I’m just back from an excellent three day trip to North West Scotland with Falkirk Community Trust Outdoors, where we were based in the Inchnadamph Lodge Hostel. There was a climbing team of myself, John, Clare, Gayle, Jim and Linda and a walking team with Craig of Lorne, Mary, Morag, Sarah and Tom.
On Monday the walkers headed for a windy ascent of Conival and Ben More Assynt and the climbing team made for the iconic sea stack of the Old Man of Stoer. After carefully descending the cliff, where we used a rope to protect the worst section, John did the swim and we rigged a Tyrolean Traverse to the South-East arete of the stack. Rigging to this corner gives a higher Tyrolean and avoids the initial traverse pitch of the Original Route. As it was high spring tides and there was a significant swell the higher Tyrolean was much appreciated.
Despite the intimidating conditions of a fairly stiff wind and one shower the team topped out on the Old Man of Stoer. I’ve previously done this stack with the Tyrolean to the North-East arete and this gives a pretty clean abseil straight back to the Tyrolean. The downside of the higher Tyrolean we used on Monday was that the abseil to your starting point is much less clean and with the wind twisting the ropes we had difficulty pulling them. After some re-ascending to redirect the ropes and eventually with a pull from the top of the cliff we retrieved them, but it did make for a late finish. If abseiling the South-East arete, particularly on a windy day, it’s probably worth doing it in multiple abseils to limit potential problems with pulling the ropes.
On Tuesday the walking team did the long South to North traverse of Foinaven, which they completed in admirably quick time. There was fairly heavy rain early in the day, so the climbing team opted for some coasteering/sea level traversing either side of the beautiful beach of Sheigra in the morning. This allowed the crags to dry up a little and in the afternoon we climbed a couple of routes, Dimples and Mum’s the Word, on the tidal island of Na Stacain before making a speedy retreat up the damp but excellent Diff chimney/rib of Squeeze to Please.
On Wednesday Craig and the walkers headed for Sgurr an Fhidhleir and Ben More Coigach, where they got superb views. There were showers again in the morning, but these cleared and the climbers had a few hours at the Pinnacle Area of Reiff. Reiff has a huge number of superb short routes on good rock with stunning views and the team enjoyed the more relaxed nature of the venue after the previous two days. The venue meant John and I could rig/climb lots of routes including Midreiff, Fly by Wire, Westering Home, Pop-out, Puckered Wall, Xyles and Channering Worm.
We finished the trip with a mass ascent of Moon Jelly to the top of the Pinnacle; an appropiate way to end a very good three days.