Suidhe Biorach – Climbing OVER the Sea ON Skye

The cold snap and prevailing northerlies were forecasted to last for a few days adding bouts of heavy rain into the mix. The usual browsing of weather apps turned up a quirky dry patch over Skye (on at least some of them, anyway!) so we abandoned a damp Ballachulish and headed north, riding a wave of optimism. Sure enough, pulling into a lay-by above Kyle of Lochalsh, we were rewarded with this splendid vista:You normally associate climbing on Skye with the Black Cuillin; its famous Ridge traverse or the gabbro of Sron na Ciche. With single figure max temperatures and high winds at sea level, the big hills would clearly be out of nic for a while, so we decided to explore the huge wealth of seacliff climbing instead, starting with Suidhe Biorach near Elgol.We broke the journey at another stunning overnight spot, on the banks of Loch Slapin beneath the west side of Bla Bheinn, with a clear view of The Great Prow (another crag that’s been on the tick list for far too long!)Elgol lies at the end of a peninsula, only 15 miles from Broadford but about 45 minutes of single track. Winding down into the tiny village we were amazed by the amount of traffic generated by the two pleasure boats ferrying tourists around the bay and into Loch Coruisk.The crag is an easy 20 minutes flat walk south along the headland (there is a bit of a path – sticking fairly near to the coast) and is pretty easy to spot from above.Stunning seacliff rock architecture backed by views into the Black Cuillin.The obvious corner of the classic Jamie Jampot, VS, is a good way marker and provides easy abseil access to the ledges at the base of the crag. Excellent jamming and bridging.Traversing further (climber’s) rightyou reach a steep wall bounded by two huge overhanging prows. Angel of Sharkness, HVS takes a crack and then pockets up this improbable territory, but the Jurassic quartz sandstone provides numerous surprising jugs to give a stupendous route – definitely 3*. Hairy Mary, just right, hints at the coating of sea-lichen on much of the crag, but this doesn’t detract from the experience.We finished off with Crack of Zawn, HVS, which takes the impressive wall just left of the abseil,and topped out just as a squall approached off the sea – time for a quick retreat! An outstanding day, climbing OVER the sea ON Skye!

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