Sgùrr Dearg

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Sgùrr Dearg
Sgurr Dearg - - 1258334.jpg
Sgùrr Dearg and the Inaccessible Pinnacle
Highest point
Elevation985.8 m (3,234 ft)[1]
Prominence187 m
Parent peakSgùrr Alasdair
ListingMunro, Marilyn
English translationred rocky peak
Language of nameGaelic
PronunciationScottish Gaelic: [ˈs̪kuːrˠ ˈtʲɛɾɛk]
LocationSkye, Scotland
Parent rangeCuillin
OS gridNG444215
Topo mapOS Landranger 32
First ascent1880, by Charles and Lawrence Pilkington
Easiest routerock climb (Moderate)

Sgùrr Dearg (Scottish Gaelic for 'red rocky peak') is a mountain in the Cuillin on the Isle of Skye, Scotland. It is topped by the Inaccessible Pinnacle (or An Stac in Gaelic),[2] a fin of rock measuring 50 metres (150 feet) along its longest edge. The top of the Pinnacle stands at 985.8 m (3,234 ft) above sea level, making Sgùrr Dearg 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 often 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.


Sgùrr Dearg lies on the main Cuillin ridge at the junction of Coire Lagan, Coire na Banachdich and Coir'-uisg. It is the second highest peak in the Cuillin, and faces the highest, Sgùrr Alasdair, across Coire Lagan.

Although the name Sgùrr Dearg refers to the mountain as a whole, references to the "summit" of Sgùrr Dearg are, unless otherwise qualified, generally taken to indicate the 978 metre top immediately below the Inaccessible Pinnacle on the north-western side.[3] For reasons that remain unclear, this summit was listed as a Munro in the first (1891) edition of Munro's Tables, while the higher Pinnacle was listed as a subsidiary top; this situation was reversed in the first revision of the tables in 1921.[4]


The Inaccessible Pinnacle, taken from near the (lower) top of Sgùrr Dearg


While the Inaccessible Pinnacle is the hardest of the Cuillin's summits to reach, the approach to its base is relatively simple by Cuillin standards. Most walkers and climbers start from Glen Brittle, from where the easiest route involves following the faint path to the Bealach Coire na Banachdich via the corrie of the same name; from here the top of Sgùrr Dearg may be gained via a tedious scree slope interspersed with some easy scrambling. A more interesting ascent may be achieved by ascending the screes of Sron Dearg, which leads to Sgùrr Dearg's narrow and rocky south-west ridge, a grade 1/2 scramble.

Many climbers tackle the mountain as part of a circuit of the Coire Lagan skyline, or a traverse of the main Cuillin ridge, approaching it along the ridge from Sgùrr MhicChoinnich to the south-east (Grade 2). In this case the top of Sgùrr Dearg can be reached direct by scrambling up the broad flank to the left of An Stac and the Inaccessible Pinnacle.

The Inaccessible Pinnacle[edit]

The Inaccessible Pinnacle (An Stac in Gaelic), colloquially called the 'In Pin' or 'In Pinn' by mountaineers, was first climbed in 1880 by a pair of Lancashire brothers, Charles and Lawrence Pilkington. They were guided to the foot of the climb from Sligachan via Coruisk and Bealach Coire na Banachdich by a local shepherd called John Mackenzie. They climbed it by the east ridge, and had to throw down a lot of loose rock as they climbed.[5]

The usual ascent of the Inaccessible Pinnacle itself is by its long east ridge, a climb of 50 metres vertically involving two roped 30 m pitches. 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".[6] 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 is sited on the summit for this purpose.

In 2014 cyclist Danny MacAskill climbed Sgùrr Dearg without safety ropes, while carrying a mountain bike on his back.[7] The video was viewed over fourteen million times in the week following its launch on 2 October 2014[8] and has been watched over 78 million times (as of September 2022).

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Inaccessible Pinnacle (Sgùrr Dearg)". Hill Bagging - the online version of the Database of British and Irish Hills (DoBIH). 2019. Archived from the original on 1 October 2020. Retrieved 19 June 2019.
  2. ^ "The Inaccessible Pinnacle". Ainmean-Àite na h-Alba: Gaelic Place-Names of Scotland.
  3. ^ For example, Noel Williams states that the Pinnacle "outstrips Sgùrr Dearg by 8m and must therefore be regarded as the true summit of the mountain". Skye Scrambles, p. 163.
  4. ^ The Munros and Tops 1891-1997. Archived 2018-08-05 at the Wayback Machine Spreadsheet with details of revisions to Munro's Tables.
  5. ^ Williams, Noel. Skye Scrambles. Scottish Mountaineering Trust, 2000, pp.32-33
  6. ^ Quoted in Murray, W.H. (1997) [1947]. Mountaineering in Scotland. Baton Wicks. ISBN 1-898573-23-9.
  7. ^ Swarbrick, Susan (5 October 2014). "TV: Virtuoso cyclist Danny MacAskill's Riding the Ridge". The Herald.
  8. ^ "Danny Macaskill: The Ridge". YouTube.


Williams, Noel (2000). Skye Scrambles. Scottish Mountaineering Trust. ISBN 0-907521-55-X.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 57°12′46″N 6°14′05″W / 57.21270°N 6.23484°W / 57.21270; -6.23484