Martin Moran does winter solo of Cuillin Ridge
- Monday 10th August 2020 at 9.32am
March 10th; 2016
After 23hr 30 mins effort Martin Moran finally approached Glen Brittle Hut; his solo ascent of one of the most sought-after Scottish routes, The Cuillin Ridge in winter, was in the bag.
Break for Berocca, peanuts and jelly babies above Coire na Banachdich. Photo Martin Moran
After half a lifetime of climbing in Scotland and the greater ranges, as well as numerous summer traverses of the Cuillin, Martin Moran finally achieved his ambition on March 4th; a solo ascent of the Cuillin Ridge in winter. With over 3000m of ascent and decent along the 12km Rdge itself, difficulties up to grade IV can be encountered.
Writing on his blog Martin reveals his feeling on arriving at Glen Brittle Hut: “I strode into the blackened glen, dreaming I would see an array of parked cars at the hut, but alas, apart from the green glow of the fire safety light, the place bore no sign of life. I was too worn mentally to particularly care. The entrance offered a porch to keep me out of the wind and a bench seat provided a semblance of insulation. I loosened my boots, put on my down jacket, and stretched out in triumph. I had actually done it!”
Looking down Cor'uisk from Bealach a'Glaic Mhor - 7 hours in! Photo Martin Moran
Moran left a ‘comfortable professional life’ behind him, when he and his wife packed their bags and left Sheffield back in the 80’s. Since then he’s worked as a successful mountain guide as well as achieving a considerable number of personal climbing goals, not least: the first (single) winter navigation of the Scottish Munros in 83 days in 1984/5; the first non-stop self-propelled traverse of the Alpine 4k peaks with Simon Jenkins in 52 days in 1993; record-breaking summer runs across the Cuillin in 3hrs 33 mins in 1990; numerous first ascents in Scotland including winter routes up to VIII (Godfather); 14 first ascents in the Indian Himalaya as well as the first British ascent of Vettisfossen, Norway’s highest waterfall, in 2010.
In short, Moran mountaineering CV is one of the best around. And yet that he clearly ‘wanted’ a winter ascent of the Cuillin is testament both to the pull of the Cuillin and to the fact that he held it in such high esteem that he was so elated to bag a solo traverse after waiting for the ‘right conditions’ for thirty-odd year’s. Objectives such as the Cuillin Ridge in winter – whilst clearly not to be underestimated – are more about the ‘sum of the whole’, or as Martin told Climber; “it is an expedition where the aesthetic quality far outweighs any lack of extreme difficulty.”
View across Coire Lagan after completing In Pinn. Photo Martin Moran
Martin has published an excellent account of his solo traverse on his blog. Having waited for the ‘right conditions’, Martin describes the mist and near white-out conditions he encountered on his solo. It sounds harrowing to say the least – as well as physically exhausting. Click through here to read Martin’s account in full; as usual, it’s highly informative and well worth a read.
Incidentally, Martin has also told CLIMBER that “by coincidence, Simon Richardson, did a solo traverse the day after me. He took two days but had the same experience of fog and whiteout and of arriving back in Glen Brittle long after lights-out. He slept on the beach!”