Deep inside the Black Cleft

On Wednesday I braved the deep snowy roads in Fife and headed up north to Inverness where I met up with Guy Robertson. He dumped all his kit in my car and we set off towards Skye.
Thankfully the roads on the west weren’t as bad as they where on the east and we made good time, arriving at our intended sleeping spot on the VERY cold Isle of Skye by 9pm. We sorted our climbing kit for the next day and swiftly settled down to sleep in the back of my car. Temperatures supposedly reached -20 that night but thankfully it didn’t have much affect on me as I had my snugly down Vaude sleeping bag to hide away in (hope you like the product placement I did there).
Sun rising on the Cuillins
When the alarm rang at 3am the stars where still out in full force and there seemed to be very little wind. I could tell it was going to be a good day, as we ate some food the thought of the up and coming days antics was giving me butterflies in my stomach. Once we were kitted up and ready to go we started walking along the path towards the Cuillin Ridge, while all the time the big looming buttresses in the surrounding area where just visible in the pitch dark and seamed to be looming down on us from above.
As we reached the top of the ridge the sun was just starting to rise above the hills and this gave us the opportunity to scope out our decent and observe what routes where in winter condition. Unfortunately our intended routes weren’t in nic, but one of our back up lines was! 
We did a route called “Black Cleft” which hadn’t had a winter ascent before. Even though it was a last hope option the route was totally awesome and gave a good variety of wall climbing and winter chimneying. The route was sustained but never super difficult so we decided to give it VI/7 *** and we both agreed that it was one of the most enjoyable routes we had done in a while.
Guy approaching the route

Above; Me pulling over the last roof exiting the chimney

Once we were back on the ridge we sorted our kit in the beaming sun with a spectacular view of the Scottish islands and the Cuillin ridge with its surrounding mountains. We took some pictures and then set off on a leisurely decent back to the car whilst the sun set behind the Isle of Rhum.
We arrived back to the car as night was just setting in and we were both pleased to be back before it was dark and to get going swiftly so it wasn’t to late on the drive home. Unfortunately my car battery wasn’t playing ball and my car was struggling to start. After a lot of swearing and persistent turning of the key we realised that nothing was happening. We where literately in the middle of nowhere and there was only one house within 5 miles of us……. so off we walked. Thankfully there was someone home and the local farmer was very friendly. After asking us all about our days climbing and telling us stories of his current adventures he gave us a jump start and the car was ready to rock.

The roads where still free of snow and we got back to Inverness in very little time, I dropped Guy back at his car and headed to my friends (James Dunn) house in Aviemore. I slept there last night and I’m about to head west again to Fort William to climb on the Ben tomorrow. Hopefully it will be as good as our day on Skye.

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