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Scrambling Pinnacle Ridge
Pinnacle Ridge on St Sunday Crag is one of the Lake District’s finest Grade 3 scrambles. It is high up on the hillside and offers superb views of Ullswater and the Helvellyn range. Most of the difficult parts can be avoided if you feel the need (but why would you?), and escape from it is relatively straightforward. So it’s quite a good choice for someone trying to ‘up their game’ a little. Perhaps it’s one disappointment is that is quite short, certainly in comparison with some of Snowdonia’s longer Grade 3 routes.
Approaching Pinnacle Ridge
Care is needed to find the start of the route, especially if visibility is poor. Be sure to have a map and scrambling guidebook to help with this. Once you are on the (correct) final scree slope, Pinnacle Ridge becomes obvious – a clearly defined ridge with a deep gully immediately to its right.
Lower Sections of Pinnacle Ridge
The lower sections of Pinnacle Ridge offer uncomplicated scrambling over blocky steps and ledges. The rocks have been broken into pinnacles of all shapes and sizes right from the start. The views over Ullswater are pretty spectacular throughout, including from low down on the route.
The first problem step comes in the shape of a large slab of rock, with a tricky little move to gain access to the slab itself. Once onto the slab, t’s a nice spot to stop and take a short breather.
The Corner Crack
The crux of Pinnacle Ridge is the corner crack which appears suddenly as you round a corner behind a huge pinnacle tower. A few bridging moves get you started and then there’s the option to continue bridging and escape onto a half-way ledge; or to transfer over to the left wall and climb the crack itself. There are plenty of foot ledges and handholds, and it’s all done quite quickly.
Another slightly awkward move follows to leave the platform at the top of the crack, as you balance your way up a block where everything seems to be learning the wrong way and pushing you outwards.
The Final Pinnacles
The absolute highlight of Pinnacle Ridge, is the traverse across the highest two pinnacles.
First, with some nifty footwork, you can walk straight across some jagged perched spikes with intimidating drops below. This brings you to a gap between the two highest pinnacles.
What happens next is very much up to you and depends on how you are tackling the route. A solo down-climb? Make a belay and lower or protect your partner as the climb down? Or set up an abseil?
Once off the final pinnacle, you are safe in a little gap at the top end of the gully.
Summit Buttress of Pinnacle Ridge
There’s one more bit of scrambling to do. After a short walk of 50 metres or so, you find yourself at the foot of a steep little buttress. There’s plenty of choice, but choose your own way up this to glory at the top.
From here, an obvious path takes a rising leftwards traverse line to bring you up by a cairn at the top of St Sunday Crag on the broad summit slopes of The Cape.
Having completed Pinnace Ridge on St Sunday Crag, you have two main options.
For the shorter day, turn left and head downhill towards Birks and back to Patterdale. For a longer day, with several more hours of walking, turn right and head towards Fairfield or Grisedale Tarn. There are then many ways in which you can extend your walk to take in some of the higher summits of the Lake District.