Skye – measures!

The Majesty Of Skye

The Majesty Of Skye


“You know Alf, going to the right place at the right time, with the right people are all that really matters. 
What one does is purely incidental.”

Colin Kirkus to Alf Bridge on the summit of Sgurr Alasdair

The  far end of the ridge Sgur na Each

The far end of the ridge Sgur na Each

I was asked a question yesterday ” what would you advise someone on there first visit to Skye and to climb the famous In Pin?” on  Sgùrr Dearg (Gaelic: “red peak”) is a mountain in the Cuillin. I am on my way  to go up to Inverness and be part of a program for Radio Scotland ( as usual no fee is involved) Gary Linker gets the big wage! It was part of the  Louise White show she is planning on climbing the In Pin tomorrow. The weather looks a bit cold  but we had a great chat and Danny Macaskill was also speaking about his incredible film on the ridge. Danny is a local Skye legend and his film The Ridge is the brand new film from Danny  on the Skye Ridge on his bike what a film.  I crawl along it he carries a bike up the In Pin and does some wild cycling on the ridge! Do not try this at home.

Great days

Great days


A bit of the In Pin  on Sgurr Dearg It is topped by the Inaccessible Pinnacle (colloquially referred to by mountaineers as the In Pin or In Pinn), a fin of rock measuring 150 feet (50 metres) along its longest edge. The top of the Inaccessible Pinnacle, which at 3,235 ft (986 m) is the highest point of Sgùrr Dearg and the only Munro with a peak that can only be reached by rock climbing. This makes it the biggest hurdle for many Munro Baggers.

First climbed by Charles and Lawrence Pilkington in 1880, the Pinnacle was never climbed by Sir Hugh Munro himself. Because of its status as the most difficult of the Munros it has now spawned a cottage industry for the local guides, who are frequently to be seen escorting parties of novice climbers. Unlike much of the Cuillin, the pinnacle is basalt not gabbro and thus is somewhat slippery in the wet.

The usual ascent of the Inaccessible Pinnacle ( In Pin) itself is by its long east ridge, a climb of 50 metres vertically involving two roped 30m pitches.


Thw East Ridge

Although graded Moderate (the lowest grade now in use in the British grading System, with good holds, the ridge is narrow and exceptionally exposed. This route was described by an early climber as “a knife-edged ridge, with an overhanging and infinite drop on one side, and a drop on the other side even steeper and longer”. Some climbers prefer to tackle the much shorter west ridge (20 m), graded Very Difficult. It is usual to descend from the summit of the Pinnacle by abseiling off the west end, and a permanent anchor  a chain was sited on the summit for this purpose. Always check this and be prepared to use your own gear!



The In Pin !

Skye is a majestic place  with the unique Cuillins Britain’s Alpine mountains. The Cuillin of the Isle of Skye are without doubt  Britain’s most impressive mountains, a compact group of Alpine peaks rearing straight out of the Atlantic. It is a place of knife edge ridges, craggy peaks and steep rock this is mountaineers ground and a place to enjoy the majesty of sea, the islands and mountains.

Some hints on enjoying Skye


Plenty of care on the loose ground.

Go with someone who knows the ridge well this is a place that you need a mountaineers skills in route finding if the weather comes in. Route finding can be very tricky in bad weather but of course you will have a blue sky day. There are plenty of local climbing guides who know the ridge well and if rock climbing is not your forte many will give you great safe days on the ridge.

In pin chick

These hills start from sea level and these are big pulls to each summit an average of  2 – 3 hours – a good fitness is needed. The ground is hard going on the knees and body these are rocky mountains.

Great views of the Islands

Great views of the Islands Rum in the distance.

The ridges are great but scrambling skills are needed in places and a rope for the beginner will give great comfort and security. If doing the harder climbs/ hills a rope harness etc will need to be used.

Abseil or lower down the short side of the In Pin

Abseil or lower down the short side of the In Pin


From my Blog July 2012 It is easy to sit and admire the views especially when it is so hot, my water was down to 1 litre and we had a long way to go. I grabbed a drink and headed up. The two  boys ahead were about 40 feet above us when I heard a shout of below and a rock flashed by me and hit another of the party on the head, it was a scary moment. Within seconds he had a huge bump like an egg on his head and was shaken but fully conscious. I got down and was very worried when I saw the damage. There was no other option but to get down as quickly as possible and luckily there was a steep grass ramp taking us into the Corrie. I had been done it before so in good weather it was fine. The other two wanted to come down with us but we thought that we three could cope.  We were in a remote area and no communications were possible apart from the emergency text service (see below) We were pretty experienced so managed the situation, you can take little chance with a head injury. We monitored him all the way down and stopped at the streams to keep the bandage wet and the swelling down. It took 3 hours to get off and we were glad to see the Loch Coruisk. Our patient was feeling okay (as hard as nails) and soon was down in the river cooling off.  He went for a check up later and was a bit of a celebrity on the boat back. would always advise wearing a helmet on the steep ground as there may be loose rocks in places, which could upset your day. The photo below is a great reminder. It was a lucky escape, we were a big group very experienced, it was very hot and some of us did not wear helmets, that was daft, I was one of them. An inch more and it could have been a tragic story all so different. It was another great adventure but a bit too close to call for me. The more you go out the more you learn, yet we all still make daft mistakes, the secret is to learn from them.

Always wear a helmet

Always wear a helmet

The old saying that  you have to “Look well to each step  and check each hold”  is so essential in Skye. It is well worth noting loose rock is one the main cause of accidents in Skye. If it rains or becomes wet the rock can be very slippy even though it is the famous “Gabbro” that is very rough and care must be taken.

Wear a helmet loose rock abounds

Wear a helmet loose rock abounds

It is still pretty cold even though we are nearly in June be aware and check the weather forecast.  If planning a trip especially the busy In Pin be prepared to go early or be in a slow procession of others trying to achieve there aims. Be patient  and remember to many this is an incredible achievement for  most who are mainly hill – walk on the Scottish summits.

1983 Skye  teallach In pin .Climbers John Cosgrove, Blair Rodgers

You will be lowered off the In Pin or abseil off  so be patient if there is a big group just enjoy where you are and enjoy every minute. My Dog has been there!


Typical Skye ground.

Water is hard to get in the summer so make sure you hydrate well through a day and carry enough to get you through the day!


On the last bit of the In Pin

When you get on the tops the views and these hills are exceptional well worth the effort – you will have an outstanding day whatever you do and the views can be exceptional. I love this place so much so many great days. Have fun and be safe.


A Misty In Pin.

So I hope you enjoy your day on Skye and the “Magic of Skye” does not start and end on the In Pin.  Your day will become an annual pilgrimage to this place, you will see it in all weathers and at times you may not be able to climb such is the weather but this is an incredible place.There is so much to enjoy and to see in every Corrie masses of rock much unclimbed and enough climbing to last a lifetime. As for winter well that is another story!

Skye Munros

Skye Munros

The Island of Skye is a place of Mystery and every year I find some new place away from the hills to explore. Great names like the “fairy pools” fossil beach and the ever changing coast make this one of my top 10 places in the World. Stop look round and listen hear the call of this place and enjoy.


The proposed staue at Sligachan

The proposed staue at Sligachan



We are seeking to commemorate the climbing achievements of Skye native, John Mackenzie, and his friend and mountaineering pioneer, Norman Collie with a bronze sculpture of both men to be erected at Sligachan on Skye. We have two primary aims:

  • To gain public appreciation of the achievements made by Collie and Mackenzie during their pioneering climbs of the Skye Cuillin.
  • To promote the value and connection of the local landscape, wild places and the Gaelic culture.

The sculpture will form part of a wider interpretation area that aims to tell visitors about Skye’s spectacular Cuillin mountain range and the achievements of the two men.

Please use this website to find out more about the project and to make a donation




About heavywhalley.MBE

Mountain Rescue Specialist. Environmentalist. Spent 37 years with RAF Mountain Rescue and 3 years with a civilian Team . Still an active Mountaineer when body slows, loves the wild places.
This entry was posted in Equipment, Friends, Gear, Mountain rescue. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.