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Topic - The Old Man of Stoer March 2012

KatieMay - on 23 Jul 2012
An account and video of my climb up the Old Man of Stoer with some very good friends: the only question is, what do I do for my 30th?

Ross had decided that we should film the trip, mostly for our own entertainment but also because the online films were a really important part of the research for the trip. The filming is a little shaky at times but hopefully there are a few entertaining and useful bits in there.

The Old Man Himself

We set off for Lochinver on the Friday of an extremely hot week in March, the drive was a slog but made bearable by the excellent company and copious amounts of food. About 9 hours later we arrived at the Lochinver Mission bunkhouse, an awesome place with friendly staff. We set off early the next morning on a windy drive and arrived at the car park in Stoer, the weather could not have been more perfect, sun and a light breeze. Ross and Wendy had researched the trip as thoroughly as anyone could and we set off on the walk to the Old Man. Once he was in sight the excitement started to build and the reality of what we had to do was a little daunting. What hadnít been included in any information was the descent down to the base of the stack, if youíre considering doing the climb bear in mind it is a very steep path, perhaps a grade 3 scramble in itself. We got the group down and everyone chipped in to set up the tyrolion, though Jacko was in charge. The idea was that everyone would make an attempt at climbing the stack, a tall order considering that half of the group had never done any climbing before. On finally reaching the stack that half decided that it was above their capabilities and the climbers started to get really excited, we were actually going to climb it! The first three to climb were Ross, Wendy and myself. I felt privileged that they wanted me to climb first, but we had all climbed together before so it did made sense. We started on a traverse of the base, setting up a handrail to make it easier for the next climbers and then it was three more pitches up to the top. Ross led the first, Wendy the second and Ross again up to the top. The rock was perfect, we could hear Tom playing his ukulele in the background and a with a quick glance over to the mainland saw Kirsten carving a wooden spoon, a very chilled out day. For me seconding the climb wasnít too stressful, really good grip thanks to the weather, the crux wasnít the hardest part from my point of view but the whole climb was a challenge and really good fun. No words could do justice to the feeling of topping out on the stack and we didnít have time to really take it in as we quickly descended hoping there would be time for the next group to go up. The plan was for Ross to wait at the cave and belay the next two people up from there. Unfortunately when we got to the bottom of the stack the tide had come in too far and because of the steep cliff we were concerned about getting everyone back up in the day light. It was a tough decision to make but ultimately the right one as we were walking back to the minibus in pitch black and over uneven boggy terrain. The rest of the group did get a go on the tyrolion traverse and Pippa made it across the first traverse to the base of the climb. Understandably it was disappointing so I had to try hard to hide my own excitement at having reached the top of such a memorable climb. We made the most of the weekend by walking up Suilven the next day, my first monroe: a long walk in and a steep climb but well worth it for the view.

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