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Scurr nan Gillean by Pinnacle Ridge

Location: The Black Cuillin above Sligachan Hotel, Isle of Skye

Length: 11km / 6.75miles

Ascent: 1010m / 3313ft

Time: 6 hours

Difficulty: Technically this is the most difficult ridge scrambling detailed on our website - it should be considered as an easy rock climb rather than a walk. Not only does it entail a good head for heights and steady ability on rock, it also requires the proven ability to handle ropes and make a safe abseil. Descending from the Third Pinnacle requires a 20m abseil (to remove the rope means doubling it and therefore a 40m length of rope is required): Consider it to be a severe scramble (Scrambling Grade 3) with one abseil(20m).

  Pinnacle Ridge traverse Sgurr nan Gillean

Descending the so-called 'Tourist Route' also involves a short scramble (Scrambling Grade 1). In winter it is a serious climb (Winter Grade 3). Even at 1:25000 the steeps are so great and the area so complex that the Black Cuillin cannot be truly represented by a map.

There is also the fact that within the gabbro rocks are deposits of magnetite which deflect the compass needle away from magnetic north, so a map and compass are of limited use amongst these demanding and serious mountains.

Of course, studying a map and knowing the area as well as possible is important; but ultimately the most crucial safety consideration, and one which could make all the difference between success and disaster, is good mountaineering sense and sound judgement.

  Cuillin reflections


Summer conditions may be expected from May to September, and winter conditions from October to April.


Typical of the region is gabbro interspersed with basalt dykes. The course-grained gabbro is renowned for its hard roughness, giving good friction and making it an excellent rock on which to climb. It does vary in quality, however, and there are crumbly and denatured sections.

Loose rock and scree will be found on the ledges and paths, so care must be taken not to dislodge any stones fr fear of climbers below. There is also basalt which is a much darker and more compact rock which becomes extremely slippery when wet.

  Sgurr nan Gillean and Am Basteir

Flora and Fauna:

Golden Eagle, meadow pippit and ptarmigan may be seen; also fox, mountain hare and lizard. Moss campion and thrift also grow in this region.


This is by far the hardest ridge scramble that we offer - Scurr nan Gillean is a mountaineer's favourite and the Pinnacle Ridge is a classic rock climb. Scurr nan Gillean via Pinnacle Ridge is one of Britain's great mountain outings - very easy for a climber, perhaps too difficult for even the accomplished walker, Scurr nan Gillean is a mountain to be respected.

If you are a hillwalker with a will, with the right experience and training we can help you bridge the gap to attain this mighty peak.

  Elgol beach looking across Loch Scavaig towards Gars-Bheinn

Tel: (44) 17687 75337 Skype: Activus Outdoors: Skype Status

Looking for a different kind of adventure? Visit our Activus Group web page where you'll find links to all of our other inspirational sites.