Skoor alastar - Alexander's Peak (named after Sheriff Alexander Nicolson who made the first ascent in 1873) - 992m
Weather - periods of wet and wind, but also long periods of calm to recover in.
Team - with guided group
Other hikers: 3, also from Youth Hostel
Paul P and George Skye Trip 2009 - Day 6 (Friday)
Despite low cloud and a damp forecast, we still buckled up for this last day of the guided week, today heading up onto the southern end of the ridge. From the campsite in Glenbrittle, we headed up into Coir a' Ghrunda which entailed reasonable scrambling from early on, again making us thankful to be in a guided group especially with the weather closed in.
Finally we made it to the loch and a return to some flat walking, but soon we were hiking upwards again, albeit on an easier path, and reaching the ridge once more. It was here that we first met some fellow hikers who were also staying at the Youth Hostel and who had discussed with us their plans for a 2-day ridge traverse. We were to see these people at intervals for the rest of the day; it turned out that despite their technical prowess (ropes, climbing skills etc.), they had met their challenge with route-finding on the clagged-in Cuillins, and indeed resorted to following our group on several occasions. It was a fine example of the danger of these hills being multi-layered and able to catch out even experienced hikers.
Once onto the ridge, Sgurr nan Eag involved some winding scrambling but nothing too taxing. It was however extremely wet at this point and the prospect of spending the rest of the day like that was a depressing one. We then retraced our steps before pushing on past Caisteal a' Garbh-coire and then beginning more serious scrambling up onto Sgurr Dubh an Da Bheinn.
The bags were then happily dumped before heading for some more fine scrambling on the way to Sgurr Dubh Mor, which was difficult in places with challenging route-finding if you didn't know the way already. Thankfully, once perched around the sharp summit, the clouds lifted and gave us fantastic views all around. I was quite struck at this point by how close Sgurr nan Eag was as it had felt like some distance in the cloud.
The break in the weather was to last a good hour and allowed us warm and pleasant walking to the base of Sgurr Alaisdair passing the great gouge of the TD gap. A final session with the rope for a difficult scramble got us up onto this highest point of Skye and the last Munro of the course. By this time the cloud was back but it still felt great to sit on the summit and think of all that had been done over the week.
From the summit easy walking lead down to the top of The Great Stone Shoot, a thousand feet of scree that looks impossible either as an ascent or a descent from across the corrie. Actually being on it is not so bad, although going in a group meant a much more controlled rate of descent which I found much harder than just 'letting go' like usual. Eventually however it does end and from the base easy walking took us away from the Cuillins for the final time. A steak dinner in the Carbost Inn with some of the rest of the group that evening was a perfect cap to a fantastic week of fantastic hills.
Chance of cloud-free Munros?