Ahead of a more complete report this is just to let you know that I could not complete the traverse. To be fair I could barely start it! I did do a traverse, today, but not the Cuillin one.
Yesterday we set off from Glen Brittle at 5.45am, reached Coire Ghrunnda, climbed up to Gharb-Choire col and at that point we were on the ridge itself. From there you follow the ridge Southwards across Sgurr nan Egg to Ghars-Behinn, the starting point of the ridge from where you trace your steps back Northwards, to Sgurr nan Egg and Gharb-Choire again, and then onwards. When we came back to Gharb-Choire the rest of the ridge fell under a dense cloud, that would enshroud it for the rest of the day, making navigation very difficult. However I would be lying if I said that this is the reason why we came down.
When we arrived at Ghars-Behinn I was drained. When we got back to Gharb-Choire I could barely stand. I did not underestimate the ridge. I met exactly what I expected: constantly exposed sustained scrambling with a little climbing. But how sustained it is I did not expect. In little more than four hours we gained about 1300m of elevation. All of this on terrain that requires attention and technique, with no respite. At that point I sill had 3700m of elevation to go, and some other 10km of ridge only. I would have put myself in pointless danger had I decided to continue.
The Cuillin ridge is a monstrous endeavour, a relentless sequence of climbs and drops on exposed terrain. There is barely any respite.
One might think that in mountaineering and climbing the most difficult thing could be to crack on despite the weather or the tiredness and granted that can be hard. But you are always pushed by the desire to achieve, to summit, to complete the route. The most difficult thing in mountaineering is being able to abandon a project after all the time, energy and money invested in it because you find out that you just can’t do it, whether it’s because that day the weather is bad, or because you just can’t crack on. I don’t regret my decision, and I am confident it was the wise one.
So to complete at least a traverse and because the weather forecast for today in the Cuillin was not that good, we headed to the Torridon to traverse the ridge of the Liatach, and I am happy to report that was completed with no bypasses, climbing every single pinnacle of it under a splendid sunshine! More on this, with pictures, in the next couple of days!