Bob Wightman

Gear Tips for the Cuillin Ridge

This is a list of gear for two people attempting the Cuillin Ridge on Skye. To many this appears to be a very minimal set of gear. Where is the bivouac kit such as bivvy bag, karrimat etc? Well if you are carrying that sort of kit you will end up needing it and the chances are that you will not succeed in completing the traverse. Light is right!!

Much of the kit here serves more than one purpose: “Why carry two items when one will do?” As an instance of this standard 8ft tape loops may be used as a temporary harness for abseiling. Much lighter than a full harness! Or, when climbing simply tie the rope directly around your waist

The numbers in square brackets relate to the notes at the foot of the page

This list is kit to be shared between a pair of climbers.

  • One 9mm rope of 45metre length.
  • 2 x 8ft slings
  • A few (less than six) medium to large nuts. [1]
  • A couple of spare krabs.

The gear below is personal kit.

  • Running shoes such as Walshes are much more comfortable than full walking boots.[2]
  • Lightweight trousers such as Ron Hills or some of the pertex type trousers.
  • Thermal vest or t-shirt. Much better than cotton.
  • Small (<20L) rucksack. A camelbak style sack is ideal since these contain a bladder that can hold upto 3 litres of water. Remember that the bigger the sack the greater the temptation to carry more gear “just in case”.
  • Lightweight waterproof. [3]
  • A spare pair of socks. These can double up as gloves if need be.
  • A warm hat.
  • A belay plate such as the DMM Bettabrake, doubles up for abseiling. [4]
  • Trail food

1. Rock Gear: The rock on the rock climbing sections of the ridge is generally sound and well cracked and suited to medium to larger size nuts. Friends and other camming devices are overkill for the ridge. Plus they weigh quite a bit.

2. Fell running shoes: Makes such as Walshes have rather aggressive sole patterns but they wear down quite quickly and are surprisingly good on rock in this state. Using just one pair of shoes means that you aren’t wasting time changing in and out of rock boots plus you don’t have to carry them for the walking/scrambling bits.

3. Waterproof: I’d take something like a Pertex top - if the weather is going to be so poor that you need something substantial then you aren’t going to be going onto the ridge. You only need something to keep you dry(ish) on the way back to the valley.

4. Belay Plate: You could use waist belay and abseil techniques or even learn the Alpine Hitch, but for the sake of just a few grammes this is one “luxury” that I’d take with me.