/ Old Man of Hoy

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Matt CS - on 03 Jan 2013
A shout for advice from anyone how has climbed the Old Man of Hoy please.

When's the best time of year to climb there? I take it that you've got to avoid nesting season??

Any advice on kit to take, good accomodation, etc would also be gratefully received.

steve taylor - on 03 Jan 2013
In reply to Matt CS:

I did it in May 19 years ago - no real problems with birds apart from the odd fulmar.

I had family on Orkney at the time, so made my way to Stromness in the morning - my climbing partner arrived there on an early ferry. We then took the local ferry to Moaness, walked from the port to the Old Man (about an hour?), climbed it that afternoon. We then made our way back to Moaness to pick up the camping gear we'd stashed earlier and called for a taxi to Lyness and fell asleep over our celebratory pint in the pub. We camped outside the pub (after asking if it was OK).

It was a long day out, but brilliant. Luckily for us someone had left ropes in place to help out on the diagonal abseil, also there was only one other party on the routes and they were OK with us overtaking them after P1 (they were fannying about and pulling on much of the gear).

The hard pitch was a little harder than we expected (it was given HVS back then), and the final pitch was wonderful.

It takes a fiar bit of organisation, but it's worth it.
steve taylor - on 03 Jan 2013
In reply to Matt CS:

PS - take 2 or 3 large cams - I only had a Friend 2.5 and was relying on Bonington's original wooden chocks.
floss_81 on 03 Jan 2013
The hostel on hoy is great, better than a lot of hotels ive stayed in. They had some eu grant so its spanking. Cant imagined it gets used much either.

As for gear we took standard rack with big cams and two 50m half ropes.If i remember you can ab pitch 1&2 if you have 60m halfs. We found a rope had been left behind so pulled ourself across.
Take some tat and knife. Its covered in old stuff but was all suspect so you might want to leave some of your own.

As for weather, we where just lucky to get a window.

Good luck and enjoy!
Heybaz - on 03 Jan 2013
In reply to Matt CS:

It'll likely be windy whenever you go, speaking as somebody who lived on Hoy for much of 2011. Midges can be pretty bad to awful during June - September.

The OMoH was regularly festooned with abandoned ropes while I was there so do take care that your abseil ropes are definitely going to pull through before going down!

The pedestrian ferry from Stromness to Moaness is the cheapest way over from mainland Orkney; they'll let you take bikes over for a pound or so as well. You can either walk (not bike) past Sandy Loch and through the Rackwick valley (can get boggy at times) or bike or jump a minbus taxi from Terry or Albert from the pier to Rackwick Bay.

At Rackwick (Burnmouth on the map) there is a very good bothy with a loo and running water as well as plenty of flat grass for camping. There are no trees however and driftwood is a rarity so don't bank on collecting firewood.

Rackwick is an incredible place, rated by National Geographic as one of the top 10 coastal locations on the planet.

If you plan to take a car across (Houton to Lyness) be sure to book both ways and book early. I know of a good few folk that made it to Hoy - and then stayed longer than planned because the return ferry was fully booked.

The "youth hostel" at Rackwick, as well as the "outdoor centre" above Moaness are both managed by and booked through the local Council. The Rackwick one is tiny, the other is great with en-suite 4 bedded rooms and a large well equipped kitchen - if you can get into it (it is closed to the public whenever school groups are booked in and is often booked exclusively by other users). The same warden looks after both and can be difficult to contact or to respond and do stuff like unlock the place ready for your arrival... lots of folk were very upset by the service that they didn't receive despite being booked into these hostels.

There are a few B&B's in North Hoy or further south at Lyness and Longhope. The Hoy Inn is no more - it closed years ago.

Also - be warned - supplies of anything in North Hoy are hard to come by. The Post Office at Moaness might be able to let you have a pint of milk (frozen) if you can catch it when it's open but, apart from a vending machine in the lobby of the outdoor centre (extremely limited) or a 30 minute each-way drive to Longhope, you'll need to bring food, etc. with you.

Be sure to check out the Old Kirk above Moaness, especially if they start to run the Friday lunchtime tea-room again and the CraesNest museum at Rackwick if you get a chance. Fascinating places in a truly wonderful island.

If you've any specific questions please drop me a message

In reply to Matt CS: Been there in june twice was lovely.

It is probably the best route in the UK for the grade.
In reply to Matt CS: Oh, and stay in the rackwick bay bothy, it is amazing.
GrahamD - on 03 Jan 2013
In reply to Matt CS:

Hi Matt, this trip report has some information and a few potential 'gotchas'

JJL - on 03 Jan 2013
colina - on 03 Jan 2013
In reply to Matt CS:
i did it in may 2009 be prepared to wait for a decent day .4 hours up and down if i remember.
a fantastic experience .pitch 1 is a doddle /pitch 2 was the crux .pitch 3 ok and pitch 4 was atmospheric with good exposure .a 60m rope will get you down avoiding the last pitch however we only had a 50 m .all good fun but don't take it lightly .loads of gear left so protection abounds (2009)
walking in and down to the start was quite nervy as very slippery and a slip here would seriously spoil your day.

top tip ,,if there is anyone around at the time ask them to take a few photos and send them on to you .we were lucky ,there was a pro photographer there at the time who sent us some excellent photos!
its a climb you will remember for a long long time.one of the hi lites of my life id say .it was that good .enjoy and be safe please.
Stuart the postie - on 03 Jan 2013
In reply to Matt CS:

May or June.

1 x 3 Friend
2 x 3.5 "
2 x 4 "

You could also supplement the above with 1 or 2 #3 Camalots!

Matt CS - on 03 Jan 2013
In reply to Matt CS: Thanks for all your replies and links. Will try to avoid being vomited on!!
mountain.martin - on 03 Jan 2013
In reply to Matt CS:

I was comfortable on pembrokeshire E1's when I went but got freaked out by the approach, the winds, the showers and the situation on pitch 2 so didn't get up it.

A great experience anyway, and I hope to return, but you either need to be climbing harder than E1, or have to be the kind of person who isn't bothered by being out of their comfort zone.
jonny taylor on 03 Jan 2013
In reply to Matt CS:
Plenty of good advice here and by doing the search of past threads recommended by JJL above.

A couple of comments after skimming what was written here:
- The hostel was closed when we went easter 2011. Bothy was lovely.
- Thread on here from last year suggests the chock protecting the roof was pulled out by a climber and is no more (take cams...).
- As for grade/difficulty, for what it's worth I was climbing E1 mountain routes at the time, never led any harder, and I didn't find it impossibly arduous. It's just a grunty offwidth struggle (the way I did it, at least...). I did however have plenty of mileage on dirty sandstone!
Exile - on 03 Jan 2013
In reply to Matt CS:

Frommemory some bits that may be of use:

Bothy is superb.

We didn't bother with hexes, on the advice of a friend who carried a lot of them up the route without using them, just wires and cams.

We did have camalots 3 & 4. The 4 wasn't necessary, but made life easier.

Take long slimgs for the in place wooden chocks on pitch 2.

On the abseil of pitch 2 our ropes slid easily until we had let go of one end and then they got stuck resulting in us having to chop one of them. Your can get back down the first pitch on one doubled up 50m, (we were relieved to find out,) but if you've got 60m ropes take them and go straight to the ground from the belay above pitch 2. Take an old screw gate to clip into the tat and leave. Thread this to ab as it will aid pulling the rope. (If you're really flush and paranoid about not loosing your ropes buy a revolver screwgate for this - I'd do this for peace of mind if I were to do it again.)

If you climb it early in the season take some new ab tape and a knife to replace the bundles of aging tat you will find.

Make sure you are familiar with and have practices a system you are happy with for using a prussik as an auto block when abseiling.

Grade wise it was the only E1 I led that year - I just got a winter climbing head on and fought with it. My mate who had done a lot up to E4 ish on grit however had a hard time mentally seconding the down climb and traverse of pitch 2 which resulted in me leading it all. Exposure and a commiting feel are the issue not technicality - more like mountaineering than rock climbing if that makes sense.

We climbed in August and had no bird problems, (unlike friends who had climbed it at the end of May,) and I can't remember the midges being too bad, however it was windy.

It is one of the best climbing experiences in the UK, go for it.

Misha - on 03 Jan 2013
In reply to Matt CS:
First May bank holiday was fine bird-wise, they were starting to mate but not nesting yet so no puke! As others have said, bothy is a great experience and free, pair of 60s make life easier, cams up to 4 (BD size) for 2nd pitch (5 would go in from memory but not essential, could do it with just a 3 but might be a bit spicy, tho there was an ok in situ cam just below the crux in 2010). Ferries will determine the logistics and there are at least a couple of different options, expect to spend an hour or two figuring out what's best for you! Also I'd recommend staying longer than a day and checking out sone of the other climbing round there, eg the stack at Yesnaby (we didn't do it due to a high swell as it needs a tyrolean / swim but the sea cliffs round there are good fun and quite friendly). Enjoy!

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