THE CRUX
The Great Outdoors|February 2020
Last summer, self-confessed ‘average adventurer’ James Forrest completed all 282 of Scotland’s Munros in an intensive six-month push. Here he describes the most knee-trembling part of the journey – Skye’s famous Inaccessible Pinnacle
James Forrest
I AM A HILLWALKER out of his comfort zone. This is knee wobbling, nerve-jangling, the-end-is-nigh exposure. Balanced precariously on a serrated, fin-like rocky spine, I should feel utterly petrified. But, strangely, I don’t.

A sort of calmness has descended over me, induced by the nirvana-like mountain artistry all around. I am floating above a sea of clouds: an achingly pretty inversion kissed with an exquisite, double-rainbow Brocken spectre. The blanket of white is pierced only by the jagged ridge below my feet. It feels like I’m surfing the clouds, riding the serrated backbone of a flying dragon. Am I in heaven?

No – but I’m close as it gets. I’m halfway up the notorious Inaccessible Pinnacle on the Isle of Skye’s Cuillin: a spiky, toothed ridge of legendary alpine proportions. Brutally built and terrifyingly sheer, it is a seven-mile-long labyrinth of monstrous turrets, razor-thin arêtes and precipitous craggy obstacles – the UK’s most iconic ridge and the Holy Grail for the British scrambler.

There are 11 Munro summits here and I’m taking on the most technically difficult one. The In Pinn – or Sgurr Dearg, to use its Sunday name – is a spectacular blade of rock with dizzying exposure. It reminds me of a shark’s dorsal fin: sharp, narrow and a sign of impending doom.

My task is to climb the edge of that forbidding fin.

Facing the crux

I’m already halfway up. The first pitch – a blur of trembling legs, tense fingers gripping cold bare rock, feet desperately searching for holds, and eyes being drawn, sadistically, to look down – is over. And now, perched on a rocky ledge, I can relax for a moment. Ahead of me is the crux of the climb, the most difficult manoeuvres and the scariest exposure – but I temporarily block them out of my mind. I pause and let the scenery soothe my soul.

Charismatic and imposing, the Cuillin ridge sweeps away below me, a masterpiece of rugged, rocky, frightful grandeur penetrating the cloud veil. It is a dichotomous scene: the inversion seems soft and delicate; the ridge is brooding and fearsome. In the distance Bla Bheinn, Skye’s sublime outlier, is just visible, its triangular, craggy top piercing the clouds rather dramatically, as if not wanting to miss out on the action. And, in the foreground, a sharp arête leads to the cliff-lined Munro summit of Sgurr Mhic Choinnich. I stood atop that Munro this morning – a moment I know will live long in the memory.

After a misty, drizzly march up to Coire Lagan from Glenbrittle followed by a lung-busting slog over shifting screes to gain the ridge, I was cursing my luck, fearing another wet, uncomfortable and viewless day on the ridge. That was until – in a joyous, is-this-really-happening moment – the weather shifted as I scrambled over precipitous slabs to the summit of Sgurr Mhic Choinnich. Did the cloud base sink? Or did we levitate above it? Either way, it felt like ascending into paradise.

Continue reading your story on the app

Continue reading your story in the magazine

MORE STORIES FROM THE GREAT OUTDOORSView All

Practice Makes Perfect

Preparation is key if you want to enjoy, and not simply endure, the TGO Challenge. Organisers Ali Ogden and Sue Oxley look at how to be ready for the demands of a long-distance walk

3 mins read
The Great Outdoors
February 2020

More Ways than one

Roger Smith calls for more clarity around the increasing proliferation of named trails

3 mins read
The Great Outdoors
February 2020

THE LONG PATHWAY

Kat Young and Liv Bolton both walked New Zealand’s South Island from north to south via the country-spanning Te Araroa Trail. Here they each describe a section of this spectacular and life-changing route

8 mins read
The Great Outdoors
February 2020

THE CRUX

Last summer, self-confessed ‘average adventurer’ James Forrest completed all 282 of Scotland’s Munros in an intensive six-month push. Here he describes the most knee-trembling part of the journey – Skye’s famous Inaccessible Pinnacle

8 mins read
The Great Outdoors
February 2020

A HAPPY RETURN

For more than 30 years, Chris Townsend dreamed about doing a long walk through the high reaches of the Colorado Was it everything he hoped for?

6 mins read
The Great Outdoors
February 2020

Happy When It Rains

With an unpredictable winter approaching, here are TGO’s tips for enduring – even enjoying? – our ever-changing climate...

6 mins read
The Great Outdoors
December 2019

Mind Boggling

Rising rivers, quaking bogs, ferocious winds, possible thunderstorms and annoying theme tunes – will Paul Beasley be able to take all this in his stride and successfully cross Dartmoor?

10+ mins read
The Great Outdoors
December 2019

Errigal

Donegal’s highest mountain is a sight to behold – unless, as Jim Perrin discovered, the weather has other ideas…

3 mins read
The Great Outdoors
December 2019

Commuting: Lochaber Style

For Many Of Us, The Daily Commute Can Be A Chore. But, For Neil Adams, Living And Working In One Of Scotland’s Finest Mountain Landscapes Gave Him The Opportunity To Turn It Into An Adventure...

9 mins read
The Great Outdoors
December 2019

The Depths Of Time

James Roddie goes under the surface of Assynt to discover a whole new dimension to an extraordinary, ancient landscape.

4 mins read
The Great Outdoors
November 2019
RELATED STORIES

An Easy to Use Tool to Spot Potential Lows

I am Daniele Prandelli, and people probably know me for my work on Planetary Lines and cycles, which are very important tools, but I have many other weapons in my arsenal.

4 mins read
TradersWorld
July/August/September 2022

Country CHARM

A COUNTRY-STYLE FAMILY HOME FIT FOR CONTEMPORARY LIVING

4 mins read
SA Home Owner
May 2022

EKA E9 Bus

EKA LAUNCHED THE EKA E9, ITS FIRST BATTERY-ELECTRIC BUS. PRATEEK PARDESHI DRAWS ATTENTION TO THE BUNDLED OFFERING OF DESIGN AND TECHNOLOGY.

7 mins read
Commercial Vehicle
April 2022

Pinnacle betting big on sustainable mobility

EKA, the electric vehicle arm of Pinnacle Industries will launch a hydrogen-basedbusandLCV in this calendar. Underpinning both products philosophy of lean manufacturing and shared technologies. Brian de Souza has the details of the company's journey into the electric space.

7 mins read
Autocar Professional
15th April 2022

EKA unveils first electric bus

The arm of Pinnacle Industries is looking to raise ₹500 crore

1 min read
Financial Express Mumbai
April 03, 2022

Keravan Kerala

WHILE KERALA TOURISM MAY NEED NO INTRODUCTION THE NEW EFFORTS TO STIMULATE A HIGHER FOOTFALL MUST BE GIVEN ITS DUE. PRATEEK PARDESHI LOOKS AT THE "KERAVAN KERALA' INITIATIVE BANKING ON CUSTOM CARAVANS.

5 mins read
Commercial Vehicle
March 2022

Champion OEMs Receive PLI Approval

20 CHAMPION OEMS OF THE 115 COMPANIES THAT FILED UNDER THE PLI SCHEME HAVE GOT THEIR APPROVAL. ASHISH BHATIA SHARES THE DETAILS OF COMPANIES THAT CUT ABOVE THE REST.

2 mins read
Commercial Vehicle
March 2022

DUAL-BOOT+ Booting multiple operating systems

Christian Cawley examines the various ways you can boot your Raspberry Pi, from installing an OS to multibooting.

10+ mins read
Linux Format
February 2022

Survival of The Fittest

The author at the age of seventy opens his mind to health hazards and how to overcome them

3 mins read
Yoga and Total Health
December 2021

NW ARKANSAS CHAMPIONSHIP

Japan’s Nasa Hataoka followed up a pair of aces with a hot start in Sunday’s final round to capture the NW Arkansas Championship for the second time. Hataoka kept the accelerator down, draining three birdies in her first four holes in a closing round of four-under 67 for a 16-under 197 total.

1 min read
Golf Asia
November 2021