CONFESSIONS OF A SKYE GUIDE
Submitted by: Keith Monaghan
Saturday and an early boat and a race to the bottom of Glen Etive for some unfinished business. A five hr hot sunny round of a couple of mungos I missed last month and a race to Lagan after a quick bite in the Nevis bar. Biked 4k to the lake underneath Ardverikie wall where I camped for the night and then an early round of 3 more of Sir Hugh’s finest near Ben Alder. Ardverikie Wall has loads of great multi pitch routes and was covered in climbers and looks like good spot for a weekends climbing with great campsite just below the routes.
Glenmore lodge Sunday night and the weather changed for my 5day ML assessment resulting in deep river crossings with heavy packs and 2 nights camping behind Creag Meagagh with night nav in driving snow and hail. Another 4 mungos and a lucky pass on the course before heading for Aviemore on Friday afternoon to collect Sandra, Billy and Alex. We met at Morrison’s and stocked up with goodies, but before leaving Sandra got lost in the car park and couldn’t find my car despite the big white mountain bike on the roof. Billy, Alex and I sat watching her walk around the car park before she phoned me for directions, which later appeared to be a theme for the weekend. We headed for Slighan and got the tents set up before heading for the pub. A short time later Finbar arrived followed by Maeve and Chris. Plans were set for Saturday which was a bit wet and as Finbar, Billy and Alex headed for Blaven and Clach Glas traverse the remainder of us decided on a water drop at the Inn pin. 3 exhausting hours later I arrived at the top with 7.5 litres of water, other goodies and climbing rope and grer. We hid our stash and then Sandra, Chris, Maeve and I climbed the In Pinn just in case there was a large queue the next day. This was Chris’s 1st Munro!! And I assured him there were much better ones to follow like Ben Chonzie!!
Sunday morning was a bit better and a 6am start from Glen Brittle saw us on the ridge at 10am which we started at Sgur Nan Eag. As I am not a peak bagger I discounted the small bump at the end deciding instead to go off the ridge to the top of Sgurr Dubh Mor (big black hill). I decided we would traverse past the TD gap and up Sgurr Allister as we were 7 and only had one rope, (Text later from Mr Sec. What’s the difference between Coke and & 7up? Keith can’t get 7up the TD gap!! No respect for decisions made by newly qualified ML .)
On Collies ledge we could see quite a crowd heading for the Inn Pinn so Finbar and I raced ahead to get in the queue again. Sadly at this stage Billy who hadn’t been feeling great decided to head down and returned to Glen Brittle to await a lift back from the car park.
Finbar and I arrived at the bottom of the pin to find 16 ramblers in front of us. The others arrived about 45 min later Alex remained with us and the others went on to find the food and water and make dinner. I followed an apparent rock climber up to the mid belay where he had taken 2 young girls up behind him. The absolute tube made a total B...s of his ropework and took 30 mins to get going again; both girls were absolutely frozen and nearly crying and swore never to climb with this idiot again! As he left I had to sort both girls ropes which became hopelessly tangled again and as we reached the top just behind him, he was well aware that if he tried to ab in front of us he was going to do so without a rope. He agreed to let us through and as a result is lucky to be still alive today!
2.5 hrs later we found the others relaxing at our stash site. Finbar had been up there on Fri. and hidden his stash very well. Soo well that he couldn’t find it himself and walked around stating that he thought he had placed a wee rock on top he was sure he would recognise the site. However police search training sprung into action and the stash was located as Finbar stood only a few feet away. He made me promise not to mention it in the report! After a warm meal we pushed on over Sgurr na Banachdich to the next Bealach where we bivied at a great location on a clear still night with nae midges and a fantastic view to the north of Skye.
A good nights sleep and after a 5am start we made good time over the next few tops but had to keep pulling Finbar back as he headed for another, that looks like a good contouring path, but we eventually convinced him that over the top was the best route. Alex was as usual route scouting out front under my supervision obviously.Any wee nav issues were soon resolved and we reached the spring just below Bruach na Frithe were a welcome 3 or 4 pints of liquid refreshment were consumed. However when we got to the top of Am Bhastier I could see the Slighan hotel and was automatically twice as thirsty.
At this stage I got a phone call from a wee Derry man asking directions as to the abseil point on one of the previous tops. Before this I would obviously have sent him on a wild goose chase but he told me that his wee ginger friend had abandoned him promising to hunt me down and pass me, so being a man of new found responsibility I gave the correct advice and told my team if they didn’t bloody hurry up I was leaving them there and then. We got to the bottom of Gillian, dumped the packs and climbed the chimney beside the usual abseil. However the wind had got up a bit and I had to pitch everyone over the small pinnacles. In doing so a middle aged female wearing shorts, trainers and a floppy hat scrambled up past everyone and basically jumped over the pinnacles. I remarked at her prowess as she passed me and she later asked Sandra who her nice Skye guide was. Thankfully I overheard the comment which was only mentioned once after that!
We then raced for the top via the window and took the photies before I turned them all around and headed back the way we came. When we got to the abseil we had a 30 min wait. At this stage I got another phone call, this time from Mike who was at Am Bhastier just behind me. He wasn’t happy with soloing naysmiths and I gave directions to the slabs and the easier route but as we waited our turn to ab I was watching for Mike to come racing up to us. I sent Sandra and Maeve down the abseil first with strict instructions to pick up their bags and head straight down and I would catch up but after getting everyone off and recovering my rope I found them all waiting at the bottom of Am Bhasteir!!
Finbar has promised to carry the rope at some stage of the trip so I duly handed it over to him. I knew Mike was just behind so, having given my all for the team over 2 days I indicated that Billy had two pints waiting on the bar for me in the Slighan so I set off at top speed. (Nothing to do with the ginger just behind me) 1hr 10 min later I finished the 1st pint in 1 go and the second followed quickly after. Another 2 or 3 were consumed before the team started to arrive and shortly behind that came a white faced knackered looking ginger cub who was hardly fit to speak and despondant from his failure to catch an old largish man from the swamps as he had predicted.
We ate and drank our fill and got a welcome call from the big yin who had finished the ridge and was starting on his way down. A few beers later and the Skye Guide was tired and set off for bed. We could see Ants head torch well down the hill by closing time and PJ walked in a bit to meet him. However this was not to be the deep sleep that 20 munros and 10 hard days on the trot should have promised as someone else climbed into their camper van and fell asleep not realising that their alarm had gone off resulting flashing indicators and lights for half an hour lighting up the campsite like a 70s disco. I promised not to mention that either Finbar!
7 hr drive back to the boat and home to a real bed for the 1st time in a week. Fair play to Mike and Ant on their 1 dayer and to Maeve, Chris, Finbar and Alex for, putting up with me. Sandra obviously should know better.
ML, Skye Guide,
10 Jun 2010
Sorry I missed out on the beers and craic in the pub. Some going to do the ML and Cuillin Ridge in one go. Here I was lamenting after doing Pinnacle the day before. Still can't be a Skye Guide till you've done Gars Bheinn and TD Gap though!
10 Jun 2010
Good efforts folks! Been sometime since I was last up on the Cuillin.
10 Jun 2010
I'm expecting big things now you're a ML. You'll be able to do the ridge no problems, after that wee 2 day recce mission you had.