Classic RCJ Articles: Skye’s Cuillin Ridge in Summer

After Joe Fisher’s slideshow of his winter traverse of the Cuillin Ridge (still available in the Virtual Meets Gallery) I thought we could look back at some summer expeditions along this magnificent ridge. Basil Goodfellow in the 1925 Journal (click here) after providing a convincing case for tackling the traverse from south to north (Gars-bheinn to Sgurr nan Gillean) then gives timings and tips for his own crossing with Frank Yates in the opposite direction! Goodfellow also mentions the fast traverse by Somervell. This was particularly remarkable: not only did Somervell extend the route from Gillean to Sgurr na h-Uamha but, after the first half where he was accompanied by Rucksacker Graham Wilson, he soloed the rest of the ridge including Naismith’s route on the Bhasteir Tooth.

Howard Somervell is better known for his exploits on two Everest expeditions, partnering Norton on the second summit attempt in 1924. On 29 May 1953 when two other guys were topping out on Everest, Ted Courtenay and Vin Desmond were heading from Manchester to Glen Brittle on Ted’s BSA 350. You can read about their epic attempt on the Cuillin Ridge in the first part of this article from RCJ 1954. In view of the atrocious weather they encountered it’s amazing that they got as far as they did; would they have made it if they’d worn nails instead of the new-fangled vibrams? Read on to the second part of the article to find out how three weeks later Vin teamed up with David Legg and Ron Smith to successfully complete an overnight traverse of the Ridge.

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