First Sea Kayaking at Skye of 2019

Last weekend saw the first sea kayaking trip at Skye of the 2019 season. In the team were to girls from Denmark, who felt at home once in the kayak. Even though the waves were pretty choppy right after passing through the Skye bridge the coped really well. We concluded that it must be the Viking heritage.

We paddled from Kyleakin to Pabay and then after a very short lunch break, we crossed over to the Crowlin Islands. The crossing was a bit of a tough job but after 1 1/2 hours we were there and continued to Uags bothy. Straight away we were greeted by 3 lads from Glasgow. The evening was just as jolly with everyone sitting in front of the fire.

The next morning we kayaked east in really calm conditions to a salmon fish farm and then to Port Lunge. There we had a lunch break. After that we continued along the magnificent coast back to Kyleakin. We also made a wee stop to say hello to some seals.

Old Kayak gets a Revamp

You would hardly notice it but this kayak is now 18 years old. I’ve done already a few jobs on it like replacing the skeg and working on the seat. However, over the years I have managed to get a few cracks on the hull and deck.

With the weather this nice, I have started grinding out the cracks, filled them with new gelcoat and sanded it down. Since I got on really well with it I gave it a red trim and replaced all the decklines. I also polished up the deck and then put everything back together. After 8 years I also thought the kayak deserved a name. To stick with the nose theme I started with my kayak Loki I decided to call it “Heimdallr”.

I have to say that the red trim and deckline on the yellow kayak looks now pretty awesome.

First Sea Kayaking Trip of 2019

Last weekend saw our first sea kayaking trip of the season. And boy it was a challenge. We had pretty strong winds coming in from the north. That meant that we had limited options to paddle but stilled managed a group of 6 girls from Edinburgh to get to Glencoul bothy. Unfortunately the weather got worse on Sunday and it was very apparent that paddling was not an option. Therefore the group had a walk to the highest free-falling waterfall of Scotland and another walk towards Glendubh bothy.

In the evenings we enjoyed some good food, drinks and even better company.

Fortunately, the forecast for Monday was much better and we made the most of it by paddling into Loch Glendubh and to the bothy there. After a quick lunchbreak it was off again and back to Kylesku, where we finished the trip.

New Sea Kayaks

We were planning for the last year to expand our fleet of composite kayaks by 2 more boats this year. We bought 2 brand spanking new Venture Kayak Capella.

The Capella reminds me of my first sea kayak, which was a P&H Capella RM 166. These new boats are a 163 for a smaller paddler and a 167. I hope they will serve us well.

Video from our 2-6 February Winter Course

A video made by Alex Harrison who took part on one of our 5 day winter mountaineering courses.

I don’t remember the spindrift to look this pleasant though. Maybe I was too busy looking at my feet when I walked, especially coming out of the Coire An T-Sneachda boulder field.

End of a Great Winter Season

This weekend was the last winter course we have run and I’m proud to say that we have introduced 53 people to winter mountaineering. It has been a challenging winter from the start. There wasn’t a lot of snow to start with in January and as much as fell in February it was just skin deep and fizzled away in a few days of rain and high temperatures. From mid-February, we had 2 figure temperatures even on the summit of Cairn Gorm but still managed to find enough snow to run all the planned courses. Everyone on our courses went away with a buzz.

Here are some statistic for this winter season.

Booked on a 2 day Winter Skills Course: 36
Booked on a 5 day Winter Mountaineering Course: 14
Booked on a bespoke trip or course: 3
Number of winter courses/trips (combined):13

New Kit for 2019 Summer Season

We are always trying to improve what we offer on equipment and have only the highest quality kit. So we bought a few new bits of equipment for the new Summer season.

Some of the new kit are a MSR Hubba Hubba NX tent. That would be in addition to our already existing MSR Access 2 and MSR Remote 2 tents.

We also replaced all Therm A Rest All Season SV with XTherm Max. The Speed Valve on the All Season was really good for pumping up but it was too much hassle to explain it to everyone and even then it sometimes wasn’t used properly and resulted in loosing air at night. The XTherm Max have a standard valve and a pump sack. That should be a lot easier to use.

Therm A Rest has unfortunately stopped selling the Quadra chairs. Therefore we got 2 more Uno chairs. They are just as comfortable, you just sit a little lower.

The one thing we really look forward to using is the Esbit BBQ. It’s a fold-able stainless steel BBQ. It packs down small enough to fit in a sea kayak and is big enough to have several burgers fizzling away on the grill.

Is Winter Back?

After a 1 month absence of Winter with inversions and two figure temperatures on summits we seem to have winter back. The snow cover has recovered and it all looks and feels very wintry. The Winter skills course this weekend was pretty good with 2 people on it so we could get through the skills pretty well. On Sunday we had very poor visibility from late morning and the wind started to pick up too. This was just like the forecast predicted.

Or is it only temporary Winter? The temperatures are forecast to raise again. But then I only need enough snow for 2 more courses and we certainly have enough about to cover that.

Avalanche Awareness

This was long due for me. I joined an avalanche awareness course, which was organised by the Chris Walker Memorial Trust. What a great course. In the morning we had a look at the theory of avalanches and some interesting statistics. in the afternoon we headed up to Coire an Lochain and made a large snow pit to look at different layers. Even considering the mild conditions we had in the last few days with a lot of the snow gone we still managed to find 4 layers in that old snow pack.

Proper Winter Conditions

This week has seen some really good winter conditions. We had a good cover of snow in most areas and even the Cairngorm Ski area is planning to open the top runs for the first time this season. There is still hope for a good winter.

The walk in to Ciste Mhearad was a bit challenging with white out conditions just before we got in. And I managed to dunk my right boot all the way into a snow covered stream. We made it up there in good time and managed to dig a comfy snowhole within 3 hours. Not the fastest I have done but it was pretty good timing.