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Mountaineering Feature - PINNACLE RIDGE

Updated: Sep 30, 2021

Pinnacle Ridge is one of the most famous scrambles in the Lake District. And for good reason. It offers fantastic rock, moves, positions and exposure high above the Grisedale valley.

The final airy section and alpine ridge of pinnacle ridge on st sunday crag in the lake district
Pinnacle Ridge

We set off from Patterdale on a hot day, to beat the heat and any crowds that might gather on this route. Its a popular one.

The walk in is steep and long and although it looks imposing, the path is generally good and well defined even across the final scree slopes. To locate this scramble, looking upwards is a tree and an obvious finger of rock sticking out of the ridge, very recognisable from below.

We geared up and moved quickly through the initial sections that offer good scrambling on big holds, no harder than grade 1. The first tricky section is on a sweep of fallen slab, some thin moves and a mantle shelf leave a top this before continuing on to the main event.

The crux here is a steep and sometimes wet and greasy corner. It is tricky and quite awkward. The holds are good however and bridging out on the corner aids balance for these harder moves. This pitch is easy to protect with some wires and slings, particularly if the chockstone is slung as protection. A big flake offers a belay on the top.

On the middle section of pinnacle ridge just before the crux
Scrambling on Pinnacle Ridge

We continued up and onto the airy final section of the ridge. This is proper alpine terrain and climbs onto a huge gendarme pinnacle. This has to be down climbed, but can be protected with a belay around the pinnacle. This offers protection from above as the climber negotiates the scramble down. A short abseil would also work if the rope is direct around the pinnacle, allowing for it to be retrieved.

We then continued onto the top of St Sunday Crag and went for a long walk. We completed St Sunday Crag, Cofa Pike, Fairfield, Hart Crag and Hartsop Above How. This took us into the valley and back into Patterdale but we weren't finished there - we climbed up again.

We summited Arnison Crag and Birks before descending properly into the valley and back to the car.

For anyone wanting to try scrambling we offer introductory courses on easier grades or we can offer a guided ascent of Pinnacle Ridge for people looking for a proper mountaineering adventure.

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