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Clach Glas - Blaven Traverse

Blaven (pronounced Blah-ven) is on the south east of the Isle of Skye which is itself off the west coast of Scotland. Blaven’s Gaelic name is Blà Bheinn, the ”bh“ representing the letter ”v“ which is not present in the Gaelic alphabet. The meaning of the name is confused and variously documented as 'blue mountain', 'warm mountain', 'sunny mountain', 'mount of the blast' or 'hill of bloom'.

Blaven is one of the island’s twelve Munros - a Scottish mountain over 3,000 feet (914.4m) in height - and is the east most peak of the Black Cuillin. Separated from the main Cuillin range by Glen Sligachan, it is the highest of the surrounding mountains at 928m (3,044 feet).

Incidentally you should always refer to 'The Cuillin' (singular) and never 'The Cuillins' and never, ever diminish the magnificence and serious nature of these mountains by referring to them as in some books as 'The Cuillin Hills'.

  Clach Glas
     

Geologically Blaven consists primarily of gabbro sliced by sheets of dolerite, and in common with other mountains in the Cuillin, basalt dykes. This combination of rock has weathered at different rates giving Blaven its distinctive look. It also causes magnetic variation and care needs to be taken when navigating by compass.

This ridge may be tackled as an excursion divorced from the Cuillin Main ridge or alternatively it can be included as part of a Greater Traverse of the whole Cuillin Ridge horseshoe.

Traditionally the Greater Traverse, which extends the Great Traverse of the Cuillin Main Ridge to include Clach Glas and Blaven, misses out Garbh-bheinn; but logically and aesthetically it should be included. It is an integral part of the Clach Glas - Blaven ridge and, like them, is absolutely at one, geologically, with the great horseshoe of the Black Cuillin.

  Clach Glas and Blaven
     

The very strong and fit should be able to reach the summit of Blaven some 13 to 16 hours after leaving Gars-bheinn at the start of the 'Great Traverse'; but it needs to be emphasized that, because this extreme challenge will only be within the scope of the abnormally fit and competent, the concept of a standard 'guidebook time' is absolutely inapplicable.

For the traverse of the Clach Glas - Blaven ridge we follow the long and complicated crest of the ridge southwards towards the impressive summit tower of Clach Glas, descending south-east towards the final pinnacle and the grassy haven of the 'Putting Green'.

Continuing the traverse from the Putting Green, we progress to the broad and bouldery East Ridge and a final long slog of 85m (280ft) to the fine summit of Blaven and onwards along the nearly horizontal summit ridge for 300m to the South Summit.

  The Great Prow
     

From the South Summit, we take the fastest descent to Loch Slapin via the steep and loose terrain of the South-East Spur to reach the broad col at the head of Fionna-choire  before turning into Coire Uaigneich and joining the path of the Normal Route which leads to the road 3km away.

This is a magnificent gabbro summit and the traverse of Clach Glas to Blaven is a must for experienced rock climbers and high grade rock scrambling enthusiasts.

The traverse provides a relentless and airy scramble with awesome drops with the spectacular switchback of the main Cuillin ridge filling the Western Horizon.

On a clear day the panoramic views are simply breathtaking and will fully justify the efffort on this memorable excursion.

 

  Blaven from the shores of Loch Slapin

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