Sgurr nan Gillean and Am Basteir. The inefficient route. June 2010.

Date: Thursday 10th June 2010
Distance: 18.8km
Ascent: 1800m

Forecast disparities – Beeb and Met say a cloudy day, MWIS say sunshine in the west. Clouding a bit in Kintail at 0600. We had planned to go up Glen Elchaig but a late change of plans had us skooting over the Skye Bridge.

The Cuillin is a bit troublesome for us – despite 4 weks of hols on Skye in 4 years we’ve had only about 5 days when the ridge was clear (zero in the last 2 years). In addition Hazel is not comfortable with the exposure and terrain and frankly dislikes the area. This has made for a bit of difficulty for me to have a nibble at them and see what I can manage.

We had however thought that the Sgurr nan Gillean Tourist path would be of interest – the views from the ridge there would be worth the walk for Hazel.

Gillean was trying on hats for size as we arrived but happily decided to do without for the day.

Pleasant conditions for walking from the Slig – warm with a bit of breeze.

Took the Basteir/Gillean track up to the bridge:

Views develop down Glen Sligachan:

And up to the Cuillin:

A few damselflies around:

Progressing up the track the views expand up to the North of Skye – the Old Man:

Views to Bla Bheinn improve too:

Crossing the bridge over Allt Dearg Beag the track runs over the grassy ridge that eventually becomes Pinnacle Ridge. All easy down here though.

Gillean and Basteir:

The track drops about 40m into the Coire Riabhach and the climbs up on unthreatening slopes towards the SE ridge of Gillean.

The track ascends through some bouldery ground but it is well packed down and pretty benign walking. Eventually you break out into more open ground and can admire the view.

Red Cuillins:

Bla Bheinn:

Rather than ascend direct to the SE ridge we continued S to use easier ground and emerge on the main ridge near Sgurr Beag.

Sgurr nan Gillean:

Tornado speeding below:

Sgurr Beag and Sgurr na h-Uamha:

Hopefully this will fall over soon!

Panorama from ridge:

Link to larger pano:

Sgurr nan Gillean:

Hazel stayed put from here and I headed up. In truth, in the good conditions it seemed fairly easy stuff. Just the final 30m needing a bit of easy scrambling. Camera was stashed so no photos til the summit:

Am Basteir and Bruach na Frithe:

The Main Ridge:

Summit panorama:

Link to larger pano:

A careful scramble down the 30m and then an easy saunter back to Hazel. A rest stop for some nibbles at this point – no rush.

Us on the ridge:

Good visibility – Ben Nevis:

The track back to Coire Riabhach just needed a bit of care on dry loose stones but gave no problems.

Given our proximity to Am Basteir and only being 650m below the summit on a perfect day I didn’t feel I could walk away from it. I was up there a few years back in driving mist and was turned at the Bad Step and after some half-hearted exploration of a wet and slippy S side couldn’t identify the bypass ramp so turned back. Getting up there would see if I could do it and save Hazel a holiday day back up Coire a Bhasteir.

Split from Hazel who went to have a wander and then a pint at the Slig. Cut direct over the ridge from Coire Riabhach to cross the stream beneath Bhasteir Gorge.

Gillean above Bhasteir Gorge:

The route up into Coire a Bhasteir on slabby rock is quite fun. Coire a Bhasteir itself is a bit desolate. The track out runs up the left (east) side and then up the scree slopes to the bealach between Basteir and Gillean. Quite a long way for a short-cut.

After a short way on the fin of Am Basteir I cut left (south) and edged out on loose rock covered shelves to look for the bypass. Climbed up a likely candidate to find myself too high, backtracked, edged out further and found a ramp which took me up past the bad step.

Glad I didn’t try this in the clag – pretty rotten ascent.

Conditions had changed – high cloud had turned the skies milky and the light flat. That said I don’t think Basteir is anything like the viewpoint that Gillean is.

Sgurr na h-Uamha to Sgurr nan Eag:

Bruach na Frithe:

MacLeods Tables:

Back to Sgurr nan Gillean:

Headed down after a short time. Had a look at the Bad Step on the way down and as all the footholds were visible from below simply climbed it (inelegantly). Gave the advantage of walking the fin of Am Basteir and enjoying the drop:

Met a couple of guys at the bealach who were completing the full traverse having set off from Glen Brittle at 0300. What a day for it!

The Am Basteir fin (hdr):

Made quick work of Coire a Bhasteir on the scree. Looking back (hdr)

Hurried back down the track so as not to keep Hazel waiting too long. Waterfall (hdr)

A bit of a sad route – I’ve never been attracted to climbing as being attached to ropes always seemed a bit constraining. Skye is somewhere that it sets you free.

Still – an enjoyable day. Sgurr nan Gillean was superb. Some great scrambling and a beautiful day. 😀

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