Skye Cuillin

The most famous mountains in Britain

The Skye Cuillin needs little introduction, this beautiful mountain range is famous worldwide. It is located on The Isle of Skye, an easily accessible island off the west coast of Scotland. A mountaineer’s dream, this area has world class climbing, scrambling, walking and scenery. Separated by Glen Sligachan, The Black Cuillin and the Red Cuillin have their own distinct character. The Black Cuillin, commonly referred to as The Cuillin Ridge, is the most iconic and challenging ridge in the UK. The Red Cuillin, mainly made of granite, have a much gentler and rounded appearance and are popular with hillwalkers. Whether your aspirations on Skye are to summit the munros, experience the excellent scrambling and climbing or to tackle the full ridge, we can help.

Privately Guided from £80 per person

We offer a private guiding service based in the North West of Scotland. Priding ourselves on our local knowledge, experienced guides can help you achieve your mountaineering goals. We can help you explore the Cuillin from ‘bagging’ Munros to seldom done remote scrambles or a full traverse.

To find out more see our ratios and pricing information

Island Location

the Black Cuillin on the Isle of Skye are relativley recently formed volcanic mountains. They provide some of the finest mountaineering in the whole of the UK. Skye itself is a popular tourist destination with the villages of Broadford, Portree and Carbost the most popular bases for those attempting the Cuillin. There are also campsites at the foot of the montains in Glen Brittle and Sligachan.

Approaching the top of the Inaccessible Pinnacle

The Munros

There are 12 munros on Skye in total, each with its own unique character, difficulty and beauty. Each of the munros presents it’s own set of challenges to reach the summit. Route finding is notoriously tricky and many require good rope work to safely ascend. It is common for even the most experienced hill walkers to make use of local guides to ensure a successful and enjoyable day out. Whether you are looking to bag your very first summit or your very last, we can help.

Find out more about the Cuillin Munros

Climbs and Scrambles

For some people mountaineering is less about reaching the top and more about how you get there. Skye boasts some of the best scrambling and mountaineering routes in the UK. Whether you have a particular scramble/climb in mind or you are just looking to experience why Skye has its incredible reputation. Let us guide you on some truly memorable and exceptional routes.

Read more about some of the climbs and Scrambles we can help you complete

Ridge Traverse

OFor those who wish to take on the ultimate mountaineering challenge in the UK. Taking an average of 20 hours (split over 2 days and spending 1 night bivvying out on the ridge). A full traverse of the Black Cuillin should not be underestimated! All our guides are friendly and qualified, and they will give you the best possible chance of success.

Find out more about completing a Black Cuillin Traverse

The Skye Munros

We try to offer as much flexibility to our customers as possible. You may be heading to Skye on holiday and simply wish to complete 1 munro as part of your experience of the island. Alternatively, you may be a dedicated munro bagger hoping to reach the summit of all 12 in 4 consecutive days. Perhaps you are somewhere in between. Whatever your dreams are for The Skye Munros, we can help.

Individual Munros

Below is a little bit of information about each of the individual Skye Munros, as well as a popular route option. Many alternative routes are available, if you have a particular route choice in mind just let us know.

Sgurr Dearg – The Inaccessible Pinnacle (986m)

One of the most dramatic and popular munro’s on Skye, Sgurr Dearg is famous for The Inaccessible Pinnacle (or In Pinn for short). The In Pinn is an incredible rock formation on the very top of the summit of the mountain. It is the reason Sgurr Dearg is notorious for being the most difficult of munros. The East Ridge of The In Pinn is a 65 metre “Moderate” graded rock climb, for the vast majority of people this is the ascent. The West Ridge is an 18 metre “Severe” graded rock climb, this is the side we will abseil down from the summit.

Sgurr Alasdair (992m)

This is the highest mountain on Skye, also making it the highest summit of any UK island. There are various different route options. The least technical ascent would be to follow The Great Stone Shoot (a scree gully) to a col below the main ridge. Followed by a good grade 2 scramble up to the summit.

Sgurr a’ Ghreadaidh (973m)

This is the highest of the middle peaks in the Cuillin, and also one of the hardest. Although there are multiple routes to the summit the most straightforward ascent is from the col of An Dorus. From here an excellent grade 3 scramble, followed by a section of easier scrambling leads to the summit. Some people like to combine this munro with Sgurr a Mhadaidh as the two are in close proximity.

Sgurr na Banachdaich (965m)

Sgurr an Banachdaich is often regarded as one of the easier summits in The Cuillin. Its most straightforward ascent is from Coir’ nan Eich and requires no scrambling. This munro is an excellent introduction to The Cuillin for those looking for a less technical mountain. Located halfway along the ridge, it provides incredible views of the other munros both to the north and south.

Sgurr nan Gillean (964m)

Sgurr nan Gillean is considered the finest peak in the Cuillin by many. There are multiple ways up including Pinnacle Ridge (one of Skye’s Classic scrambles), but the simplest route is via Coire Rhiabhach. The ascent to the coire is on loose rock and scree but further up excellent scrambling leads to the summit. From which you will be rewarded with incredible views in all directions.

Bruach na Frithe (958m)

The summit of Bruach na Frithe is considered one of the easiest and also one of the finest viewpoints in the Black Cuillin. It is also the only summit in the Cuillin Ridge with a trig point. The simplest and most popular ascent is via Fionn Coire, which requires no scrambling. Alternatively, for those who would prefer a scrambling option we can tackle the Northwest Ridge. A bypass path can be used to remove some of the difficulty of the scramble, therefore it is a possible descent option as well.

Scrambling on Sgurr Mhic Choinnich

Sgurr Mhic Choinnich (948m)

Also known as Mackenzie’s Peak, Sgurr Mhic Choinnich was named after local mountain guide John Mackenzie. It is regarded as one of the most challenging summits in the Cuillin. The simplest approach is via Coire Lagan and up the An Stac scree slopes. From here a challenging grade 2 scramble up the north ridge leads to the summit. For those wishing for a climbing route, the south face of the mountain is famous for the King’s Chimney (V. Diff rock climb).

Sgurr Dubh Mor (944m)

Located at the southern end of The Cuillin Ridge the most popular ascent route follows a path into Coire a’ Ghrunda. After heading up to Bealach a’ Garbh-choire, we follow the main ridge to Sgurr Dubh an Da Bheinn. Followed by a scramble up to the summit itself. A fantastic alternative route can be taken from Loch Coruisk. This route, called The Dubh Slabs, involves more sustained climbing as well as an abseil.

Am Bastier (934m)

Am Bastier, meaning ‘The Executioner’ is a formidable mountain. It is easily identified by its remarkable feature “The Basteir Tooth”, a jagged piece of rock protruding from the side of the mountain. The most popular (and simplest) route choice is an exposed and excellent scramble up the west ridge from the Bealach Bhasteir. Alternatively, this mountain can be climbed using graded rock climbing routes, the most well-known being the “Bad Step” (graded at Severe).

Blabheinn (Blaven) (928m)

Considered by many as one of the most beautiful mountains in the UK, Blavan is an outlier to the rest of the Black Cuillin. Containing all the character of the mountains of the main ridge, yet it’s location (not of the ridge itself) offers a fine vantage point over the rest of the mountains on Skye. It is also one of the easier munros on the island. The most popular ascent is from Loch Slapin. Initially this route is on a good path. However, a mixture of rough ground, loose stones, a scree gully and some mild scrambling to the very top make for an excellent and varied day out.

Sgurr nan Eag (924m)

The most southerly peak along the Cuillin Ridge, this mountain offers incredible sea views. It is often combined with Sgurr Dubh Mor, although this is certainly not essential. Being the more straightforward of the two mountains tackling it by itself makes for a much easier day out. The most popular route heads up from Coire Ghrunnda, ascending almost directly up a steep boulder field. The boulders are slow-going and awkward, however they have exceptionally good friction. They are made of peridotite, which is a variant of the more commonly found gabbro in the Cuillin, it is even rougher than normal! From the ridge we can either take a scree path or head directly along a moderate scramble to the summit.

Sgurr a’ Mhadaidh (918m)

Sgurr a’ Mhadaidh (The Peak of the Fox) is commonly combined with Sgurr a’ Ghreadaidh, but it certainly can be tackled independently if preferred. The most popular ascent route is from the col of An Dorus (The Door). From An Dorus the route is awkward and steep but it soon turns into an easier scramble. The route continues up more scree until we can scramble onto the crest of the ridge, from which the summit is soon reached. The mountain actually has four summits, but this first is the highest point (the only munro). The view from the top is superb, taking in Sgurr nan Gillean at the north end of the ridge, Loch Coruisk far below and the peaks of Sgurr Alasdair and the Inn Pinn. From the summit we return to An Dorus and then can either head up Sgurr a’ Ghreadaidh or simply head down.

Multiple Skye Munros & Cuillin Munro’s Courses

Each of the munro’s is a fantastic day out in itself. However, some people choose to combine multiple munros into one day. Below are some of the popular munro combinations (other combinations are possible too). If you are hoping to complete all the munros over 4 days (also known as a Cuillin Munros Course), combining all 4 days below would achieve exactly that.

The Southern Peaks: Sgurr nan Eag, Sgurr Dubh Mor & Sgurr Alasdair

Starting from Glen Brittle we use a mixture of paths and scree to reach Coire a’ Ghrunnda. This is the highest of the great Cuillin Coires. Before ascending further to gain access to the ridge itself. From here a straightforward out and back route will take us to the summit of Sgurr nan Eag, our first munro of the day. The scrambling then begins. We scramble down to the Bealach a Garbh-choire and pick our way up the formidable Sgurr Dubh Mor, our second munro. Some of the best views of the ridge can be seen from this narrow summit. Next more scrambling takes us down and around the coire until we reach Sgurr Alasdair. After enjoying this fine position, a final short section of scrambling takes us to The Great Stone Shoot from which we make our way back to Glen Brittle.

Sgurr Mhic Choinnich & The In Pinn

Starting at the Mountain Rescue Hut in Glenbrittle we head up the western spur of Sgurr Dearg. Climbing this provides a great warm up ready for The In Pinn. We always treat the In Pinn with the greatest of respect and guide it as a rock climb. You will be well looked after with ropes, harnesses and helmets to make sure you can fully enjoy this incredible experience. We abseil off The In Pinn, back to the summit of Sgurr Dearg. From here we descend to The Bealach Coire Lagan and easier ground takes us to the foot of Sgurr Mhic Choinnich. A narrow and exposed ridge takes us to the summit. We will follow that same ridge back to the bealach before descending down the An Stac Screes and out of Coire Lagan.

Abseil on the Inaccessible Pinnacle

The Middle Peaks: Sgurr na Banachdich, Sgurr a’Ghreadaidh & Sgurr a’Mhadaidh

Starting at The Glenbrittle Youth Hostel we head up alongside the stream that runs out of the Coire a’Ghreadaidh. After a short distance, we leave the main path and head up into Coire an Eich. Working our way up the scree leads to our first munro of the day; Sgurr na Banachdich. From here we scramble down to a col before continuing over Thormaid and around its ‘Teeth’. Next, we will tackle the south ridge of Sgurr a’Ghreadaidh to gain our second munro. This ridge provides the crux for the day (although easier than the In Pinn). From the summit more scrambling leads to An Dorus, a narrow notch in the ridge, from which we can head out and back to our final Munro for the day, Sgurr a’Mhadaidh. Once back at An Dorus a track takes us back to the Youth Hostel.

The Northern Peaks: Sgurr nan Gillean, Am Bastier & Bruach na Frithe

This day starts and finishes in Sligachan. We begin by heading across the Alt Dearg Mor and gradually work our way to the south east ridge of Sgurr nan Gillean. This scramble finishes on the ‘Table Top’ summit of Sgurr nan Gillean. The descent from here involves some more scrambling and an abseil to the bealach before Am Bastier. This formidable looking summit is infamous for ‘The Bad Step’. We will use a rope to manage this short downclimb and continue along easier ground to the summit itself. We descend from here back to the bealach before a short and easy ascent takes us to the top of our final munro, Bruach na Frithe. All that remains is to descend Coire a’ Bhastier back to Sligachan.

Skye’s Scrambles and Climbs

For those interested in Skye’s classic scrambles we can offer them all! Some of the most well-known are below. However, there are 100’s of amazing climbs and scrambles on Skye, and we couldn’t possibly list them all here. Therefore, if you need a guide for a route we haven’t listed, please do just let us know.

Pinnacle Ridge of Sgurr nan Gillean

One of the best scrambles in the UK, Pinnacle Ridge is an adventure not to be missed. This route follows the most challenging of the three main ridges to the summit of Sgurr nan Gillean. We start along the same path as the popular tourist route up the mountain, however, we head off right below the start of the Basteir gorge. After crossing a stream, exiting the gorge, we reach the base of the lowest pinnacle and the real fun begins! Pinnacle Ridge itself is made up of 4 pinnacles followed by the summit of Sgurr nan Gillean (sometimes referred to as the 5th pinnacle). It offers excellent scrambling throughout. The first 2 pinnacles have a mixture of grade 1 – 3 scrambling. The 3rd pinnacle involves grade 3 scrambling and a 22 metre abseil to descend. The 4th pinnacle “The Knights Peak” is also grade 3. One final challenging move remains to gain access to the final pinnacle (the summit) before a last scramble to the very top. A perfect Cuillin adventure, this route is given 3 stars and a climbing grade of Difficult in guide books.

Clach Glas and Blaven Traverse

Often regarded as the Cuillin Ridge in miniature, The Clach Glas & Blaven Traverse is perfect for those who are looking for a one day alternative. Offering its own unique character, this is a truly fantastic ridge. We will begin by ascending up the shoulder of Sgurr nan Each, to the first section of scrambling. This grade 1-2 ridge is called the East-West Traverse and leads us up to the bealach between Sgurr nan Each and Clach Glas. From here, to reach the summit of Clach Glas itself we will follow the north ridge (graded a moderate rock climb). This is a spectacular scramble which is followed by an equally brilliant descent down the south ridge (again, graded a moderate rock climb). Next, we head up Blaven itself using “The 18m Chimney”, this is graded as a “difficult” rock route, but in reality is of a similar difficulty level to much of the rest of the day. The descent from Blavan is straight-forward, so you can simply enjoy the stunning views from this truly excellent adventure.

The Dubh Slabs

The Cioch

The Cioch needs little introduction, it was made famous by the classic 80’s film “Highlander”. It is the epic nose of rock on which Sean Connery famously had his sword fight. But this piece of rock has been a mecca for climbers since the early nineteen hundreds when it was first climbed by Professor Norman Collie and John Mackenzie. Unsurprisingly, there are multiple routes up this complex and impressive piece of rock. If you have a specific route in mind do just let us know. Otherwise, our most popular choice would be to ascend a mixture of Collie’s Route and Cioch Slab Corner, both brilliant and easy graded climbs (Mod and Diff). Descent is complex too and so we will use a variety of ropework techniques to keep you safe. This is a grand day out, full of brilliant climbing in a jaw dropping setting. There is a very good reason this rock feature is so famous.

The Dubh Slabs

If you are looking for a unique, all round adventure, then look no further than this. Situated in the wilds of Loch Courisk the easiest way to start this day is by catching the boat from Elgol. This will save us the 7 mile walk in along a rocky coastal path. Once we arrive at the base of the ridge we have almost 1km of unbelievably good moderate grade rock climbing to the summit of Sgurr Dubh Beag. Unsurprisingly, this is one of the longest climbing routes in the UK. From the summit we have a 25m abseil to take us to a small ledge, then further scrambling brings us out onto a bealach. From here we have a couple of options to end the day. We can either get the ferry back out to Elgol, and in which case we will head straight down some rough ground to the ferry port. The alternative would be to head up from the bealach to the summit of Sgurr Dubh Mor. Then follow the usual route from this munro back to Glen Brittle. This latter option would need to be planned in advance so that a car gets left in Glen Brittle.

The Cuillin Ridge Traverse

The Cuillin Ridge Traverse is world famous and on the very top of most British mountaineers list of achievements. This 12km ridge includes 22 peaks, plenty of grade 3 + scrambling, 3 (avoidable) Severe grade climbing pitches, 4000m) of ascent and decent and takes the average mountaineer 20 hours in total to complete (split over 2 days with 1 bivi out on the ridge). In short, the stamina and fitness needed to undertake this mountaineering feat is huge.

Our Approach

2 Day Traverse (but a 3 day weather window)

We guide the traverse over 2 full days with 1 night spent bivving out on the ridge. A traverse, on average, takes 20 hours to complete. Therefore, it is unrealistic to undertake this in one day! The first day is usually the longest taking around 12-13 hours, with the second day taking approximately 8-9 hours. In order to increase your chances of success we allocate 3 days for your booking. The traverse will take place on the 2 days whereby the weather forecast is most favourable. Having one day spare gives us a much greater chance of success due to the weather on Skye. You won’t be guided on this “rest” day, you are free to just relax and enjoy the island as you wish.

Tailored to you

In order to give you the best chance of success we carefully listen to your aspirations and requirements for a ridge traverse, because everyone is different. For some people successfully completing the traverse is the only goal. For others completing the three well known climbs (The TD Gap, The King’s Chimney and Naismith’s Route) is important. Others wish to start at the far southerly tip of the ridge. We consider all the above a successful traverse but it’s important for us to tailor the ridge to meet your own personal aims.

Qualify, Professional and Friendly Guide

We take your safety extremely seriously. Therefore, your guide will be a qualified Mountaineering and Climbing Instructor (MCI) as well as a member of The Association of Mountaineering Instructors (AMI). In addition, it’s important to us that your guide and the full booking process is friendly and approachable. We want you to enjoy every element of your traverse from the moment you book.

Experience and Fitness

In order to successfully complete the traverse you will need a high standard of fitness as well as some scrambling experience. Remember, this is certainly not a walk. The full ridge is considerably exposed and the scrambling is both technical and sustained. If you would like to discuss your suitability for a traverse please don’t hesitate to get in contact.

The Southern Cuillin

Logistics

Kit

For the best chance of success we highly recommend a lightweight approach. We will provide you with a comprehensive kit list on booking. However, to give you an idea we would expect your rucksack to weigh no more than 9kg/20lbs. This would include your overnight kit (bivi bag, sleeping bag, sleeping mat), waterproofs, hat and gloves, spare warm clothes, all food and water (2 litres) as well as a rope. We will give you plenty of information and advice on kit once we have received your booking.

Water

We recommend starting the traverse with 2 litres of water. Water is heavy and so increases the weight of your rucksack. Therefore, we will find places to refill water bottles on the ridge rather than carrying it all from the start. Do note, that there are very few water sources on the ridge and most are extremely well hidden. Your guide will know the locations of these water sources which is incredibly advantageous and will help to keep weight low.

Weather

Scottish weather is very fickle, it is impossible to predict in advance when the best time to undertake a traverse will be. Fantastic conditions are possible anytime between April and October. With May and September being the two months with the greatest chance of a good weather window. All our bookings are 3 days as standard to increase our opportunity for a successful traverse. If conditions are not suitable for a traverse, then your booking will become three separate days of private guiding. If you read through our Skye pages you will soon see that there really is so much this incredible location can offer as an alternative. Classic climbs such as Pinnacle Ridge, The Clach Glas and Blaven Traverse or The Dubh Slabs may be possible. There is also some incredible rock climbing on the various sea-cliff crags since better weather may be found away from the Black Cuillins. Unsuitable weather for a traverse does not mean you cannot have an incredible time in the mountains.

We will also waiver our overnight fee which will result in a £50 per person refund if no traverse attempt can be made.

Transport/Shuttles

There are multiple ways to start the ridge. The most traditional is to begin in Glenbrittle and end in Sligachan. Alternatively, we can catch the ferry from Elgol and begin at the foot of Gars-bheinn. Whichever the route, we will start and end in a different location. Therefore, transport both to the start and from the end will be needed. We will discuss with you the logistics of this in advance to avoid any uncertainty. We are very used to setting up shuttles, if lifts from partners and friends are not possible. There is always a simple solution and it is nothing to be concerned about.

Extra Days

If you would like to add extra days of guiding into your trip to Skye, this is no problem at all (In many ways we recommend it). We can, for example, offer a 4 or 5 day package. This will increase your possible weather window. The additional days will be spent enjoying some of the other incredible scrambling and climbing on the island. It will also give you more opportunity to prepare for the traverse by practising techniques, using kit and familiarising yourself with the rock on the island. Additionally, it could give us the chance to stash and retrieve kit along the ridge, reducing the weight of your rucksack for the traverse. Just let us know if you wish to include any additional days, we would be more than happy to help.

The Inaccessible Pinnacle

Ratios and Pricing

In order to provide the highest level of experience and safety I maintain low ratios for guided ascents. Below you can see the details. All trips are considered private bookings so you will not have to worry about the pace of others and will get a trip tailored to your individual needs.

Munros

* Our maximum ratio is 1:3 for all the munros accept; Bruach na Frithe, Sgurr na Banachdaich, Blabheinn, and The Inaccessible Pinnacle which we can offer at 1:4 provided they are tackled alone.
Ratio Scrambing and Climbing in the Cuillin
1:1 £250
1:2 £135 per person
1:3 * £95 per person
1:4 * £80 per person

Scrambles and Climbs

* Our maximum ratio for climbing in the Cuillin is 1:2 and for Scrambling is 1:3 (this would include doing the Munros), we do offer the Inaccessible Pinnacle at 1:4 as it’s possilbe to do as two laps with a ratio of 1:2 while climbing on it. We also offer any grade 1 scramble at 1:4.
Ratio Scrambing and Climbing in the Cuillin
1:1 £250
1:2 £135 per person
1:3 * £95 per person
1:4 * £80 per person

Traverse

We only offer ridge traverses as a ratio of 1:2.
Ratio Ridge Traverse
1:1 £800
1:2 £425 per person

A 50% deposit will secure your booking, with the remaining balance due 4 weeks in advance of your trip. Full payment is only required at the time of booking if you wish to book a date within the next 4 weeks.

What You Get

  • Fully qualified guide
  • Use of technical equipment where needed including ropes, harnesses and helmets
  • Kit List
  • Comprehensive joining instructions including local information

Fitness

Climbing and mountaineering in the Skye Cuillin requires a good level of fitness no matter what the aim. To enjoy the Cuillin you should have some prior experience of hill walking and a good head for heights. A normal day will last around 8 hours and include 1000m or more of ascent. A traverse and some days can be significantly harder. If you have doubts about your fitness please get in touch and we can discuss appropriate goals and plans for you.

Gear

You will need normal hill walking kit including sturdy footwear, waterproofs (jacket and trousers), food and warm clothing. Technical kit is available to borrow for your booking where required. Alternatively you are welcome to bring your own subject to inspection by your guide to ensure it’s safety. A complete kit list is provided with each booking. Traverses require extra overnight bivi kit, details of which will be provided with your booking.