Tuesday 16 May 2017

Guiding on The Cuillin Ridge. May 2nd 2017. The Inaccessible Pinnacle and Sgurr Na Banachdich.

Day two of Iain's visit to The Cuillin Ridge of Skye would see us start at the later time of 9am. We were all pretty knackered after the previous long day and every attempt was made to make this day somewhat shorter. It was with some relief that the only two summits we were going for were the Inaccessible Pinnacle on Sgurr Dearg and Sgurr Na Banachdich. It had been a good decision to have included Sgurr a' Ghreadaidh into the previous day's itinerary for sure!

Photo one sees John & Steve about an hour & a half into our walk in - on the steep west ridge of Sgurr Dearg on a hot and cloudless day. Thank god for the occasional bit of breeze to cool us down!

After some two & a half hours, we finally arrived at our first objective - the Inaccessible Pinnacle (photo two) this blade of rock overtops the main bulk of Sgurr Dearg by some 10 metres and is regarded as the true summit of the Munro. Our plan was to climb up the exposed South Ridge to the right (a polished "Moderate" rock climb) and then abseil down that dark vertical face just to the right of Steve.

We arrived relatively early here to avoid the queues wishing to traverse the "In Pinn" however, we still had to wait a short time before we were able to start our own ascent.

Photo three sees Steve & Jon about about 45 minutes after the last photo was taken. Neither found the exposed climb up the crest of the south ridge particularly difficult and we were soon all at the top. In "typical peak bagger style" Jon wanted to climb on to the top of The Bolster Stone (the very highest bit of the Inaccessible Pinnacle and right behind the guys in this photo) - something which Iain absolutely refused to allow him to do!

All that remained now was the stacked abseil back to the foot of the upper end of the pinnacle and after the entertaining abseils the previous day on Bidein Druim Nan Ramh, this presented no problem for these two.

After pulling down the rope and packing away the climbing gear, we enjoyed some welcome lunch before heading off towards Sgurr Na Banachdich at only half past mid-day. Now that was more like it!

A little over an hour later, we arrived on the summit of Sgurr Na Banachdich (photo four) after a long & hot traverse where Iain always stays below the ridge on it's western flank in order to avoid having to climb down and back up again to get past the notch formed by a basalt dyke between the southern & central tops of Sgurr Na Banachdich.

The heat of the day was making itself felt; and whilst Jon was keen to dash on and scamper up on to the south summit, Steve was more than happy just to follow Iain. On top of Banachdich, we met some happy chap who'd literally just completed all of the Munros by climbing this peak. Well done Paul Robertson - that was his name!

We all set off down the western flank of Sgurr Na Banachdich together heading for the very top of Coire An Eich - this is the easiest ascent or descent route on this side of Sgurr Na Banachdich; although it is still composed of steep scree on the upper part of the mountain.

It is always a relief to reach the lower part of the corrie (photo five) and get back on to soft grass. Here a number of springs allow for a refreshing drink if you've run out of water and the route onwards is a more gentle descent to join the path leading from Coire a' Ghreadaidh to the Glen Brittle Youth Hostel - only a mile & a half distant.

The final photo from today's report looks up to the Cuillin Ridge from the Glen Brittle Road. Our descent route was between the small peak to the left (An Dallaidh) and the cone shaped final spur of Sgurr Nan Gobhar. The mountain central to this photo is Sgurr Dearg and the ridge to the right is An-T-Sron with The Cioch Face below - a very famous rock climbing venue where there are many long hard mountain routes to be attempted.

Today was done & dusted by 16:30 and a rest day would be taken by all of us the next day before we would all meet again on Thursday to tackle Lota Corrie Route on Am Basteir - our final day on The Cuillin Ridge together.

Was the next day a rest day? Well you'll have to read Iain's Facebook report about that! Even on our days off, us Mountaineering Instructors can't stop climbing something!

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