True Adventure in the Outer Hebrides - HXS

Onsight, no pre-practice, ground-up, not even any cleaning or abseil pre-inspection, hard climbing, poor gear, miles from anywhere with no chance of rescue if anything goes wrong, not knowing if there is gear or even holds ahead and throw in poor belays where the second or leader must not fall. Sounds like real adventure climbing in the extreme - in fact Hard Extremely Severe! A number, that some obsess about, wouldn't do the experience justice.

This is what Niall McNair and Dan McManus experienced on the first ascent of Redemption Ark on a huge unclimbed cliff on the island of Pabbay in the Outer Hebrides last week. ( UKC database, Pabbay )

The Hot Aches crew were in attendence and report:

“Niall started up the overhangs on the first pitch. After some strenuous bridging to place gear he rocked over leftwards on crimps, fighting like mad. This was it. With no chance of reversing those moves the only option was upwards. With every metre gained the consequence of failure increased.  

These are the moments in climbing that we both fear and relish. Past the point of total commitment it becomes a battle of mind and body, experience countering fear, instinct and creativity solving the intricate puzzles ahead. The ticking clock of muscles tiring prompt both decision and aggression. Onwards, each move across ancient rock untouched before by human hand.”

A strong Scottish team sailed to Pabbay and experienced perfect weather and lots of climbing 'fun'. You can read a full illustrated report at


From Tom Briggs:

Crash Course E6 6b, 6a, 5a

Follows the leftmost feasible corner in the right hand side of the Great Arch. Pitch 1. (35m) Powerful entry into the corner with hard 6b moves and not perfect gear (Cams and green/yellow? Alien in flared slot). Easier up the corner, then step right to place cam in corner to the right, step back left and climb wall and layback to roof. Belay on large cams. Pitch 2. (10m) Hard 6a. Crosses the Arch via a hanging corner. Boulder problem to spike and rockover onto slab/corner. Pull up and across hanging shelf to sit-down belay in niche. Pitch 3. (30m) 5a. Pull into bottom of large crack/chimney corner and follow to top.

Climbed ground-up with no falls 29th May I think (Sellers pitches 1 and 3). Quite a lot of loose rock came off both pitches. Also, it was a bit damp, so maybe one to do later in the day when that area of crag gets some sun?

I also did the rightmost feasible corner in the black rock as a 'warm up' at E2 5b (35m).

Photos: here and here

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