Speed Record on Skye's Cuillin Ridge


Es Tressider descending the Inaccessible Pinnacle during his record crossing of the Cuillin Ridge.

Taking advantage of an extended spell of excellent weather in the United Kingdom, Es Tressider smashed the record for traversing the Cuillin Ridge on Scotland’s Isle of Skye on May 4. Tressider, a climber and mountain runner from Edinburgh, completed the seven-mile route in 3 hours 17 minutes 28 seconds, about 15 minutes faster than the previous best. 

Although its highest summit is just 3,255 feet above sea level, the Cuillin Ridge is Britain’s premier mountain traverse and is usually done in one to two long days. As Tressider says, “It’s probably the slowest seven miles you’ll ever run.” The traverse crosses nearly two dozen peaks or pinnacles over 3,000 feet and requires about 10,000 vertical feet of ascent and descent. There are several fifth-class sections (up to about 5.6), including a downclimb from the Inaccessible Pinnacle that is normally rappelled. But it’s the many hundreds of feet of exposed scrambling that really keep runners on their toes. “The more dangerous bit is that you’re moving over very, very exposed ground, and it’s less technical than the climbing sections but you’ll be moving over it much faster,” Tressider says. 

Speed records are timed between the summit of first peak, Gars-bheinn, and the summit of Sgurr nan Gillean, the final peak. (The day’s effort thus also includes a 3,000-vertical-foot warm-up approach from sea level and subsequent descent.) Tressider broke the record held by Andy Hyslop, who first set the mark at 4 hours 4 minutes in 1984 and had chiseled it down to 3 hours 32 minutes by 1994. Tressider made at least two attempts and reconned sections of the ridge during other visits in preparation for his record-breaking crossing. 

See video from Tressider’s October 2006 attempt at www.hotaches.blogspot.com

Date of Ascent: May 4, 2007 

Sources: www.es-on-ice.co.uk, www.rockfax.com/areas/area.php?id=1006, www.hotaches.blogspot.com.

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