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Sgurr Dearg – Inaccessible Pinnacle – Take 2

Sgurr Dearg – Inaccessible Pinnacle – Take 2

Postby NevJB » Mon May 23, 2016 5:34 pm

Route description: Sgurr Dearg and the In Pinn

Munros included on this walk: Inaccessible Pinnacle

Date walked: 09/05/2016

Time taken: 7 hours

Distance: 8 km

Ascent: 1065m

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Last year, on as perfect a day as you could wish, my first attempt ended about 20 minutes from the Memorial Hut. Having walked all week in 2015 and having climbed the middle 3 Cuillin the day before, my legs let me know that there was no way they were going to carry me up Sgurr Dearg. What were the chances of getting a similar day this year? In Skye terms, next to nil; however, we got the day that was ‘next to nil’. Come what may, I was determined to make it up there.

Dave walked up last year with Neill, but decided not to do the Pin owing to the rather large audience at the time; some of whom it has to be said were not that patient. All year he’d regretted his decision and was just as determined to make amends.

Neill climbed it last year, but wanted to come and take pictures. However, by the time we started (9:10 am) it was already very warm with the day set to become warmer still; not Neill’s favourite conditions (around 10C at the bottom and 5C on the top). Couple this with (then unknown) the onset of a virus plus work-related tiredness and he soon made the decision not to battle up the shoulder of Sgurr Dearg. His would be a lazy day with some work – his laptop and Blackberry never seem to leave his side nor stop asking for his input despite the ‘out of office’ message.

01_Sgurr Dearg_In Pin_Dave_1.jpg
Today's climb - the shoulder of Sgurr Dearg to the left (Dave)

02_Sgurr MhicChoinnich_30.jpg
Sgurr Dearg - side on - the line we were to take went up the profile of the ridge (Nev)

Liberally layered with sunscreen, we made steady, if not exactly startling progress up Sgurr Dearg. It was a bit of a slog, but the ever improving views more than compensate for the hard work.

03_Sgurr Dearg_Inaccessible Pinnacle_1.jpg
Part-way up the first part of the slope (Nev)

04_Sgurr Dearg_Inaccessible Pinnacle_2.jpg
Having a rest above the steeper section (Nev)

05_Sgurr Dearg_Inaccessible Pinnacle_3.jpg
Loch Brittle (Nev)

Large numbers of teams were out and Paddy was concerned that they all would be heading for the Pin, luckily they headed elsewhere. Once past the ‘chimney’ the gradient eased although the ground generally became rougher under foot. The last part was a bit of a scramble and much more entertaining. At last we rounded a corner and there was the Pin; the top only a few metres above us, its base much lower.

06_Sgurr Dearg_Inaccessible Pinnacle_5a.jpg
The Pin (Nev)

07_Sgurr Dearg_In Pin_Dave_2.jpg
And its top with Blabheinn in the background (Dave)

To Paddy’s delight there was no one on the Pin and no queue. This was no time to sit and have a rest/lunch – straight into harnesses and down to the base we went. That was the trickiest bit of the day for me; I do not like steep descents over gravelly ground as I am forever fearful that I will slip. Safely at the bottom, Paddy organised the rope and us.

I tried to follow what Paddy was doing and remember the line he took, but he scampered, no, glided, up the first pitch so quickly I couldn’t fix it in my mind.

08_Sgurr Dearg_Inaccessible Pinnacle_6a.jpg
Paddy nearly at the top of the first pitch - just below that square block (Nev)

Paddy secured his belay and called for us to follow. I was tied-in on the rope first with Dave about 5m or so below me. Although I have done plenty of scrambling over the past few years, I have not done any rock climbing since I was at college (72-75) being hauled up Stanedge Edge gritstone and Cheedale limestone. But the years peeled away – it was great and I was enjoying myself. The rock was dry and warm; there was no wind to speak of; the hand and footholds were large, plentiful and obvious. The only exception to this was one move just after a square lump of rock (which we had to pass behind) and before we got to the top of the first pitch. The two footholds were smaller protrusions of rock (a bit polished), but the handholds above were large and secure allowing us to pull ourselves passed the obstacle.

Without an audience, Dave was also enjoying the climb and not bothered by the exposure either side of the Pin. Dave and I clipped into the belay sling; I took a few pictures and Paddy, one of us, before he re-organised the rope and started climbing the second pitch.

10_Sgurr Dearg_Inaccessible Pinnacle_8.jpg
Paddy at the first belay (Nev)

11_Sgurr Dearg_Inaccessible Pinnacle_10.jpg
Dave and Nev belayed at the top of the first pitch (Paddy)

12_Sgurr Dearg_Inaccessible Pinnacle_11.jpg
Looking North along the Cuillin towards Sgurr nan Gillean (Nev)

13_Sgurr Dearg_Inaccessible Pinnacle_12.jpg
Dave preparing for the second pitch (Nev)

I think it took Paddy longer to secure the belay at the top than it did to complete the pitch. The second pitch is less steep and more of a staircase – you can even stand and take the odd step or two on a couple of occasions. Although the Pin narrows on the second pitch, being top-roped and having large holds meant that neither Dave, nor I, felt any sense of the obvious exposure either side. There we were on top of this little fin of basalt, feeling on top of the world.

14_Sgurr Dearg_In Pin_Dave_5.jpg
Dave & Nev at the top (Paddy)

15_Sgurr Dearg_In Pin_Dave_3.jpg
Towards Sgurr Mhic Choinnich and Sgurr Alasdair (Dave)

16_Sgurr Dearg_In Pin_Dave_4.jpg
And again, but zoomed (Dave)

Pictures taken, it was time to abseil down – or rather be lowered by Paddy which was undoubtedly a safer option. If only I could have done this all the way down – this was fun! Dave duly followed and also enjoyed the experience. I almost thought of going round again, but teams started arriving from all directions, so before long ‘normal service’ was resumed. How lucky we were. This allowed us the time to sit and take in the views whilst enjoying lunch in the sun.

18_Sgurr Dearg_Inaccessible Pinnacle_18.jpg
Dave abseiling (Nev)

17_Sgurr Dearg_Inaccessible Pinnacle_17.jpg
Dave abseiling (Nev)

19_Sgurr Dearg_Inaccessible Pinnacle_20.jpg
Blabheinn behind the Pin (Nev)

20_Sgurr Dearg_Inaccessible Pinnacle_21.jpg
Sgurr Alasdair (Nev)

The Pin looks as though it had been glued on top of the underlying slope and indeed, there were obvious signs of erosion at its base. I could imagine that one day it will slide towards An Stac or simply topple over. Paddy remarked that he hoped it would be there for another couple of years or so until he retired from the guiding business, after that let nature take its course.

It was time to make our way back down the way we came.

21_Sgurr Dearg_Inaccessible Pinnacle_23.jpg
The way down over Sgurr Dearg (Nev)

By this time it was bordering on hot. The light coloured rock had the double effect of reflecting both the sun’s rays and heat. I, for one, was baking and had to constantly stop to wipe the salt and sweat from my eyes and glasses, which had become salt encrusted. Made it to the chimney and, surprisingly down the steeper part; but after stopping to remove the oven on head (aka helmet) my legs had lost the will to keep up with Paddy and Dave. So I gently ambled along the rest of the walk to the memorial hut. Thankfully, Neill was there with water and an invigorating bottle of Peroni.

I was tired, but very happy. Dave (less tired, but equally hot) had wiped away the demons of last year and was also feeling satisfied with the achievement.
Posts: 115
Munros:55   Corbetts:3
Joined: Dec 11, 2008
Location: N Essex

Re: Sgurr Dearg – Inaccessible Pinnacle – Take 2

Postby Alteknacker » Mon May 23, 2016 6:23 pm

Some great pics there. What wonderful weather you had for it - it just hope it behaves for us this coming weekend, when we plan to be up there... :roll:
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Posts: 2424
Munros:162   Corbetts:28
Joined: May 25, 2013
Location: Effete South (of WIgan, anyway)

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