Isle of Skye Trip Report - My shocking visit to the Inaccessible Pinnacle

Inaccessible Pinnacle

 “GET DOWN! GO!” I turned to the others and yelled at the top of my lungs. We rushed off, crampons kicking through the snow and across rocks, tripping over ourselves and sliding on our sides on smoother ground, anything to get as far away from the Inaccessible Pinnacle as possible.

We had started just after dawn with plenty of food, warm layers and winter kit all packed away. My legs were remarkably weak from the pre-dawn ascent to view the pinnacle the previous day, so I took my carbon poles and sat at the back of the group while we plodded up past the snowline and onto the ridge of Sgurr Dearg. The rain turned to hail and I was grateful for having my new Mammut Nordwand Pro hardshell on to keep me dry.

Inaccessible Pinnacle - Lightning Strike

The visibility went down to roughly twenty metres and I started to struggle to keep up due to my thighs burning at the pace that was set. As we came up to the ridge in sub-zero temperatures and moderately high winds, I started to hear a funny noise in my hood. “It must be the wind shaking the material” I thought. I headed up to meet the others at the ridge overlooking the Inn Pinn. They could hear the noise in my hood too. We were only there for a matter of seconds before it hit. A strike to my head big enough to make me recoil. Lightning! I shouted and we rushed down below the ridge to safety and to assess the situation. As the hail stopped, so did the noise and it was safe to cautiously continue along the rest of the ridge as the conditions improved.

Looking back on the events, we should have realised that the weird noise we all heard was in fact static from the hail stones causing an electric charge, ready to connect as a lightning strike at any moment. Only after the strike on my head did we appreciate the seriousness of the situation we had found ourselves in.

We all learned that when we hear that noise, we get down! Nobody wants to be in an electrical storm. Especially on a ridge with metal crampons on and an ice axe in hand! 

Skye Festival 2020

The rest of the trip was still full of adventure, with two bothy bag lunches, minus fifteen wind-chill, a grade 2 summer conditions scramble and an indoor ice wall session on the way home too.

With good company, great knowledge of the local area by the organiser, and plenty of winter routes and ridges to play on, I will definitely be putting the Skye Winter Festival 2021 in my calendar! 

With special thanks to Jethro Kiernan Photography for use of the photographs.

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