Snowy spring on the Skye Munros
This week has seen me on the Isle of Skye leading people up the munros they would like to tick in order to eventually complete the munro round of all 282 peaks. The weather had a big part to play in what we could do and what was enjoyable.
This week we have had to work with the weather and what it has brought rather than against it or ignoring it. I believe that the phrase of beating the weather or winning isn’t quite correct, we have to accept what we are given with the conditions and work with them, it’s what makes Scotland’s mountains so varied.
Monday saw a big drop in temperature and lots of snow fell on the summits. I decided to walk up to An Dorus to summit Sgurr a Mhadaidh and Sgurr a Ghreadaidh, 2 of the simpler peaks. The snow only looked like a dusting from the walk in so we scrambled out of the tricky step from the gully to be confronted by full winter conditions on the ridge.
There was enough dry rock and the snow was powdery that we made careful progress up and down the slabby steps to the summit and back to An dorus to the next munro. The snow certainly made it harder and slower but the best approach is to go steady and take your time.
On Wednesday we headed to the southern end of the Cuillin ridge with the view of gaining the summits of Sgurr nan Eag, Sgurr Dubh Mor and Sgurr Alasdair. With more snow overnight and with lots of boulders to cross I made the decision to just summit Sgurr nan Eag and keep the day simple rather than push the conditions over the boulder fields and slabby steps. Sgurr Alasdair had a lot more snow on it than the other peaks, being the highest around.
Thursday was day 1 of our 4 day Skye Munros course aimed at summiting all the 11 munros on the black Cuillin. There was a slight ease in the snow overnight and we walked in to climb the same 3 munros as the previous day, hoping to get better conditions. There was a bit less snow and we made good time up Sgurr nan Eag and decided to traverse low round to Sgurr Dubh Mor where there was less snow over the boulders.
After the few tricky steps up we were on the summit of our second peak of the course. We were now exposed to the strong northery wind and we made a quick descent down to shelter. We again decided to miss out Sgurr Alasdair which was in spectacular winter condition and exposed to the brunt of the wind.
Friday was the In Pinn day, 1stsummiting Sgurr MhicChoinnich which was the snowiest peak of the week with firm consolidated snow all the way up the slabby ridge. We took our time and we were rewarded with amazing views of the other Cuillin peaks in winter condition.
After our descent, it was time to walk up the scree and slabs to the base of the In Pinn which were very hard going and slippery under the snow. Once up the steep slopes we could see the In Pinn in all its glory. There was snow on the arete to the summit and the temperature was cold so I made the decision that it was better left for another day, just as a strong hail shower came in.
On day 3 of the course the weather was mixed with strong winds and heavy rain in the afternoon. An early start at 7.30am was needed to get up and off the ridge before the rain and wind started on Sgurr a Mhadaidh and Sgurr a Ghreadaidh.
There was the same amount of snow as on Monday but it was firm and icy on the slabs, so careful foot placement was needed in ascent and descent. It was good to get clear views on these summits but the wind was biting along the ridge.
We managed to get back to the corrie before the rain started and got back to the cars without needing waterproofs, just in time. In these unseasonable conditions it is good to get most of the peaks completed with only a few left to do at a later date, when conditions allow.