Monday, 7 June 2010

Old Man of Stoer - sunshine rock in Scotland...

Back in the UK on a combined work & social visit, with a good weather forecast, and Craig having a few days off plans were quickly hatched to head for the far North West of Scotland for some sunshine rock...

Having hardly done any climbing for the last 3 months I was not feeling on prime form, so we opted for some classic routes at amenable grades, with a warm-up on the classic "Storm" in Glen Nevis, before heading North towards Applecross. As ever, our plans evolved, and having found a good camping spot just above Kishorn we realised that another classic route, "Sword of Gideon" was just minutes up the road on Sgurr a'Chaorachain.

Camping spot overlooking Kishorn bay:

Pitch 2 of Sword of Gideon - South face of Sgurr a'Chaorachain, perfect grippy sandstone, with good crack climbing split by a delicate traverse mid-pitch:

View from the second belay towards Kishorn - not bad!!:

Back at the car we then set off even further North towards Stoer, with a view to climbing the Old Man of Stoer, a 50m high pinnacle separated from the mainland by a narrow channel.

Nice camping spot on Stoer peninsula:

Stoer Lighthouse:

After an evening spent watching porpoise swimming by, an early start saw us searching for the stack in the morning mist; finally it appeared (just about):

With the mist clearing and sunshine trying to break through we scrambled down to the rock shelf oposite the Old Man. As luck would have it a previous party had left a rope in place on the tyrolean traverse across to the stack, so we didn't have to draw short straws for who would swim across to get a rope over... Craig on the tyrolean:

The first pitch is the crux of the climb, and lived up to its reputation, a steep traverse across horizontal flared cracks was made harder by very damp conditions thanks to the mist - a bit like trying to hang on a rounded edge liberally smeared in butter...

Craig following the traverse on pitch 1:

Fortunately from here the rock & conditions improved immensely, and the rest of the climb was outstanding, with solid rock, good friction, and most importantly no angry seabirds en route to puke at us (a favourite trick).

Craig launching onto some perfect dry rock on pitch 2...:

Steep climbing on great holds:

Pitch 2:

Stepping round the edge on pitch 3:

Through the last section of real climbing before the summit:

Craig on the summit:

Looking South:

and North:

Setting off on the airy abseil back to the base:

Sea kayaker paddling through the channel between the Old Man and the mainland:

Not much clearance at high tide...keep those feet up!:

Home and dry:

Another classic Scottish adventure!! With the Old Man of Hoy already in the bag some years back, there is only Am Buachaille left of the 3 'Great' Scottish sea stacks...

Old Man of Stoer in the sunshine:

Friendly natives:

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