/ Old man of hoy preparation
The main thing is be good at rope work for coming down unless you have a really long rope, and if you don't, don't forget to fix a rope on the way up for the diagonal abseil down.
What Al says.....
....and don't overlook Stromness either it's a great wee town. Excellent museum and fresh scallops straight off the dive boats. The ferry trip from Scrabster is stunnng and gives great views of the stack and St John's Head.
I found the reverse - start swearing loudly and fluently as you approach a ledge to give the birds ample warning of your arrival and allow them time to back away. The last thing you want to do is pop your head into their personal space unannounced. Nasty stuff, fulmar vomit.
Ergo, practice basic Anglo-Saxon. Far more use than any of that fancy ropework of which I have heard people speak.
Climb in less than perfect conditions. We set off in the rain and there was a strong wind trying to carry our ropes, gear and body heat away.
It is a good day out, for sure.
If you get an opportunity to climb on dirty quarried sandstone then take it! That will give you an idea of what to expect on much of the lower 2/3 of the route...
I wouldn't worry about stamina. Expect lots of bridging moves. As for getting through the crux, I found it an offwidth arm-jamming battle, but I gather it can be done a bit more elegantly than that.
> What Al says.....
> ....and don't overlook Stromness either it's a great wee town. Excellent museum and fresh scallops straight off the dive boats. The ferry trip from Scrabster is stunnng and gives great views of the stack and St John's Head.
Use 60m ropes. Be aware that in damp conditions, the crux pitch is very intimidating even to second, starting as it does on a slopey traverse totally out of sight of the belayer. Practice being slick at lowering and abseiling.
Make sure you acquire some fashionably distressed clothing. The wrench will be less when you have to throw it away afterwards.
Take 2x60m ropes, then you can abseil straight to the ground from the top of the 2nd pitch, avoiding any diagonal chicanery.
Take a knife to cut off all of the rotting tat at the ab stations. You might want to take some of your own, we just reasoned that 15 bits of old tat were unlikely to fail simultaneously.
The crux is a bit graunchy, but not too tough for 5b. The sandiness was also much less of a problem than I was expecting.
Lead the top pitch - it's one of the best VS pitches I've ever climbed.
Fulmar vomit is at least as unpleasant and foul smelling as everybody says, but I found it washes out just fine.
Stay in the bothy at Rackwick Bay - it's well appointed and a truly beautiful spot.
I can't think of any particularly relevant training you could do. Just be sure you're competent with ropework.
Bring one biggish cam to protect the crux (WC 4 perhaps?). A few large hexes are also useful for the main pitch, but not crucial, as are a few mid-long slings to clip the in-situ threads.
PS It's brilliant, enjoy :)
I only seconded the climb but found the traverse second pitch was a bit of a rush and the hardest move!
wouldn't worry too much about climbing ability apart for that one move on the crux pitch its reasonably straightforward climbing.
best day of my climbing life by far.
check this vid http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SljaV0Cc9d0 out to get your juices flowing!
We did it May bank holiday and only a few birds mostly interested in each other. Bothy great, locale great, but would not fancy the approach in the wet - uber steep narrow muddy path. All in all brilliant, just go enjoy.
Work on your photography. TBH the climbing's not great and was only given HVS when we did it. That seemed about right but I'm happy to take E1 for it. But for all its shortcomings it could just be the most memorable route you do in your whole life so enjoy it and take loads of pix.
I wouldn't even consider the diagonal abseil. We climbed on 2x60m ropes and easily reached the floor from the second stance.
Actually, that's a really good point. The belay at the top of the second pitch is easy to miss from above, and scrambling back up the green sliminess is no fun. Make sure you don't go past it on the right (looking in).
Also, the green slimy bit that you climb isn't as green or slimy as it looks from the approach path!
Regarding the crux I was just about leading E1 when I did it and i found it difficult and exposed feeling, despite it being safe enough. Take big cams with you, it will really help.
With regards to setting off on P2, think very carefully about the rope drag that a right angle in a rope can give. I got vomited on by a fulmar, it was vile, scary (because my reaction was to flinch away i.e. backwards) but did wash out.
My top tips would be commit a couple of days in case the weather is too poor, stay in the Rackwick Bothy, practice on sandy climbs as suggested above, take big cams (seriously, take big cams). Don't be afraid to dog it. it would still be an amazing experience.
Also let us know if there's still a beer at the top. My climbing partner and I were going to drink it this Summer but I thought it might upset my abseiling safety....
Sadly never saw a book on our visit.
I second that, underneath the green there was actually some really fun VD/S climbing on lovely sculpted rock.
In reply to puppythedog:
I actually placed and extended a bomber piece under the first roof and then downclimbed and took out the lower piece(s?) I had placed. I can't imagine what it would be like without that.
Also, have a plan for communicating (or not) on that pitch. I caused my second a lot of grief because I didn't know when was the time to actually *pay out* rope to allow him to do the downclimb from the belay...
Traverse is NOT VD to second in remotely damp conditions - which it often is. Especially since there is a long, long swing off if you fluff it.
I wouldn't over-worry about acquiring large cams - the biggest things I had were a Friend 2.5 and a No 9 rock and wasn't worried. having said that, there would indeed be loads of opportunities to place them.
I found the climbing straightforward, but the position is without compare.
I found the wind blowing out of the final crack rather unsettling until it opened up enough to see daylight through it - the Old Man actually has two heads......
There was a puffin living in a burrow on the top when we were there - friendly little chap.
We had 45m ropes - the back-rope and pull back in from space added extra spice - nothing quite like abseiling towards rope ends that are dangling in mid-air to focus one's attention!
> Make sure you acquire some fashionably distressed clothing. The wrench will be less when you have to throw it away afterwards.
I can't believe you ever throw climbing clothing away, John, however distressed!
A couple of big cams are useful. We had a Camelot 5 which was perfect at the crux. A couple of other large ones useful for the rest of that pitch. The rope work with twin 60s is easy. As for the fulmars it is the person that leads the easy pitches that will get it. I was the 4th man of the day up and the fulmars had run out of vomit.
Lots of photos, old video and beta on my blog at http://talisman-activities.blogspot.co.uk/2007_05_01_archive.html
I didn't have any big cams for that crack, though I did use the in-situ wooden blocks, old and tired as they were.
> I didn't have any big cams for that crack, though I did use the in-situ wooden blocks, old and tired as they were.
As of the past year or so apparently one of the old wooden wedges is no more? We never used cams either as big hexes (the 3 largest sizes) are far more secure and less likely to damage or explode the soft rock...
Sandy jamming for training...Baildon Bank near Bradford has a couple if your nearby, also I wished I had large cams, the tat on the wedges was horribly old!
> Traverse is NOT VD to second in remotely damp conditions - which it often is. Especially since there is a long, long swing off if you fluff it.
I agree. Having psyched up for the great thrutch-fest above I was very surprised by it.
As to the Fulmars, yes they can be a problem, especially as the usual air rifle method isn't really practicable on the Old Man.
> Sandy jamming for training...Baildon Bank near Bradford has a couple if your nearby, also I wished I had large cams, the tat on the wedges was horribly old!
Are there wedges still in situ? I did it back in about 1980 and I thought they looked pretty ancient then! Surely they can't be the same ones, but why would anyone replace them?
I also second the sugegstions to think about communication. I had serious rope drag having put a right angle in the rope and I, in thta way that you can only think when on the pointy end, that I had run out of 70metre rope. I was unable to communicate with Mark who was seconding that pitch and this incresaed the difficulty and anxiety.
I did it, perhaps 3 years ago, and there were a few wedges with what looked like white string on, which I clipped and just hoped not to fall off! I was pretty frightened really!!
Do not wear your £250 Gortex jacket if they don't like you!
It was the only E1 I led that year, so is low in the grade. It was a bit of a fight though - the feeling it left me with was more akin to having done a winter chimney than gliding over sun kissed rock.
I would try to climb in exposed, (mountain / coastal,) situations as the exposure can be quite intimidating if you are not use to it.
Take long slings for the wooden chocks on the main pitch, (if they are still there?)
I'm not a great crack climber and it wasn't a problem - the route climbs cracks rather than being a crack climb if that makes sense.
I recommend building a 1/100 scale model of it in your bedroom, kneeling down next to it and squirting tooth-paste over your head.
not sure when in the summer you are thinking but Rich will be helping some of our clients to also fulfil there dream to get to the top. If you are there at the same time come and say hello. 14th till 24th July, we will be staying at the campsite in Stromness.
We are also climbing the other stacks which are just as amazing, look at this one - http://orangehouseclimbing.blogspot.com.es/2009/10/orkneys-what-amazing-rock.html
Watch out for the gulls! ;0)
We did it at the end of April last year and there was no problem with gulls. The belays are all a bit in need of TLC, so take extra gear / tat / maillons to back them up if you feel nervous. Pitch 2 would be very conditions dependant. We had perfect conditions and it felt around HVS - would feel much worse if damp. Cams above WC 4 not essential but the odd one would be handy. Utterly fantastic experience.
Those of our party in proper boots on the damp descent path were less nervous than me in my trainers.
Enjoy, its fab.
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