See Stacks, Sea Stacks.

~ Tuesday 4th June 2024

Almost exactly a year since I last noticed the blog had been a bit neglected, and I'm just back from my annual Scottish rock climbing trip. (I must blog more than once a year)

Anyway, sea stacks this time. We climbed 2 of the best known stacks, the Old Man of Hoy and the Old Man of Stoer. There are lots more to go at!

 Old Man of Hoy

The first view you get of the Old Man of Hoy, from the Scrabster-Stromness ferry. It was pouring rain but forecast dry tomorrow - fingers crossed. There are lots of ways to get to Hoy. We drove to Scrabster, got the Ferry to Stromness on Orkney, then an afternoon ferry to Hoy, a taxi to Rackwick and a short walk to the Rackwick bay bothy. This is a great spot to spend the night if it's not too busy unless you happen to be sharing with Sheffield snoring champion - the worst snorer I've ever heard.

It takes about an hour and a half to walk round the cliff tops to the Old Man. Then an alarming descent path takes you to the foot of the stack. VERY slippery if it has been raining for days!

The classic first ascent route is "only" E1, but the grade doesn't tell the whole story. The crux pitch is reassuringly named the "Coffin Pitch" and starts by climbing down for 5m then traversing, before climbing some very steep ground. Falling off any of this would leave you dangling in space.

The crux involves leaving the "Coffin", a comfortable slot below a roof. A bit of bridging and wide jamming and it's all over, but it felt like a hard-earned few metres. Your belayer can't see you but they'll probably hear the huffing and puffing.

The rest is easier, but was still quite damp from the overnight rain and home to the infamous fulmars. Don't wear your best clothes...

The final pitch is the best, a sustained VS corner crack which widens until you can see through the gap between the twin summits - adding to the exposure.

Abseil off. Good situ belays but obviously you'll want to carefully check everything. Some of this has been here for a long time...The traditional diagonal abseil down the crux pitch is easily avoided if you have 60m ropes. If you have 50m you'd better not forget to fix a rope on the traverse.

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