I've just returned from a trip to climb the Old Man of Stoer. Climbed on Monday in brief showers.
We climbed it in 4 pitches as per the SMC Scottish Rock Climbs guide book avoiding the traverse as we were there at low tide and walked round the back.
So I'm interested in hearing from folk who, like me, lead at VS (HVS occasionally). The guy I went there with climbs about the same grade.
I found the technical grades from the guide book a bit odd. Pitch 1 I'll ignore as I didn't do it all, pitch 2 I found hard about 5a (hardest move), pitch 3 intimidating but not too technical 4b maybe and pitch 4 maybe 4b again, but not a walkover.
The guide book has them as 1-5a, 2-4b, 3-4b & 4-no tech grade.
I'm just trying to trigger some discussion, don't climb hard and found it very exciting. It was pretty greasy after rain for pitch 2 and we almost bailed from the cave as I felt pitch 3 at 4c would be too hard for me in the conditions. I did lead it and found it much easier than pitch 2.
I found it a bit hard to work out everything you were saying there, but if it helps I thought that the pitch that heads right up an awkward groove out of the cave, before breaking left again (pitch 2 I think) was tough, and certainly wouldn't have given it 4b.
Although I don't think this is the case, is it possible there is some confusion over the numbering of the pitches due to the question of whether you do the traverse? My guide, and I think yours by the sound of it, described P1 as the traverse AND the climb up to the cave (which I think is crazy not to break into two). P2 is then the trip out of the cave that I described above.
I found the second half of P1 to be steep and maybe 4c/5a. I suspect P2 was technically a little easier, but I found it pretty thought-provoking on the day.
In reply to jonny taylor:
Oh, and I couldn't comment on the grade of the traverse either. When I did it, it was soaking wet and slimy, and possibly the most unhappy I have ever been on a climb, having no idea if I was going to pop off at any moment. Probably technically extremely easy though. Not really something that maps onto conventional grades!
My pitch 1 was from the deck (avoiding the traverse from the tyrolean to the base of the arete) to the large ledge at the top of the arete. From there to the cave belay is pitch 2, this is the one I personally found hardest.
The traverse from here to the small ledge at the base of the v chimney was greasy after the rain and not technically very hard but intimidating enough. I found the route finding here quite straightforward.
Finally I felt the v chimney was quite hard.
Like I've said, I don't climb hard or often and don't have much variety in rock types.
In reply to errrrm?:
Ah apologies, looks like I got my description mixed up now I've found a topo to look at. What I said was correct except I had forgotten where the cave was. For all my references to "the cave" read "the belay at the top of P1"!
I don't recall any problems with the top pitch personally, but I'm mostly just going on the fact that I don't remember much about it to be honest! P2 I found very reminiscent of Yorks grit actually, for what it's worth.
Anyway, I the topo I have just dug out is this: http://www.ukclimbing.com/articles/pdf/Orkney.pdf
It lists the pitches as 4c, 5a, 4a, 4b. That sounds pretty plausible to me, and also more in line with what you were saying in your description. What guidebook are you working from?
In reply to errrrm?: I was taken up it when I was 75 and found the same thing as you in pitch 2 which I thought was 5a. But I suspect it is easy to get off route for it is not obvious where to go from below. The crux was the tyrolean where I got wet!
In reply to errrrm?:
When we climbed it,it seemed more like HS than VS,but presumed VS standard given because it was multi-pitch and exposed.I have to admit that the conditions we did it in were a superb May day.So I wonder if you did not quite get the right line?
No, I'm sure we got the right line. I don't climb enough, which is probably the main factor.
I've climbed several Scottish multi-pitch routes and if Ardverikie Wall and Eagle Ridge can get HS (I think severe myself) then this can easily be graded VS. The scramble down to the start alone warrants it! I don't have a problem with the adjectival grade, it's the technical grade that seems a little inconsistent.
I wonder how many people actually do that initial 5a traverse? I've been on the stack twice and declined it twice-it looks horrible. The second time I decided I'd sooner swim and set our own tyrolean from the left-hand arete rather than use the in-situ one.
Starting from there I'd say the pitches felt like 4a(a bit rattly and maybe nudging 4b), 4c/5a (strenuous), 4a (exposed but easy), 4b (potentially awkward and udgy)
> I wonder how many people actually do that initial 5a traverse? I've been on the stack twice and declined it twice-it looks horrible.
I have. Set off along it, very greasy and on big open holds that I don't like. Set up some cams to back up the in-situ gear, then scuttled back to the start. Sent Big Ed along instead as he's big. Then had to second it which was no better!
All the rest was fine except the projectile vomiting sea birds. 4b and the odd 4c from what I remember.
I first climbed the Original route 4 years ago, and did the Diamond Face route just 2 weekends back. We always set up the Tyrolean to the left arete avoiding the 5a traverse in from the right. My thoughts on the Original route grades are:
Starting from left arete:
Pitch 1 up to large belay ledge - 4a/b
Pitch 2 ledge up to cave - strenuous 4c/5a
Pitch 3 traverse from cave, up the groove to large ledge - 4c
Pitch 4 topping out - 4a
The exposure, and sometimes greasy rock can make it seem a lot harder...
> We did the initial traverse and found it by far the hardest climbing on the Original route.
Agree. The second pitch is also exciting if, as a result of suddenly finding youuself in bright sunlight, you tie three layers of clothing round your waist, making negotiating the higher bulges in a deckout situation somewhat precarious.
We f*cked up the ab and didn't get down in one - trusting a dire 2-peg hanging belay on the overhanging ab down the NE side still makes me shudder.