Self reliance is a fundamental principle of mountaineering. By participating we accept this and take responsibility for the decisions we make. These Conditions Reports are intended to help you make good decisions. They do not remove the need for you to make your own judgements when out in the hills.

Saturday, 26 July 2014

Over the water, baking in the sun even at 8am, the Cuillin Ridge is an awesome sight. Tony and I set off for our traverse of the 11 Munros by boat from Elgol yesterday morning knowing it was going to be a long, hot, dry slog. We were right!

We started very well hydrated but even then we had each drunk 2ltrs of water by the time we got to Coire a'Grunda. A long rest at the spring there was needed with another litre or two to drink and a fill up before we could carry on to Sgurr Alasdair. We met few people on the tops which was a bit of a surprise with the great weather. One group stayed at the loch which looked very inviting.

We managed to keep going but the heat and the continuous technical ground was having an impact so we called it a day in Coire na Banachdich. There is plenty of water not far down this coire and some very nice bivi ledges. Unfortunately it was a terrible night, despite being dry and calm.

In the warm and calm conditions the midges were fierce. You can often count on a gentle breeze on the ridge to keep them away but last night there was nothing. I've never seen so many midges on the Cuillin and due to the heat of the sun it was too hot to get right inside the bivi bags too! Torture. We were very close to quitting the ridge and walking down.

Thankfully we persevered and survived the night. This morning was dry and cloudy so it was much cooler. If it had been like this yesterday we would probably have got further along the ridge yesterday. Sgurr a'Greadaidh is always a favourite of mine and today it was as spectacular as ever.

However with wet weather coming in at noon and a long way to go we decided to go as far as Sgurr a'Mhadaidh and descend by An Dorus. This was a good move since the rain came in early and was very heavy this afternoon. The Cuillin traverse is always an emotional roller-coaster and it was like this for Tony this time. However he is much better prepared for next time when he comes back to complete the traverse with experience of the ridge at its best and the scale of the challenge it presents.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Another scorching hot day and the last day of biking with Kate and Sue. We went to Ardverikie to ride a loop over the big col and down great single track to Loch Pattack. It's a big ride up with 600m of ascent but the trail is just about all rideable and it goes quite quickly. Mercifully there was a breeze at the col so we had a nice stop for a sandwich.

The run down the other side is a delightful 300m drop in 3.5km. It's a skinny wee bit of single track in a vast ocean of heather and unrideable ground. Today the ground was very dry so the going was good. I have ridden this after rain and it goes but it's a very wet experience.

The long loop back round to Lochan na h'Earba is a fast run on gently down hill double track in a huge landscape. It was so hot today that a wee dip in the loch was essential and even felt warm. So five days of brilliant biking with Sue and Kate in excellent weather. Five different adventures, miles and miles of excellent trails and great riding with none of it at a trail centre. Scotland is a great destination for mountain biking.

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

On paper, the Morvich loop should be a relatively short day. Our Tour of Ben Nevis was about 60km with 1600m of ascent. So the 27km of the Morvich loop should be quite simple. This is not the case! Apart from the first few flowing kilometres the going is tough all the way and it took us a full seven hours in the blistering heat today.

There is a good amount of pushing, udging, tumbling and grunting required on this trail. So much so that you start to query whether the balance of fun vs. effort is leaning the wrong way. Even with National Trust for Scotland doing an excellent job of path maintenance here there is a lot of hard work and little flowing biking to do.

However, if you like sustained, technical single track you know you have found an awesome trail when you reach the Gates of Affric. 550m of descent over many kilometres with continuous interest all the way down makes it about the best descent in Scotland. Well done to Kate and Sue for a great adventure today. It was hard won!