The Black Cuillin. The name alone conjures powerful images and feelings for those who know the mountains. There are 12 Munros on Skye, 11 of those are connected to the Cuillin ridge. They represent some of the most challenging peaks in the UK and most involve technical skills using ropes to reach the summit. The twelfth Skye Munro is Blabheinn (Blaven). Situated away from the main ridge it is a black Cuillin in geology and character alike.
An ascent of Blabheinn is a fantastic day out – although it doesn’t ordinarily require the use of a rope, its steep rocky nature make it a significant challenge.
The route up is a tale of two halves. Blabheinn’s exceptionally well-maintained easy gradient path lures you up its slopes towards the mid-way boulder. From then on the mountain’s character changes: with steep rocky ground, gullies, staggering near-vertical, drops, loose rock and often soaring eagles, you suddenly forget the path you’ve left behind. You often have to pack away the walking poles and free up your hands for short sections of scrambling. The many deceiving worn tracks make it easy to end up off-route for the unaware.
As the ascent continues, the few breaks in the terrain offer a welcome pause to enjoy the sensational views and position. The gradient eases on the final approach to the trig point, yet nothing prepares you for the views that appear over the summit’s horizon. The day’s challenge fades away as you take in the beauty and complexity of the Cuillin ridge, and the other stunning 360-degree views.
Descent is often via the same route, but just as much care should be taken in descent as on the way up. It’s only really when you’re back at the boulder that the achievement really sinks in. A fantastic route, a physical challenge and a Skye Munro ticked off. Only one question remains: what next?