Wednesday 22 July 2020

Sleeping on Suilven

Suilven and I have unfinished business.


Years ago (twenty-six years ago in fact!), I climbed Suilven on a March day of deep snow and sunshine, the kind of day you gladly endure a week of rain to experience. But just below the top, little balls of snow rolled spontaneously and continuously down from the summit. It looked like it could avalanche at any moment. I refused to go further. And so we contented ourselves with a sunbathe in the snow before heading back down for a night in the bothy. I would have to return. I didn't realise it would be twenty-six years.

But here we were, in 2020, looking for an experience to kick-start the end of the hillwalking lockdown.

Approach walk:

The plan was ambitious, but beyond the hard grind it had several points in its favour. Camp on the top of Suilven. A high camp gave us the best chance of avoiding midges. A late/early start would avoid the crowds who, in these NC500 staycation times, are surely drawn to this internationally famous peak. And watching a spectacular sunrise and sunset from the top of Suilven would be, as I said excitedly to my friends,
"a once-in-a-decade experience!"
It didn't quite work out like that.

High camp, Suilven:

Having spent a cold, wet night, we lay around a while waiting for the weather to improve, but at 9am we gave up and headed back down.

Which was when this happened...

"I'm going back to the top," I said to my friends, who decided to carry on downhill, missing this:

The cloud never stopped swirling around but, if I am honest, it added something special...

One day, I'd like to head over to Suilven's second summit as well. But it was time to catch up with my companions. The day had been a wonderful gift.

Suilven from the walkout to Lochinver:


blueskyscotland said...

Glad it cleared up in the end. That hill under snow really surprised me by how hard the traverse along it was. Some very exposed scrambling I was not really expecting on that other peak. A fantastic hill and a good bothy.

Chris said...


Robert Craig said...

Thanks Chris, and that's a hard enough traverse without snow Alex/Bob!