Looking at the forecast at 5am this morning, I was close to staying at home. Weather warnings for strong winds and rain further south in Scotland stood out, as well as the 60mph wind speed with 70mph gusts on Sgurr Alasdair. This with a weather front arriving at lunchtime with heavy rain and a temperature of only just above freezing. It was not looking good.
Even when I arrived at Sligachan to meet Akshar I could easily have said that it was not worth trying, all things considered. I waited for the heaviest rain to clear and ran in to the hotel to chat about the chances of getting in any climbing at all.
The Cuillin in November are pretty wild. Like the rest of the Highlands in the second half of November strong winds and lots of rain are the norm. So, a forecast like this is not unusual. However, enthusiasm got the better of us and we went for a look. The wind was coming from the SE so we went to The Spur on Sgurr an Fheadain which points NW and is a couple of hundred metres lower than the main Cuillin Ridge. If it was sheltered anywhere it was going to be here.
But if it had been raining in the night the stream would have been impossible to cross high above the Fairy Pools. When we got to the Fairy Pools car park the attendant was keen to show us the forecast and to warn us off going high in the mountains. It was good advice.
But, against all odds, we stayed dry all day and the windiest place was in the car park!
The weather on Skye confuses me much of the time. This year I lost count of the times it was forecast to be dry on the ridge but ended up being in wet cloud with fine drizzle all day. This time, the apocalyptic forecast did not materialise and we had a very nice, dry and comfortable climb up The Spur. We didn't push our luck by going up to Bidean Druim nam Ramh, but I was tempted.
So Akshar got a perfect introduction to The Cuillin. We spent a day soaking up the unique atmosphere of the jagged, dark peaks, got to grips with the gabbro and learned to avoid the basalt and enjoyed a spectacular route (and awkward boulder strewn descent). Most importantly, Akshar now knows that the weather forecasts on Skye don't always work out as expected.
Self reliance is a fundamental principle of mountaineering. By participating we accept this and take responsibility for the decisions we make. These blog posts and 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.