North-West Sea Stacks, Cragging and Walking

The last three days I’ve been away with a Falkirk Community Trust Outdoors trip to the North-West of Scotland. After meeting up with the rest of the group in Aviemore on Monday morning we headed up to our base for the trip at the excellent Inchnadamph Hostel. A quick turnaround at the hostel and we dropped the walking group of Craig, Anne, Cath, Isobel, Lorn and Wilson off to do a traverse of Breabag. The climbers then headed to the Point of Stoer and the target for the day of the classic sandstone sea stack of the Old Man of Stoer.

The Old Man of Stoer

The Old Man of Stoer

There were several parties on the stack, so we asked permission to use their Tyrolean to get John across and then set up our own to the Southern side of the stack. Once across Gayle and Iona climbed with John, whilst Graeme and Tam climbed with myself with both teams climbing The Original Route.

Iona and Gayle just below the top of the Old Man of Stoer

Iona and Gayle just below the top of the Old Man of Stoer

On Tuesday we dropped the walkers off to complete an unusual full traverse of Quinag, which several described afterwards as their best day walking in the hills. The climbers headed North and walked in towards the beautiful Sandwood Bay. We cut off before the bay itself and descended steeply to the base of the cliffs near Am Buachaille.

Am Buachaille from near the base of our descent

Am Buachaille from near the base of our descent

After a change it to wet suits, a slippy boulder traverse and a short swim we climbed the second classic sandstone sea stack of the trip, Am Buachaille. We climbed this via The Original Route.

John, Graeme and Tam crossing the channel to Am Buachaille

John, Graeme and Tam crossing the channel to Am Buachaille

The rock is more friable than on The Old Man of Stoer, the climbing is bolder and there’s more loose rock on ledges, so care is definitely required.

John leading the first pitch on Am Buachaille

John leading the first pitch on Am Buachaille

A good look at tide tables and a fairly quick ascent is also needed to avoid a long swim. However, on the day we had plenty of time and the swim with the tides we had was no more than 8m.

Graeme and Tam on the second belay ledge on Am Buachaille

Graeme and Tam on the second belay ledge on Am Buachaille

On Wednesday I got up to drop the walkers off for a traverse of Cul Mor and then the climbers had a more relaxed day at Reiff, where we climbed a range of routes, mostly on bottom ropes, up to E3 5c.

Graeme bottom roping Pop-out at Reiff

Graeme bottom roping Pop-out at Reiff

We had sunshine and dry weather throughout although it was windy and cool on the tops at times.