Mam says I'm not allowed to take one more photo until I get some of the processing backlog cleared.
On Sunday we were up at the crack of dawn again and off to the Isle of Skye. I'm getting to know that road (and the Pass) quite well as I've been on it so many times! This time, it was a shorter drive as we were to climb a small(ish) hill from the east side so only 60 miles. As we left early there was very little traffic and we were all booted up and ready to go by 9:30 am.
Well, I couldn't see a thing as the mist was down and I might as well have been blind - not much fun for a lens. However, Mam knew where she was going so headed up a path and after a while took off to the right and into the unknown. It was pretty boggy after all the rain but as we started climbing the going got better and some of the surrounding hills started to show up out of the cloud.
Taken from our ascent, this is the path up to Mam's favourite Munro (Bla Bheinn) and she may take me up there if/when I come back for another visit.
But our hill was still shrouded in mist and I knew things were getting serious when the walking poles got packed into the backpack. Mam had to scramble all the way to the minor top. It was great fun and, although there were bits of path, she avoided them and stayed on the rocks. It was all Grade 1 or ungraded so not too much exposure. As we approached the minor top we saw a sheep with a small lamb (1-2 weeks old) - wow, at this time of year! No photos with Nifty as it was too far away.
The cloud was lifting above us and by the time we reached the summit (720m) it was clear with just some banks of cloud above and sometimes, below us. Magic! This hill is not frequented very often for two reasons: first it isn't categorized in its own right as it's so close to some of the other big hills, and second, it has a 10-15m (20-30ft) slab that's not negotiable by non-climbers. So, Mam had decided to just return the way we had come, until meeting a family on the top. Here they are posing for Nifty.
As you can see the couple had a young boy and Mam asked them if they were continuing along the ridge. They were and they said The Slab was nothing to worry about. In fact, the woman said, the first time she was up here she had done the slab without even noticing it. What!!??!! Well, after hearing that there was no way Mam wasn't going that way too.
The family heading off toward The Slab. The hill we climbed earlier in the week is approx. centre of the ridge in the distance.
Mam and I fought off the midges and had lunch at the very lovely summit with all the majestic hills around us.
Looking back, this is the last part of the ascent from the minor top. You can see the sheep at the bottom of the photo and the road is a long way down!
https://flic.kr/p/KxoXRDSgurr nan Each with Nifty-5 by Annie MacDonald, on Flickr
This is the hill next door (Belig) and you can see our house on the mainland 20 miles away. Top right in the light blue area just below the cloud.
https://flic.kr/p/LrcZHYSgurr nan Each with Nifty-6 by Annie MacDonald, on Flickr
I could have stayed up there all day (if the breeze had held - midges hate a breeze) but Mam said we had to get going and I could feel she was a wee bit tense thinking of The Slab. The going definitely got tougher and after a bit of up and down - there it was below us. It looked like you were standing on the top of the roof of your house and you had to somehow get down to the bottom without seeing the ground. (There's an overhang at the bottom.) It looked horrendously steep and dangerous but somehow, it never entered her head to turn back.
Most of the Skye Cuillin are comprised of gabbro rock. It's great for walking on as one's boots almost stick to it and it's almost impossible to slip on the rock itself. However, The Slab is not gabbro and looked very slippery to Mam. But, on the left side (right in photo) there was some gabbro that looked like it was possible to use as a bypass. That's what we did. But Mam got jelly legs and it was very exposed with small hand and foot holds. I was panicking in the backpack - I knew Mam well enough to know this wasn't normal! She was almost hyper-ventilating! Anyway we almost got to the bottom but then we were too far over to the left (right in photo) and the base of The Slab comprised a 30 - 60cm (1-2 foot) bit of grass with huge drop-off on both sides. Well, she saw a tiny foot-hold and stepped down putting all her weight (plus 9kg backpack with me in it!) on it hoping it would hold - it did and we are still here to tell the tale! Whew! And we were down - pretty shaken but safe. The relief was palpable. Here is a link to a photo (not taken by me). The Slab
We then came to an insurmountable tower but to cut a long story short - Mam found a bypass eventually and then we were on familiar ground.
This was to be our descent route - the scree from centre down to bottom left. Mam had previously climbed up here so she knew it was safe. Also, we are back on ground that is well-documented and traversed by many climbers and walkers.
https://flic.kr/p/LjLf5hSgurr nan Each with Nifty-7 by Annie MacDonald, on Flickr
View across to the main Cuillin ridge with clouds above and below us.
https://flic.kr/p/KxdDSJSgurr nan Each with Nifty-9 by Annie MacDonald, on Flickr
More to follow ...
Another fantastic story, Annie and the pictures are truly breath-taking. I could feel the clouds
Carry on, young lady. Looking forward to more shots from your beautiful country