Sgurr Dearg / Inaccessible Pinnacle

The final section of ridge leading to the In pin

Getting ready for the climb
Tops: Sgurr Dearg
Inaccessible Pinnacle
Heights: Sgurr Dearg: 979 m
In Pin: 986m
Map Reference: NG 444 216
  • Harveys Superwalker: Skye, The Cuillin (1:25,000 and 1:12,500)
  • OS Landranger Sheet 32: South Skye (1:50,000)
Our Ascent:

3 August 1999

Our Ascent

We started walking around 9:45 am starting at the Memorial Hut on the Glen Brittle road. The weather was a bit hazy and humid and we were anticipating thunderstorms later in the day - in the event these did not materialise.

The path rises over the heather hillside soon passing the wooded gorge of the river Allt Coire na Banachdich with the dramatic waterfall of Eas Mor falling over the lip to the depths below. The gorge was christened 'The Lost World' - there are dinosaurs down there! Beyond we soon reached the foot of the west ridge to Sgurr Dearg.

The assault is direct with a steep climb up a stoney path, this giving way to a clamber over larger boulders as the crest is reached. It took us one and a half hours to reach the top of the shoulder at around 700m. After a short rest we strode out over rising ground, past the rock buttresses at the 804 m spot height and over steeper rocky ground to the first true top on the ridge. Having gained the high ridge the views had opened up and ahead you could see the top of the In Pin standing above the ridge. It had taken us an hour to cover the intervening ground and there was stiff breeze blowing across the top. This had the advantage of taking away the haze - we donned trousers and fleeces to keep ourselves warm.

The west face of the In pinWe made out way along the rocky ridge - a few ups and downs but no real difficulties. At one point the ridge narrows to a series of square blocks - the easiest traverse is to stride confidently admiring the way in which the ground falls away on either side. The views across Coire Lagan to Sgurr Alasdair and The Great Stone Shoot are truly magnificent.

Suddenly you arrive on the final section of narrow ridge and there it is - the Inaccessible Pinnacle standing as a proposterous blade of rock projecting from the ridge. We could see the shorter, vertical face of the west end of the prominence and we settled down on the sloping rock of the main ridge to prepare for our climb. We donned harnesses and climbing helmets and watched as Tim, the guide, ascended the face and secured himself on the ledge near the very top of the pinnacle. First to ascend was Susan - given first slot on the grounds she had most experience of rock climbing. The difficult sections were in the lower half of the climb - those with longer limbs had a distinct advantage in being able to reach between the cracks in the rock. Once past the vertical section it was an easier clamber up to the sloping ledge to tonch the perched block that marks the true summit of the remarkable piece of geology.

To descend Tim lowered Susan as she walked backwards down the rock face. After Susan, Barry (an American visitor) made the same ascent, followed by Andrew, Angela and finally Simon. With the weather still clear the views from the top were extensive stretching away in both directions along the entire Cuillin ridge. Below the rest of the party sat awaiting your descent to the main ridge.

Having completed the climb, Simon took Susan and Andrew down the slope past the base of the In Pin and on to the next top of An Stac. This narrow ridge of rock is almost directly at the head of Coire Lagan far below and gives tremendous views across the great divide to Sgurr Alasdair. On the north side the ridge just falls away in an almost sheer cliff to the corrie floor below. From this vantage point you also get a classic view of the east face of the Inaccessible Pinacle which looks higher and even narrower from this side. A couple of climbers were preparing to ascend by this longer ridge - a climb that is easier than the west side but with exposure of the extreme kind on both sides.

Susan at the summitAndrew at the summitAngela at the summit Simon at the summit

Returning to the waiting party on Sgurr Dearg we re-packed the rucksacks and returned by our route of ascent. We declined the opportunity to descend by the An Stac Screes to the head of Coire Lagan prefering the opportunity to stay on the ridge and take in the views. The descent down the steep shoulder was a bit punishing but we were able to take our time. The weather was now sunny and clear and getting hot under the sun. On arriving back at the roadside we got in the car and drove the short distance up the road to the Youth Hostel - here the family walked the hundred yards or so to a large plunge pool and swam in the water - sitting under the hefty waterfall - to bring to a close a truely memorable day on the Cuillin ridge.