The Inaccessible Pinnacle is accessed
by Ranger » Fri Mar 30, 2012 11:16 am
Route description: Sgurr Dearg and the In Pinn
Munros included on this walk: Inaccessible Pinnacle, Sgurr Mhic Choinnich
Date walked: 30/03/2012
Time taken: 6 hours
Distance: 9 km
Ascent: 1280m56 people think this report is great. Register or Login free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).
The day started beautifully my peaks of yesterday framed through the tent window and the steam from an exquisite packet of super noodles melting the ice clinging to the tent - a nice remedy for a typically unsatisfactory nights sleep under canvas. Despite making me feel like im in my 80s, dried rolls chased down by a swig of water to aid chewing are set to become a regular breakfast for me on these early starts
The bridge over the River Drynoch was an ideal spot for a freezing morning wash before I headed down Glen Brittle to meet Jonah Jones, the guide I'd hired a couple of days earlier in a fit of sanity - looking back, those thoughts about soloing the in pin were pure evil At £130 quid Jones was 40-50 quid cheaper than the others, why go elsewhere?
Helmets and harness were passed over - gulp! - and we got cracking in the sunshine, though the haze and southerly breeze were strengthening with every step. JJ was a falklands vet, and a skye mountain rescue guy, and entertained with some stories that didnt spare us the detail throughout the day - between puffing away on his pack of 20
After the previous days exploits on Gillean's west ridge I should have been in a cool and confident frame of mind approaching the climb, but - despite ample scrambling practice opportunity as the ascent ridge became rockier and narrow, I was 'ing it.
The haze had drawn in but the nearby peaks were still visible, plus it was dry, but the strengthening wind was battering us with concerning regularity and I was becoming increasingly convinced we were on a reccie mission - the bantering stopped and we wandered onto the summit unsure of our chances.
JJ's implausible reassurances that "the wind'll be at our backs so if anything it'll be helping" were eventually conceded and just when all seemed lost he came out with a kind of 'sod it, we'll go for it anyway' - which changed the mindset immediately!
We lunched, I preferred to look westwards as I ate, and then geared up and headed down to the base to start the climb. That classic scene from Godfather when Pacino's about to do the deed and the train's rattling past always comes to mind in these situations, I wasnt thinking rationally and as I got the "start climbing" call I had to think hard about putting one foot in front of the other.
I was on the middle of the rope - tied on 5 metres above another bloke who was on the end, so basically I couldnt go more than 5m's away without grinding to a halt! At one point I had to pause on an exposed move for my friend to catch up - I stared at the rock in front of my nose until I could crack on.
His insturctions were - if the wind starts gusting - just cling on and think of england so to speak, I did this a couple of times and the wind howled against me, but to be honest it was lower down the list of concerns behind: 1. Holds 2. Exposure.
At another point JJ asked me to pull in the slack rope whilst he showed us the Crux move - very helpfully indeed - he asked me to look down to my partner and see where he was, I refused!
Come to think of it now I'm not sure what JJ was anchored to, but he showed us the move and we followed up to the first belay point. Soon after coming out of the chimney onto the crest - doubling the exposure in the process - the crux was basically a big step up onto a big jug hold with the left foot, but made trickier by only a tiny notch foothold for the right foot and a lack of big holds high up where you'd want them for the left hand. It went though - and 'thats the toughest bit over' was music to my ears!
I almost enjoyed the belay point - clipped into a sling I felt safe and it was like peering over a garden wall as I gazed over the crest across Coire Lagan. A steep but if i recall straightforward few steps led away from the belay and the angle relented markedly - but - the crest also narrowed to only a foot or two wide in places, which required care rather than any foot/handhold spotting ability.
The relief on reaching the final summit platform was immense - one of the best feelings ever on the hills.
We had a small wait for another couple of blokes - one of whom I heard commenting "it's a bit different from cheddar gorge isnt it?" - and then JJ lowered us down, to my surprise as I'd counted on doing it myself. Not fussed though, down I went, nervy at first but fine once I'd got going.
JJ came flying down in two seconds and that was us. My colleague had a celtic connections gig in broadford to go to but I'd been pretty clear throughout that I wanted Mhic Choinnich too, and as I was the paying customer and he was just the friend tagging along, we went for it. I knew linking it with Alasdair was problematic so this would be the most logical continuation.
The slabs below the in pin and rounding An Stac were devilish, I preferred the 5 points of contact approach even if it incurred the disdain of JJ 's professional pride
Having done the pinnacle you feel kind of invincible so there was no fear even though the route looked challenging. In fact we picked a route up through the buttress with ease, the exposure of the crest proving more testing. Not that he really needed to, JJ talked us through various moves that taunted gravity above the vertigo-inducing west face. The exposure topped anything from Basteir-Gillean the day before and the tiny summit was well earned for sure.
The day felt done, and later-afternoon sunshine fittingly appeared to warm us up. If anything the exposure was more in your face on the way down, still easy enough to a confident post-pin ascender. The An Stac screes were enjoyable for me - if not the boots - and the path down, well maintained like all the Cuillin approach paths I came across was a delight in the evening sunshine
Another cracking day, and another cracking evening meal (Mallaig Haddock and Chips ) in Portree at the Caley Inn to round it off - Munro climbing at its very best. Not all over yet though.
The legs, the mind, and most importantly the Mrs' approval , were all present and correct for one more day's sport at least....
by Bod » Fri Mar 30, 2012 12:22 pm
Love all your photos, from the tent to the summits and back down again, an amazing day-out!
by lomondwalkers » Fri Mar 30, 2012 12:22 pm
by Graeme D » Fri Mar 30, 2012 12:34 pm
by johnkaysleftleg » Fri Mar 30, 2012 1:33 pm
by mrssanta » Fri Mar 30, 2012 6:19 pm
by L-Hiking » Fri Mar 30, 2012 7:00 pm
by Collaciotach » Fri Mar 30, 2012 7:36 pm
no often a Ranger is top of anything these days
by 2dalmatians » Fri Mar 30, 2012 8:02 pm
by RicKamila » Fri Mar 30, 2012 9:26 pm
by yokehead » Fri Mar 30, 2012 9:44 pm
Enjoyed this very much, cheers!
by Bruno » Fri Mar 30, 2012 10:09 pm
Have really enjoyed these reports and look forward to more submissions.
by Ranger » Fri Mar 30, 2012 11:30 pm
Collaciotach wrote:Well done a bhalaich, grand report its a challenge no doubt .......
no often a Ranger is top of anything these days
Mate, the football wind ups everytime you reply to me are getting boring - you're clearly a funny guy with all the lol's you put at the end of your posts so finding something else to be funny about would be much appreciated
by weescotsman » Fri Mar 30, 2012 11:45 pm
by simon-b » Sat Mar 31, 2012 10:01 am
You clung on and thought of England?
If I ever get to climb Pillar Rock in the Lake District, I'll remember to cling on and think of Scotland