I think this route is missing a tree. The guidebook says there are three trees, but I only found two. This made Pinnacle Ridge surprisingly confusing.
Pinnacle Ridge is a two-pitch, Severe graded rock climb at Polldubh crags in Glen Nevis in the Scottish Highlands. It’s a lovely and interesting climb and it feels justified that the guidebook (Scottish Rock, Volume 1, South by Gary Latter) gives it two out of four stars. The route pretty much follows the crest of the buttress and so I thought route finding would be easy. However, I was trying to judge the exact positions of rock features by refer to trees.
The guidebook says of the 1st pitch “…and up to a small birch. Step right and belay at good crack immediately below another birch.” For the 2nd pitch it states you should climb “up then along the top of the large flake on the right (past a third birch) then up rightwards…” After belaying by the second tree and climbing a little higher, I found myself in a tree-less expanse of crag and got puzzled.
Whenever there is a discrepancy between what the guidebook says and what I can see, my first thought is that I’ve missed something or I’m not where I thought I was. This is why I spent some time moving around the second pitch looking for a tree. My thinking was that if I could find this tree, I could figure out where the route went and finish the climb. I didn’t find a third tree and in the end just made a best guess on the route and climbed to the top.
The only real result of my confusion about this missing tree was that I wasted some time and got some unnecessary rope drag from belaying in the wrong place. Not serious, but annoying. My guess is that it is the second tree that is missing, meaning that I belayed by what was the third tree according to the guidebook. However, let me know if you think I am wrong or if you find another tree.
12 thoughts on “What they don’t tell you in the guidebook – Pinnacle Ridge, Polldubh crags”
You forgot about the ‘severe’ polish at the start of this route…
Thanks. It would be hard to forget the polish on the first part of this route, but the polish is mentioned in the guidebook. Something I could have added is that the second half of the second pitch has few places to put gear. However, the easier angle of the rock makes this section more concerning than terrifying and the rock makes for some interesting climbing.
Notwithstanding your first comment, it looks like rock with good friction. Is it?
The rock at Polldubh has great friction. It’s possible to climb some really entertaining slabs on just friction and very small holds. There is also a surprising variety to the rock at Polldubh, with good slabs, cracks and flakes giving it real character. Pinnacle Ridge certainly had the worst polish of any of the routes I did there, but it was still doable.
SMC guidebook only mentions 2 trees! My notes says something about route finding ineptitude!
Thanks Mike. That’s good to know.
I was using the Scottish Rock, Volume 1, South guidebook published by Pesda Press. It definitely refers to three trees, i.e. “…flake on the right (past a third birch)…”
If the SMC guidebook only refers to two trees, then I guess it must be an error in the Scottish Rock book. While it’s not good to have an error in a guidebook, I’m pleased to know that I can count trees.
Thanks for clearing things up.
I’m actually planning a trip for later this summer (AUG-SEP) to climb in Scotland and this is one of our destination areas. The last time we were there we climbed on Buchaille Etiv Mor and Etive Slabs. I’m an experienced trad climber from Virginia who is used to route-finding challenges and such. Latter’s book was confusing a lot of times, with some vague descriptions and drawings/photos of start points. Here and there he has decent topos and line-drawings of the routes but in many cases where you need it, the book comes up short. I do like his color-coding system, nice photos and some of the added beta for each region, but it’s not enough for me to buy Vol 2. I plan on buying the SMC guidebooks as I remember looking at them in a shop and wondering if I’d made a mistake buying Latter’s book. Thanks for the beta on Pinnacle Ridge…really looking forward to climbing there. Oh and if you have any info on Wild Camping in that area please pass that along.
I agree with your assessment of the book. It looks good, the photo topos are well done and it’s well set out, but I found the odd bit of information a bit hard to follow when I tried to put it into practice.
Polldubh Crags are great though and you should really enjoy climbing there (hopefully there won’t be too many midges).
I’m afraid that I’ve never wild camped in Glen Nevis and so can’t really offer any suggestions. A blogger who might be able to offer suggestions is at http://jamescarron.wordpress.com/features/wild-camping-perfect-pitches/. He suggests Steall Meadows – which is a lovely place.
Have a good trip.
Possibly one of the trees fell off? People abseiling from it or suchlike? Must put a strain on the root system eventually, especially where they don’t have much grip on a rock face.
Maybe, although I looked around for a tree stump and couldn’t find anything. I guess it’s possible that the tree came down and then someone cleaned the climb by removing the stump. The lack of that third tree certainly had me stumped (sorry).
There appears to be quite a few other locations and climbs missing from Scottish Rock in the Polldubh area. The rear cover advertises updates but there are none on the Scottish rock web site. Further to this Pesda Press confirmed via email that updates are not available. Personally I’ll be sticking with the SMC guides and if additional Beta is needed I’ll get it from Google Books where Scottish Rock is listed in full.
Thanks Steve. I’ll look to the SMC guides next time.