How Difficult Is The Skye Cuillin Ridge Traverse?
The Skye Cuillin Ridge traverse is one of the most demanding and complicated mountain climbs in the UK, testing both mental and physical stamina to the limit. For those who enjoy the challenges of scrambling, rock climbing, and high-altitude camping, it is an experience not to be missed!
The epic 20-mile round route takes in 22 peaks at heights of up to 3000 m, many of which involve the highest scrambling grades or roped climbs and abseil descents. It takes two days for all but the most highly experienced mountaineers to complete, requiring an overnight bivvy in the mountains.
While it is possible to avoid some of the most difficult climbs, it is still advisable to have some climbing experience or to hike with a trained mountain guide who will be on hand to provide support and assistance.
In the British climate, it is best to be prepared for whatever the weather throws at you, as this can mean the difference between a fairly straightforward scramble and a hazardous climb on Scotland’s most demanding peaks. You will be up there for two days, so it’s important to be able to handle lengthy exposure to the elements.
Of course, it is necessary to keep a close eye on the weather forecast and to avoid going out on the mountains at all if sustained rainfall, high winds, mist, and other adverse conditions are forecast. Clear weather conditions are ideal, not only for safety reasons but also to allow you to enjoy the spectacular views of the mountains and sea.
For this reason, if you are really serious about making an attempt, it’s best to set aside a window of at least seven days and pick the best two. All but the most experienced climbers tend to make the attempt in the spring or summer, when the slopes are largely clear of snow and ice.
The challenges of the route itself can be met by anyone with strong scrambling skills and some knowledge of using ropes and harnesses. However, the ridge is notoriously difficult to navigate, and errors can lead to a lot of wasted time, or even fatal cliff falls. Bear in mind that magnetic rocks can make the use of compasses unreliable.
Another important factor to take into account is that you will need to carry enough food, water, and equipment for two days. This requires physical stamina and mental endurance, and it is best to get some practice in first if you are not used to carrying this amount of kit.
It also takes a lot of planning and preparation to make sure that you pack the right items, and carry neither too much or too little kit with you.
For all of these reasons, it’s strongly recommended to get some practice on less demanding routes first, to make sure that you have the physical fitness, skills, and mental toughness to cope with one of the most beautiful but challenging mountaineering routes in Europe.