Winter FKT of Scotland’s Cuillin Ridge Traverse

On Jan. 11, Matthew Pavitt set a new FKT (Fastest Known Time) for a winter traverse of the Cuillin Ridge, located in Scotland’s Isle of Skye.

He made it in 4 hours 35 minutes, and 17 seconds. That’s 20 minutes less than the earlier FKT set on Feb. 26, 2018 by Uisdean Hawthorn, who completed it in 4 hours and 57 minutes.

The Cuillin Ridge traverse is a climb that follows a continuous 12km ridge crest from start to end. The route traverses the main summits of the Black Cuillin Mountains on the Isle of Skye.

The traverse is considered one of Britain’s finest mountaineering challenges. It requires crossing more than 30 summits and usually takes about two days. The terrain includes around 3,000m of ascent and descent, with some difficult climbing pitches on the TD Gap, King’s Chimney, and the Inaccessible Pinnacle.

The full length of the Cuillin Ridge as viewed from Glen Talisker which lies to the west.

The full length of the Cuillin Ridge as viewed from Glen Talisker to the west. Photo:


Local climbers Leslie Shabolt and Alastair McLaren first did the traverse on June 10, 1911. They went from south to north in a little over 12 hours.

Pavitt started his north-south traverse at 10:29 am from Sgurr nan Gillean and finished at Gars-bheinn at 3:04 pm.

A photo from the Cuillin Ridge traverse.

During the Cuillin Ridge traverse. Photo: Matthew Pavitt


Too nice a day?

Pavitt wore crampons from start to end, did all the climbs, and included all the summits. Nevertheless, he felt obliged to apologize that the weather that day might not have been wintry enough.

”Were things rimed up to typical Scottish perfect expectations?” he wrote on social media. “No is the short answer. But equally, it didn’t really feel like summer or rock climbing at all.”

Finlay Wild holds the FKT of this traverse in a non-winter season. On Oct. 12, 2013, he did it in 2 hours, 59 minutes, and 22 seconds.

Kris Annapurna

KrisAnnapurna is a writer with ExplorersWeb.

Kris has been writing about history and tales in alpinism, news, mountaineering, and news updates in the Himalaya, Karakoram, etc., for the past year with ExplorersWeb. Prior to that, Kris worked as a real estate agent, interpreter, and translator in criminal law. Now based in Madrid, Spain, she was born and raised in Hungary.