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Must do HVS-E2 on Lewis

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 climbingpixie 14 May 2022

Off to Lewis for a week and a half and I'm after some route recommendations in the HVS-E2 range. Never been before so any suggestions (or helpful tips) welcome! Thanks 😀

In reply to climbingpixie:

Having had about 6 trips, I really don't think you can go wrong following the stars in the guidebook. I might have a look through later to see if anything stands out though. Go to lots of different crags to make the most of the most beautiful coast in the world  - there are so many gems. The only disappointing place I've been is Torasgeo (though it has been destarred now).

 Gary Latter 14 May 2022
In reply to climbingpixie:

Sea Cliffs: 50m static useful, though could get away with 25 or 30 on many of the smaller crags.

Geoda an Taroin is great wee crag, less than 10 mins from road; Moac Wall is great at E1; four excellent E2s also.

Mangersta is the most impressive of all the crags on the coast, plenty to go at at the grades you're after; likewise for Flannan Area & Boardwalk Walls. Folded Wall at Aird Mhor Bhragair further north also great.

Would also say Creag Liam on Bernera is another must visit crag.

If seas are rough, Caledonian McBrayne Justice on Creag Tealasdale in the hills is a great E2 5c, with two varied pitches. Faces NW, catches sun later in afternoon. Likewise, Tealasdale Slabs good for longer multi-pitch, though takes few days to dry - both HVS's best with 60m ropes. Crulabhig Crag also a good option for a quick hit - 100m from road.

Worth noting there's virtually nothing open on a Sunday! We were cycling down at Luskentyre on Harris few weeks back, seeking coffee and cake to no avail...

There's a recently opened Grinneabhat Hostel we came across, in converted school at Bragar, up near Shawbost. Great cafe/restaurant during the day, staff were friendly. In Stornoway, nice wee cafe upstairs above cycle shop The Hub on outskirts of town. Cafes few and far between near the crags, some in some of the communities centres here and there. Shop at Uig is well stocked for topping up supplies.

 Jon Stewart 14 May 2022
In reply to climbingpixie:

One thing I found was some of the grades were a bit wonky (sorry Garry!). I was climbing about the same grades as you in say Lakes terms, and found some seriously soft touches, e.g. I thought The Painted Wall (E4 5c) about E2 and a great route, Neptune (E3 5c) soft E2, The Bernera Prow (E2 5b) felt like a short HVS (odd to see UKC votes on this one), 

...but we also got beaten up now and then too so we didn't feel like we could subtract a grade from everything and get stuck in. More of a gamble if you go for a harder route, but one which mainly paid off!

I'll definitely go back. Mainly because Prozac Link is one of my all time goals, and we foolishly bottled it and did an E2 there instead (which felt like a chossy HVS 4c, but scenically magnificent). I went with expectations a bit too high. It isn't Pabbay with facilities, and it isn't miles and miles of Sheigra. But there are some really great crags! 

Have a great trip and hope you get the weather.

2
In reply to Jon Stewart:

The grading seems more aligned with other Hebridean islands than the mainland. Comparing it with the lakes is always going to give a big discrepancy. 

We felt the grades (in comparison to mainland Scotland) would range from either spot on, to 1 grade soft. Big grades for bad seas!  Not many sandbags on Lewis...

Prozac is mainly E1/E2ish but does have a few bits of proper climbing on it.

Back to the OP:

There are tonnes of great (as alluded to low end) E3s, so if you're going well on the E2s the don't be afraid to try some.

I really enjoyed the roaring foam:  https://www.ukclimbing.com/logbook/crags/uig_sea_cliffs_central_-_mhangarstaidh-779/the_roaring_foam-54840

Limpet and Neptune on Delbeg are great.

In reply to Jon Stewart:

> I thought The Painted Wall (E4 5c) about E2 and a great route, Neptune (E3 5c) soft E2, The Bernera Prow (E2 5b) felt like a short HVS (odd to see UKC votes on this one).

If you thought they were that soft, I think you must have just been going very well!

> It isn't Pabbay with facilities andIt isn't miles and miles of Sheigra. But there are some really great crags! 

It is its own thing really, the sum of the parts and the ambience being as good as anywhere.

Yes, and definitely some Sheigra quality crags.

Post edited at 15:07
 Jon Stewart 14 May 2022
In reply to Robert Durran:

> If you thought they were that soft, I think you must have just been going very well!

I guess it's a possibility, but it never feels like that at the time

 Pina 14 May 2022
In reply to Robert Durran:

Agreed! As a HVS/E1 climber I had a hard time on the Bernea Prow!

 joeramsay 14 May 2022
In reply to climbingpixie:

I don't get the impression Sea Dog (E2 5b) gets done very much, but I thought it was absolutely fantastic and deserves to get done more. You can get it on the way home from folded wall, tides permitting 

 henwardian 14 May 2022
In reply to climbingpixie:

+1 for screaming geo at Mangersta. I think I climbed The Dark Crystal and Grant's Bad Hair Day (both E2). I did Paranoid Slippers after multiple hangs ("falling" off the crux is literally hanging on the gear as it's bomber, above you, and the crux is a couple of traverse moves), and apart from the crux it's not that hard and in a crazy position to get the exposure above the cave. Obviously Prozac Link is the dream route there but not one you'd want to start off on without being pretty confident at the grade (or at swimming). Lighthouse Arete is also a nice low-fear way to climb something easy but yet take in the awesomeness of the place (the stars are more for the situation than the climbing quality on this one though I would say).

I did a bunch of other stuff but it was ages ago and I've forgotten most of it... I do remember doing a few really nice routes at Painted Geo.

In the Outer Hebrides showers can arrive very quickly on strong winds but you can also get a situation where if you wait it out then the same strong winds dry the cliff in an hour or two, so even with pretty dodgy weather, you can still get quality climbing in. Especially as loads of the crags are so close to the car that you can dash back and shelter pretty quickly.

 Andy Moles 15 May 2022
In reply to Jon Stewart:

Do people go different ways on The Bernera Prow or something? There was a comment in last year's SMC Journal suggesting E3. From what I remember, very steep but well protected 5b = correct at E2.

It's almost as though some people (not looking at anyone in particular) fail to account for their own relative strengths and weaknesses in proposing grades...

In reply to Alasdair Fulton:

>  Not many sandbags on Lewis...

I have come across a few. The fact that the guidebook is so new means that inevitably there will be grade movement in both directions. A lot of routes apart from multi-starred ones in Gary's guide will have had few ascents. In all my trips I have never met any other climbers not on the same trip!

In reply to Robert Durran:

......apart from the guidebook writer.

 Gary Latter 15 May 2022
In reply to Andy Moles:

> Do people go different ways on The Bernera Prow or something? There was a comment in last year's SMC Journal suggesting E3. From what I remember, very steep but well protected 5b = correct at E2.

> It's almost as though some people (not looking at anyone in particular) fail to account for their own relative strengths and weaknesses in proposing grades...

Totally agree with all of the above. I've done this route fair few times, seems like bog standard E2 5b to me, but I do like jamming... One comment in the logbooks "About 5.10a if you've climbed in America." sums it up perfectly. Same goes for that other ultra-classic jam crack Wish You Were Here on the Financial Sector at Neist - standard E2 5c if you can jam, certainly not E3!

OP climbingpixie 15 May 2022
In reply to Gary Latter:

Brilliant, thanks for the tips! I'm not used to climbing and camping in places I need to be so organised - we're definitely going to need to make sure we're well stocked up in Stornaway before we head up!

OP climbingpixie 15 May 2022
In reply to Jon Stewart:

Prozac Link is definitely on the list. My partner climbs a few grades harder than me so he can rope gun the hard bits! It's actually been quite a while since I led E2 but I've often found big sea cliff type routes to feel a touch easier than their equivalents in places like the Lakes so that's why I'm hoping I might be OK to aim a bit higher than my usual HVS/E1ish grade. Most of the really amazing stuff seems to be in the E3/4 bracket hence why I thought it was worth getting recommendations for easier stuff.

1
 Jon Stewart 15 May 2022
In reply to Gary Latter:

"About 5.10a if you've climbed in America." sums it up perfectly. 

That sounds like it's a pure crack climb...there's no way I'd have declared it "HVS" if it was that cracky. I like a good bit of steep jugs'n'jams, but I am absolutely crap on proper cracks. Either way, as someone for whom E2 has always generally been a proper challenge, it seemed like a long walk to a pretty cruisy short route (and then it rained so we walked back).

1
 mike barnard 16 May 2022
In reply to Andy Moles:

> Do people go different ways on The Bernera Prow or something? There was a comment in last year's SMC Journal suggesting E3. From what I remember, very steep but well protected 5b = correct at E2.>

I had to rest most of the way up the thing. To be fair I have done a good bit of steep E2/3 and get the impression from the logbook that most ascents of Bernera Prow have been from E4+ climbers, e.g. you, Jon and Gary. When I went there a couple of years ago I thought Neptune E2 5c, Bernera Prow E3 5c and Painted Wall E3 5c. 

 spragglerocks 16 May 2022
In reply to climbingpixie:

Thanks Julie...a nice tick list to go at.....

 Andy Moles 17 May 2022
In reply to mike barnard:

Just to be clear my comment about people not factoring their strengths and weaknesses was aimed more at Jon!

I thought Bernera Prow was the E2 equivalent to Mother's Pride. I guess with these really steep things it can make all the difference if you cross the lactic threshold, they can feel steady away if you don't and the living end if you do.

I also recall Painted Wall as pretty easy for E4 but agreed with Neptune being upgraded to low E3. 

 Andy Moles 17 May 2022
In reply to Andy Moles:

> I also recall Painted Wall as pretty easy for E4 but agreed with Neptune being upgraded to low E3. 

So don't pull the 'you climb too hard to think E2s can be hard' argument on me

OP climbingpixie 17 May 2022
In reply to Andy Moles:

> I thought Bernera Prow was the E2 equivalent to Mother's Pride. I guess with these really steep things it can make all the difference if you cross the lactic threshold, they can feel steady away if you don't and the living end if you do.

I'm starting to feel like a winter and spring of squalid sit start boulder problems and crimpy quarry routes might not have been the best preparation for this trip, especially as fitness has always been my biggest climbing weakness... I look forward to a week and a half of pumping out and falling off around the height of the Moonboard! 

Post edited at 08:07
 mike barnard 17 May 2022
In reply to Andy Moles:

> I thought Bernera Prow was the E2 equivalent to Mother's Pride. I guess with these really steep things it can make all the difference if you cross the lactic threshold, they can feel steady away if you don't and the living end if you do.>

That's so interesting as I'd say it's miles harder. Mother's Pride is jugs the whole way so steepness not really an issue and I think I found one 5c move on the whole thing, so felt like an E2. Bernera Prow doesn't have the roofs but is still pretty steep and I thought at the time would really need to be jugs the whole way, which it really isn't, for the given grade to apply.

In reply to Gary Latter:

> Totally agree with all of the above. I've done this route fair few times, seems like bog standard E2 5b to me, but I do like jamming...

Felt fine at steep E2 5b to me too. Spot on grade. Definitely a lot easier than Mother's Pride which I did around the same time and on which I did feel a sense if urgency.

> One comment in the logbooks "About 5.10a if you've climbed in America." sums it up perfectly.

But it's not an American style pure crack thing, so that doesn't make sense to me. And 5.10a can be anything from about HVS to E3 anyway! 

Post edited at 09:00
In reply to Andy Moles:

> I also recall Painted Wall as pretty easy for E4.

Probably fair. But another route which will feel fine if you are fit and comfortable at the grade but terrifying if at all pumped getting the gear in.

> .....agreed with Neptune being upgraded to low E3. 

I wouldn't argue with that. 

 Gary Latter 17 May 2022
In reply to mike barnard:

> That's so interesting as I'd say it's miles harder. Mother's Pride is jugs the whole way so steepness not really an issue and I think I found one 5c move on the whole thing, so felt like an E2. Bernera Prow doesn't have the roofs but is still pretty steep and I thought at the time would really need to be jugs the whole way, which it really isn't, for the given grade to apply.

Perhaps you were having an off day Mike? Seems out of character, as you consistently downgrade a lot of established well trodden routes, judging by the fairly regular grade opinions you contribute to the New Routes section in the Scottish Mountaineering Club journal.

I'd say that Mother's Pride at Suidhe Biorach is benchmark E4. Very steep and juggy; think your average E2 leader would be flailing.

Whilst canvassing opinions on grades and stars for previous editions of my Scottish Rock guides, I did receive some very erratic suggestions from folk... Someone suggested The Pillar at Diabaig was HVS 5a! Clearly utter bollocks... I agree it's fairly soft for E2, but don't think anywhere near HVS?

Still at Diabaig, fairly recently I climbed a new route Conflagration up the left side of The Condome, which I graded E3 5c. A recent ascent suggested this is woefully overgraded - nearer HVS/E1. I do recall that if you stuck close to the crack it would give a good technical E3 5c, but was easier to climb away from the obvious protection on good holds further left. Clearly we can't both be right!

 Jon Stewart 17 May 2022
In reply to Andy Moles:

> Just to be clear my comment about people not factoring their strengths and weaknesses was aimed more at Jon!

In my defence, it's not as if I was climbing particularly well...I was sat on the rope all the way seconding puffing crack, so hardly an "e4 climber" nor super fit on steep stuff.

In reply to climbingpixie:

Lots of good things to go at, Palace of Colchis is an excellent route that catches the morning sun. Upper end of the grade and two long pitches and a short sting in the tail.

I thought Screaming Geo was awe inspiring but the rock quality wasn’t up to the standards I thought it might’ve been, I pulled a few blocks off some routes. Word of warning that I think the Dark Crystal has suffered a big rock fall at its base since the guide was released and as such there’s more loose stuff there and it’s gotten more difficult. The other good route there was Screamadelica, wild moves with good gear but again slightly suspect rock at times.

The routes around Moac Wall are all outstanding and on really good sound rock and well protected, would recommend a few hours there at least. My favourite bit about Lewis was the ability to visit 3-4 different crags a day and still get a good number of routes in. Access didn’t seem super complicated and the stuff around Mhangersta is rarely more than 15 minutes from the road. 

In reply to Nathan Adam:

> Lots of good things to go at, Palace of Colchis is an excellent route.

We actually backed off this basically put off by rock quality; couldn't be bothered when it simply didn't seem up to the standards of everywhere else I have climbed on Lewis!

 Jon Read 17 May 2022
In reply to Gary Latter:

> Whilst canvassing opinions on grades and stars for previous editions of my Scottish Rock guides, I did receive some very erratic suggestions from folk... Someone suggested The Pillar at Diabaig was HVS 5a! Clearly utter bollocks... I agree it's fairly soft for E2, but don't think anywhere near HVS?

I did this recently with that comment in my mind, and would be very happy for it to stick at E2 -- an HVS leader would not enjoy it!

> Still at Diabaig, fairly recently I climbed a new route Conflagration up the left side of The Condome, which I graded E3 5c. A recent ascent suggested this is woefully overgraded - nearer HVS/E1. I do recall that if you stuck close to the crack it would give a good technical E3 5c, but was easier to climb away from the obvious protection on good holds further left. Clearly we can't both be right!

Hmm, yes that was me -- sorry, Gary! I'll dig out a photo and draw on it the line we took -- whatever we did climb was easier that the E2 on that slab, and indeed all the E2s we did that weekend.

In reply to climbingpixie:

Don't miss Rubha na Beirghe, which is a lovely spot, and the nearby Orpheus Wall for a good selection of E1's and E2's (harder grades also available).

 Jon Read 17 May 2022
1
In reply to Robert Durran:

Yeah the rock wasn’t the best but the position makes up for it. A hard route to back off from after the initial steep traverse? 

 Gary Latter 17 May 2022
 Munch 17 May 2022
In reply to climbingpixie:

We were at the slabs on Staca na Beirigh on Sunday. Only managed the one route due to a rising tide and big swell, but it seemed a great crag at your grades and a real adventure just getting to the crag. 

If it's too windy for the sea cliffs,  Beannan a' Deas is a nice little crag up in the hills. Diagonal is great at HVS. The E1 is a nice soft touch and the E2's look good (not done them). 

 Jon Read 17 May 2022
In reply to Gary Latter:

Yes, this bit of rock was the first thing to dry at the crag -- definitely a worthwhile additional from that aspect alone!

 mike barnard 17 May 2022
In reply to Gary Latter:

> I'd say that Mother's Pride at Suidhe Biorach is benchmark E4. Very steep and juggy; think your average E2 leader would be flailing.>

It's funny how different routes feel different to different folk. I'd maybe go as far as low E3

Funnily enough that's what I was considering. I reckon a decent E2 leader would have a good shout on Mother's Pride, i.e. worth their while giving it a go. It'll be interesting to see what average E2 leaders think of Bernera Prow; as I say it's all harder climbers who've given their views in this thread so far, and for the most part in the logbook. I could be wrong of course, but it does not actually seem to have had that many ascents, at least if the logbook is anything to go by. 

I think bottom of E2 has to be the pretty well established consensus for Diabaig Pillar now, no argument from me on that!

 Andy Moles 17 May 2022
In reply to mike barnard:

For what it's worth, I did think Mother's Pride is at the bottom end of E4, so wouldn't put a whole two grades between them.

 Neil Foster Global Crag Moderator 17 May 2022
In reply to various:

The 2 occasions we went to Bernera, the tide prevented us getting on The Prow, and I didn't go on Mother's Pride the one time I've been to SB, so I'm singularly unqualified to join this debate. But I did wonder what folk thought about Mussel Meltdown at Bernera?  That felt pretty tasty at the grade to me...

In reply to Alasdair Fulton:

I completely endorse this comment from Alasdair, further up the thread.

Have a great trip!

 Jon Stewart 17 May 2022
In reply to Gary Latter:

> Someone suggested The Pillar at Diabaig was HVS 5a! Clearly utter bollocks...

E1 5a?

> Still at Diabaig, fairly recently I climbed a new route Conflagration up the left side of The Condome, which I graded E3 5c. A recent ascent suggested this is woefully overgraded - nearer HVS/E1. I do recall that if you stuck close to the crack it would give a good technical E3 5c, but was easier to climb away from the obvious protection on good holds further left. Clearly we can't both be right!

We found it significantly easier than the e2 just right, and brimstone. But tricky to protect.

In reply to climbingpixie:

Chicken Run on the same slab as Roaring Foam is a superb E1.

OP climbingpixie 22 May 2022
In reply to Robert Durran:

Thanks all for the suggestions. God knows what we'll actually get done given it's forecast to be windy, showery and cold for the next week. Have so far managed a brief trip to Sheigra, where we managed to get three routes done in gales force winds before being driven off by the cold. Even pulling through the steep headwall of Bloodlust Direct in softshell trousers, long sleeved top, belay jacket, buff, hat and windshirt wasn't enough to defrost me from the chilly belay at the bottom!

I'm not even sure we're definitely going to sail over at this rate. If the forecast stays as is it just looks like it'll be miserable until the weekend, especially in a tent. I'm guessing there's no super secret amazing crags on the islands that dry really quickly and are sheltered suntraps that don't catch all the wind going...?

 DaveHK 22 May 2022
In reply to Gary Latter:

Someone suggested The Pillar at Diabaig was HVS 5a! Clearly utter bollocks... 

That might have been me, it just felt really, really easy. There's a lot of it but it's well protected and all the difficult moves have good rests before and after.

3
 mike barnard 22 May 2022
In reply to climbingpixie:

Strong westerlies can be a right bugger unfortunately. On the windy day of our trip we went to the one crag on the east coast and it was still quite windy there! There's one or two short non-sea-cliffs (one on Bernera if memory serves?) but not a lot really. I agree, the forecast doesn't look very inspiring.

 walts4 22 May 2022
In reply to climbingpixie:

Been here camping now for the last 10 days, climbed 4 days in this time due to high winds rather than the rain. Invariably it’s rained overnight, rather than in the daytime, so able to get out exploring, walking & experiencing the sheer delight of Lewis.

Theres more to this place than just the climbing, obviously it depends upon your view point & priority during your time here.

All the sea cliffs dry fast, the issue this last week or so has been the velocity of the wind rather than the rain, so definitely worth a punt & traveling.

Needless to say, no other climbers here at the moment.

OP climbingpixie 24 May 2022
In reply to mike barnard:

Ah, the perils of UK climbing trips. It's the main reason I've never done a NW Scotland trip - it's far enough to need to book time off work and that means being at the mercy of the weather.

OP climbingpixie 24 May 2022
In reply to walts4:

Yeah, I'm trying to get my head round the idea that getting some climbing in will be a good bonus rather than the main activity. We spent yesterday's wet morning on Handa Island looking at the birds and that was pretty special so I'm feeling like the trip isn't a total write off. We're sailing shortly and hoping to climb today before the wind gets up again and then we'll play the next few days by ear. If nothing else, it's a chance to visit somewhere I've never been and take dramatic photos of windswept beaches...

 walts4 24 May 2022
In reply to climbingpixie:

Hopefully you’ll have fun with a few great routes thrown into the equation, so a successful trip.

This place gets under you’re skin, off the island this morning after an amazing climbing day yesterday & already talking about a return next year.

Good luck with the weather.

OP climbingpixie 24 May 2022
In reply to walts4:

Did you guys do Moac Wall yesterday? Just been there today for a quick few routes and it was well chalked but not yet logged. Glad you got some climbing done, looks like we might have some OK days when the wind drops towards the end of the week. But based on the two routes we've done I'm definitely keen for more!

 walts4 24 May 2022
In reply to climbingpixie:

Went to the veineous wall yesterday & actually met another team. Sure they may have headed over that way (moac wall) after we met, but sure they are leaving today.

Recommend intravenous drip over that way, a underrated 2* route in my opinion, the routes to the right are still wet unfortunately.

Post edited at 21:43
OP climbingpixie 30 May 2022
In reply to climbingpixie:

Well, we stuck it out through the worst of the weather last week - mostly by virtue of bailing to an Airbnb in Stornoway for a few days (and not being able to change our ferry to go home early - I checked several times). The rain on Thurs/Fri left a lot of stuff soaked and though it's windy it's also been overcast and cold so the crag options seem to be exposed, freezing and dry or sheltered and damp. That said, stuff has improved a bit since the weekend. We managed a decent afternoon at Folded Wall ticking off Snake Dyke and the various E1s then nipped to Dalbeg for Neptune (Limpet Crack was totally gopping). I have to say, this did not feel like the soft touch I was expecting from comments on here and in the logs! Maybe because it was wet or maybe because I was utterly freezing from belaying my partner on it for bloody ages but I found it really tough going and I was glad to be seconding.

Sunday was too cold and windy for us but we had a good few hours in Aurora Geo today before the rain set in again. Did Chicken Run (ace - great recommendation!) and Poultry in Motion (very steady, easier than CR tbh) and seconded Roaring Foam, which again I found pretty hard - pumpy throughout and really reachy at the bottom. I'm starting to think that perhaps E3 might be a bit much for this trip, given my lack of low extreme trad mileage over the last 5-6 years and my abject unfitness, but it doesn't matter - the main thing was always getting some good challenging routes done in amazing surroundings. And they really are amazing! This must be one of the most beautiful coastlines out there - I'm struggling to think of anywhere more stunning except perhaps Lofoten.

Anyway, fingers crossed the next 2 days bring nice weather and good climbing before we sail back on Thursday. 

Post edited at 21:30
OP climbingpixie 02 Jun 2022
In reply to climbingpixie:

Well, we're sailing back to the mainland today. I'm going to miss waking up to a view of Ardroil Beach! Gutted to be going as the weather has sorted itself out but we've got a few days on the mainland to climb too before we have to go home. Thanks for all the recommendations and advice, shame the weather meant we didn't get to try a lot of it as we ended up very limited by conditions.

Managed to get a decent half day on Tuesday. It pissed down at lunchtime for an hour or two so we did some good sitting in the car and looking out of the window. We headed to Flannan Slabs area when it had dried off but the routes on the inner wall were very wet so we just did Limka, which I really enjoyed. Then headed to Painted Wall and did Gravity Man, which felt pretty hard going due to my aforementioned lack of fitness but was good fun, and Painted Wall itself, which I really enjoyed but we didn't think it was 4* or E4. I've definitely done harder E2s in the Lakes!

Yesterday started off auspiciously, with a cracking forecast for sun all day, so we thought it was worth trying for the big tick of Prozac Link. Headed to Screaming Geo around lunchtime but the base of the crag was sheltered and the wall wasn't getting any sun so we thought we'd leave it a bit as the first pitch looked greasy and the second pitch was soaked. Spent an hour or two chatting to some friendly walkers, intermittently scrambling down to the ledge below to check on the state of the route, before finally abbing in. Unfortunately it had clouded over in that time and we got a bit psyched out, decided the route looked too hard in those conditions and soloed out up the vdiff. Forecast now for cloud all afternoon so we decided it was probably a write off as we'd need ideal conditions to do it. Packed up the bags, pulled the ab rope and coiled it, had a brief argument over what to do instead (both feeling very unpsyched) and a whinge about how Lewis was sh*t and overrated. Then a chink of sun appeared! We gave it 15 minutes and it looked positive so we set up the ab again, racked up again and headed back down...

What. A. Route!!! It might be the best thing I've ever climbed. At the moment (11 hours on and still buzzing) I'm struggling to think of a better in terms of climbing, position, exposure and variety. Andy led the first pitch, which was nails, and I was disappointed to get hugely pumped getting gear out and ended up resting on. Then I did the second pitch, which feels audacious at 5b, questing off boldly leftwards over the immense sea cave. I'm sure the position was amazing but I was pretty gripped and don't remember much. Lovely belay at the top to sit on while my other half tackled the third pitch, which is a wonder of tormented geology and was my favourite pitch. I'd been a bit nervous about the prospect of leading the top pitch as I'm not super confident on 5c but a combination of exhilaration and not wanting to have to try to swap over on a semi hanging stance meant I thought I'd try it, especially as it's cruxy rather than sustained. Happily it was fine - the hard bit is short and safe - and I was soon ensconced on the incredible pink pegmatite leading to the top. Felt like climbing on Minecraft blocks or something, pulling on big chunky crystals. I found it a bit unnerving tbh as I was hideously sweaty by then and the crystals are obvs much more slick than the gneiss but I got to the top with only minimal gibbering. We topped out in the evening sun, crag glowing and the sea sparkling behind us, both of us knackered and sweaty and footsore. I think I finally understand what four star climbing is! 

Post edited at 08:26
 Graham Booth 02 Jun 2022
In reply to climbingpixie:

Glad you guys managed to salvage something from the trip!

 Neil Foster Global Crag Moderator 02 Jun 2022
In reply to climbingpixie:

Brilliant!  What a fantastic, uplifting end to a frustrating trip.  We did PL last year on a similar, mixed weather trip, and it was the highlight for us too.  Really memorable.  Good effort on the top pitch, which I followed (fortunately!) and which seemed much bolder and more involved that we'd been expecting.

 mike barnard 02 Jun 2022
In reply to climbingpixie:

Sounds like you definitely made the most of your trip. Very jealous!

I agree with you about Painted Wall, quality-wise, though it is very good. For what it's worth, Neptune did seem worth 4*; it's hard to better that immaculate wall for single pitch routes.

OP climbingpixie 02 Jun 2022
In reply to Neil Foster:

> Good effort on the top pitch, which I followed (fortunately!) and which seemed much bolder and more involved that we'd been expecting.

Thanks! I thought it would all be over once I'd stepped round onto the pegmatite. Sweatily clambering up the quartz, protected by a shonky RP and a half stuck in Rock 1, was somewhat more intense than I'd expected.

Yeah, it definitely salvaged the trip. Apart from PL, I hadn't really been wowed by the climbing on Lewis. I mean, it's really good and the rock is cool and obviously the island is stunning but most of the stuff we did was just nice seaside cragging. Especially as many of the routes felt a bit unbalanced, with hard starts giving way quickly to juggy romps (or vice versa). I mean, I like a juggy romp as much as the next girl but I'd rather have a pitch of sustained interest. Clearly the weather was a major factor in that as I find it hard to feel really psyched when it's overcast and damp and the cold and wet and wind was a real limiting factor to what we could try. The day we went to look at Bernera it was so windy we were pretty much being blown backwards away from the cliff top!

OP climbingpixie 02 Jun 2022
In reply to mike barnard:

I'd probably repeat Neptune if I went back. I'm sure it's a brilliant route but I just couldn't appreciate it when I was so cold and miserable. I genuinely almost cried on my way up it, partly because of the cold, partly frustration with the weather and the wet rock but mostly disappointment that I was finding it so bloody hard when it had been my number 1 potential E3 lead if I was going well. It was distinctly NOT a 4* experience!

 Neil Foster Global Crag Moderator 02 Jun 2022
In reply to climbingpixie:

This was our recce, a couple of days before we  did it…

https://www.flickr.com/photos/readza/51272903780/

OP climbingpixie 02 Jun 2022
In reply to Neil Foster:

That sea is wild!!

 Andy Moles 06 Jun 2022
In reply to climbingpixie:

Nice, enjoyed reading the account of Prozac Link. 'A wonder of tormented geology' is about right!

 jack89 06 Jun 2022
In reply to climbingpixie:

I can definitely second just how good Prozac is! I'm still buzzing from it too - feels like it's going to be ages since I'll do something that good again.

Overall better weather on my trip I think and I would definitely go again in the next couple of years.

In reply to Jon Stewart:

> ...The Bernera Prow (E2 5b) felt like a short HVS (odd to see UKC votes on this one), 

Yeah, no.

A couple of observations on grading

  • It's a large area, so there are statistically going to be soft touches and sandbags.
  • Unless you are the idealized well-rounded climber, anything that suits your preferred style is going to feel easier than something that doesn't. I like corners and cracks, my climbing partners like technical wall climbs.
  • The The Bernera Prow (E2 5b) is not HVS, that's absurd - and I actually *enjoy* that kind of climbing. 
In reply to Robert Durran:

> Chicken Run on the same slab as Roaring Foam is a superb E1.

Interesting, I thought it was pretty ordinary - the kind of thing that's a dime a dozen at Millstone. I thought Gravity Man (E2 5b) much better.

In reply to jack89:

> Overall better weather on my trip I think and I would definitely go again in the next couple of years.

We had fantastic weather but the one problem Jack and I had was that the prevailing winds were from the NE for most of the week. With the majority of the crags West facing, many routes didn't really dry out until the afternoon. Having said that you can usually find some south faces on which to pass the time.

Highly recommend Sea Dog (E2 5b) for anyone in the area.

OP climbingpixie 06 Jun 2022
In reply to planetmarshall:

I definitely thought most of the routes we did on Lewis felt a bit softer than their grades suggested. We did The Bug and The Heretic at Tolly Crag on Friday and they both felt pretty tough in comparison, though I'm sure some of that was just the difference in style from the pristine Lewisian jugs we'd got used to. Having a bit of fitness for hanging around and placing gear is definitely an advantage - I saw loads of logbook comments suggesting Gravity Man was really soft but I felt really quite pressed at the top, it's the most horrendously pumped I've been on lead in a long time! 

OP climbingpixie 06 Jun 2022
In reply to jack89:

I was really pleased to see you and Dan managed to get on it the day after us. It really is something else! It's up there with Vestpillaren as the two best routes I've ever climbed, proper god tier stuff.

 mike barnard 06 Jun 2022
In reply to planetmarshall:

> Interesting, I thought it was pretty ordinary - the kind of thing that's a dime a dozen at Millstone. I thought Gravity Man (E2 5b) much better.

I thought that was just a typical juggy sea cliff crack

In reply to climbingpixie:

The Bug is pretty benchmark E2 IMO, even in the land of soft touches of the grade such as The Pillar and Buena Vista, it stood out to me as feeling similar to routes of that grade further south that often feel harder than their NW counterparts. 

The Bug was a sustained and thoughtful lead, one of the very best single pitches I’ve done. 

 mike barnard 07 Jun 2022
In reply to Nathan Adam:

Yes, the Bug is more of a proper E2. I was quite surprised how lichenous the stuff around there was (including the Bug); quite a contrast to some other venues of pristine slabby gneiss - Diabaig, Carn Goraig etc.

 Cog 07 Jun 2022
In reply to Nathan Adam:

Thought you were going up Storm.

In reply to Cog:

I was going to abseil down and have a look but beer pulled me away, assuming someone has been up there today and got it already. 

In reply to mike barnard:

I don't remember The Bug being too bad in that respect but the second and third pitches of Teddy Bears Picnic seemed quite green in places, thankfully it doesn't take anything away from the very good climbing. 

The crags at Tolly were great, would love to go back and do Gudgeon and Decadent Days but probably too midgy now.

 Cog 07 Jun 2022
In reply to Nathan Adam:

It's still there, we could see it when we walked down from After Crag.

OP climbingpixie 07 Jun 2022
In reply to Nathan Adam:

Oh yeah, I'm not saying it's hard for the grade - just that I found it tough, especially compared to Lewis! But I'm pretty out of practice at the grade (last time I'd led E2 was 2016!) I'm not in a good position to gauge difficulty anyway. I agree that it's brilliant - very sustained and absorbing climbing from start to finish, with a mid route run out just long enough to start feeling a bit twitchy.

In reply to climbingpixie:

Yeah sorry that’s more what I was getting at, that you finding it tricky wasn’t unjustified.

Glad you had a great trip! 


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