beinn Sgritheall the same day, too, and I drove around to Arnisdale early evening. But I was pretty damn tired, and even though I was dead-set of Sgritheall, it somehow slipped away. I spent twenty minutes on the phone to Martin (Stillmarillion), and another thirty to home.

I drove around to Arnisdale without a certain place to camp and parked up in the community centre at Corran. The 'no overnight parking' signs were off-putting, I wasn't too sure where to go. I was so tired that I conked out in the driver's seat.

Move on some amount of time, and I woke up to a woman knocking on my window. Jenny, who lived locally, was just wondering if I was ok: "Yes, just absolutely shattered!". I must have looked a sight, knocked out in the front seat. She kindly invited me into her home for a cup of tea and waffles, and it pretty much made my day. It was surreal to walk out of the wild night, unhinged without a place to sleep, and into a warm front room with the kids playing and a TV on.

I eventually slept on a bench on a bench in the Arnisdale hall, thanks to Jenny. The prospect that I was three days down on schedule, and that I'd have to make them up had been getting to me, and this small encounter made all the difference. So thanks, Jenny.

Times (Time relative to 0.00)
(0.00) 12.20pm Sligachan
(2.00) 2.20pm Sgurr nan Gillean
(2.35) 2.55pm Sgurr nan Gillean (left)
(4.20) 4.40pm Sligachan
Uploaded: 2019-02-14