A busy day on the In Pin on Sgurr Dearg on Skye.

Busy Day on the In Pin on Skye.

I was at Skye for the weekend staying in the BMC Hut in Glenbrittle  with the Moray Mountaineering Club. We were privileged to be in a fantastic location just below the great peaks of the Skye Cuillin.  To open the door and be at the bottom of Scotland’s finest mountains is one that never fails to impress me. I love Skye and have so many great memories of this place and of so many adventures. It was a busy night in the hut with many arriving late and two who had a great day on the Kintail Munros. Plans were hatched that night, all buoyed by the weather on the long drive down the Cioch in Coire Lagan and some of the Munros on the ridge Sgurr A Mhaidaidh, Greta and Sgurr Na Bannadich  were the plans and there were a couple in the club wanting to climb the famous Inaccessible Pinnacle on Sgurr Dearg. This is a Munro that you have to rock climb to gain its lofty summit. Too many it is their climax in hill walking and some climbers sadly mock the joy of those who rarely climb in gaining its summit.

The guide says Sgùrr Dearg is a mountain in the Cuillin on the Isle of Skye, Scotland. It is topped by the Inaccessible Pinnacle, a fin of rock measuring 150 feet along its longest edge.

Classic In Pin on Skye

Classic In Pin on Skye

From Skye Guides  The East Ridge; Moderate standard rock climb. 65m 200ft. 95% of ascents.

“The climbing is not difficult for a confident scrambler when the rock is dry but wind and rain make the climb a more serious proposition. There are large footholds for all but one step; there are fewer positive hand-holds but you will have been taught to climb on your feet and just use hands for balance.  The whale-back shape of the East Ridge means that it is not possible to safeguard every step along the whole length of the ascent but the rope is directly above you (and very tight!) on the single hardest move (the crux in climbing terms).”


From another

“ Many walkers and munroists leave the “In. pin” to the end and make it the final Munro on their tick-list. Many people choose to scale the peak in the company of a professional guide (there are several on the island and nearby) or a rock-climbing friend. Either will do, but you must climb this mountain – if only to see the expressions and antics of your fellow climbers: fear, joy, daredevilry, compassion, satisfaction – almost every human emotion but especially companionship – all the walkers seem to form a “support group” swapping tales and experiences and bolstering each other’s confidences for the climb – it’s great to see!” Oh if only this was true?

Too many this is a great achievement and that should never be forgotten when climbing on the “In Pin” as it is known and patience needs to be shown by those more experienced as this mountain is for everyone’s enjoyment. The unfortunate fact is that is a busy place to be especially on a clear and sunny day as we were forecast to have. You can wait a while at times to get on the climb and one day there were over 100 people climbing on it and even a film crew. We set off at 0830 yet we would not be first there. As one of our party had just started hillwalking and had only been at the climbing on an artificial wall it would be a day never to forget. We sorted out some gear and practiced putting it on a bit of fun with the harness that night and then sorted the gear. The usual cries of do we need this all stuff. It is dark now at 1900 and we checked all had working head torches but there was no way I planned to be off well before then.

Our group enjoying the great views.

Our group enjoying the great views.

You have to be way early now  at this time of year to make the best of the day. After breakfast we set off and the car park outside was busy and it’s a fair walk up to the ridge. It takes just over two hours and is a great walk. It starts from sea level like all the Skye Munros do and every summit is hard won.

We had planned to do a bit of scrambling on the way up and the rock was dry and warm.

Getting used to the rough rock.

Getting used to the rough rock.

The ridge up was heavily eroded by the weather and rain in places but we were soon up onto the rock and the views were incredible. The climb takes you up at time by a Basalt dyke common in Skye. The views on the way up out to sea of Rum and the other Islands and the great hills were looking stunning. Sgurr Na Bannadich was getting the morning light and it was warm and we just took it easy on our wonderful scramble up onto the ridge.

Take care on loose rock.

Take care on loose rock. Get the helmets on.

By now we had seen a couple of other parties and there was already one party on the In Pin and another just finishing. They were making the best of great weather on a complete traverse of the Cuillin ridge 11 Munros in a day and moving well.

The big hills - great days

The big hills – great days

We had put on harness’s and helmets well before the ridge and had enjoyed the scramble all moving well and taking care checking the loose rock and being careful. Skyebis famous for its Gabbro rock which is magic to climb but there can be a lot of loose rock on ledges. I always advise people with me to take care and as always check every hold.

On the ridge on the way up, grand views.

On the ridge on the way up, grand views.

I have had the privilege to be on the In Pin many times often on my many traverse on the Ridge and with pals or team mates who wanted to climb this great Munro. In the past it was quiet but not now it is a bit of an “In Pin Circus” as it is on many tick list not just climbers and walkers.  Maddy wanted to lead it so we had no rush and let a party set off before us as we wandered down on the scramble down to the base of the climb leaving the bags on the ridge. We enjoyed a short break had a well – earned drink and some food and admired the views. I had done a big Rescue here many years before with the Skye team at night lowering a climber down here on an awful wet wild night he  had abseiled off his rope/ fallen and was badly injured. It was an epic lower down the steep loose ground on a night and one that sticks in the memory. Rocks crashed down as we moved down with the stretcher and the smell and sparks of the rocks hitting the ground will stay with me for life.


26/09/82 Isle of Skye

Inaccessible Pinnacle


Fallen climber aged 65 with back injuries at short side of In Pin.  1000ft lower in pouring rain and heavy cloud with Skye team and 2 mile carry off.  8.5hrs. All night carry off after a long weekend on Skye. Very scary falling rocks and exhausted. John Beatie and myself lowers Terry Moore and Gerry Ackroyd ( Team Leader Skye) down with stretcher. Then climbed scrambled down epic in the wet and dark. There were only a few of us to get the stretcher and 500 foot ropes up onto the ridge in the dark.  A great learning night and great respect for Gerry and his team in Skye.


We set off on the climb and Susan and David did well, it’s still an impressive place we let a few climbers through a guided group with a guide who had done the In Pin this year 63 times! Poor soul in my mind but he loves it hope his body lasts better than mine. It took a bit of confidence building to let my group relax but all did well and Maddy enjoyed his big lead it went slow and there are plenty of holds for hand and feet but the exposure can scare a few.

Susan at Grips with the rock - loving the experience.

Susan at Grips with the rock – loving the experience.

The belays are good but care must always be taken especially with non – climbers and we never rushed and all went well. There was no haste and poor Susan was horrified when a solo climber passed us and then soled back down, while we were still climbing up. He was so confident and gave us a smile and thanks.  We had some laughs and the weather allowed us to enjoy the situation and I was having some conversations with others on the route. In the meantime our local guide was returning on his second trip that day !

David top man no bother.

David top man no bother.

It was not a day to rush but enjoy the situation and Susan and David enjoyed it and learnt lots. We were soon on the top and then the short but interesting abseil down was another bit of fun, the chain on the top makes the abseil as safe as it can be.

Getting there

Getting there look at the view Susan!

Again we let a few rush ahead and then had time in the sun to savour the situation and what a great first abseil for them. We were soon down at the bottom and back on terra firma, there were big smiles and we sat and enjoyed the situation.

The abseil

The abseil

It was hot and the view was stunning and I felt the joy for Maddy, David and Susan who were very pleased.  It was magic views all around the ridge and the sea a unique combination and with the Islands make this is a special place it is a place to savour and not rush at my age. The “In pin” was busy with about 30 – 40 climbing that morning and afternoon, the word that the weather was good was out and so many had a great day.

It was great not to rush and the summits were clear and we could see so many on the ridge little stick men and women among these great mountains. I offered to climb Sgurr Na Bannadich or Sgurr MhicConnich but all were happy to wander slowly off taking care on the descent and enjoying the wildness of the ridge. It was a great wander off heading back to the views of the sea but always taking care.

Taking care on the way off its not over until your home.

Taking care on the way off its not over until your home.

We wore our helmets on the way down and I took them all down the scree to the small lochan a new skills scree running was learned. I spotted some hinds in Corrie Lagan and we watched them for while but the sun was hot and I had run out of water. How my knees feel the hill but I was very happy a a short but fun day and all were enjoying it. We had another stop when all got down and more water from a stream and then savoured the last mile back to the hut.

The big scree run a good learning curb!

The big scree run a good learning curb!

It was great to be back and we were first home at 1630, we sorted out the gear after a brew and had a shower and changed. It was a short day but special and all were happy with their day. No drive back but just enjoy the evening once all came back off the hill and maybe a sunset at Glen Brittle?

What a day

What a day. 

About heavywhalley.MBE

After dinner speaker Lecturer and Mountain Rescue Specialist. Environmentalist. Spent 36 years with RAF Mountain Rescue and 4 years with a civilian Team . Still an active Mountaineer and loves the wild places.
This entry was posted in Enviroment, Equipment, Friends, Gear, Mountain rescue, mountain safety, Mountaineering, Rock Climbing, Views Mountaineering, Weather. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to A busy day on the In Pin on Sgurr Dearg on Skye.

  1. pondbug says:

    As non-climbers we did the Inn Pin several years ago on a similar day with Gerry Ackroyd as our guide. He gave us great confidence and we were able to enjoy the exposure as we climbed. Your photos show that exposure so well – burned in my mind is the view beyond my boot as it stood on a small hold above a huge drop – exhilarating!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Gerry is a great man I know him well and glad the wee tale reminded you of a great day. Skye is marvellous and a place of memories for all.
      Thanks for your comment like the bit about the boots above the huge drop!


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