I was rummaging around some old slides the other night that I scanned years ago and found a series from an ascent of the Old Man of Stoer in May 1991.I can`t remember why Bob wasn`t climbing that day but luckily,for whatever the reason, he was on hand to take a stack (forgive the pun if you will ) of photos with my camera.I usually carried it with me when climbing but as you`ll see later on it wasn`t really practical this day 🙂
I think we were camping at the beach at Achnahaird and climbing on the sea cliffs at Reiff.It`s a bit like Stanage by the Sea nowadays but there was no guidebook to the area when we went there at first. Alison had been out here previously with a guy from Glenmore Lodge and as he had been writing the guidebook we assumed she knew what she was talking about when she said she would point out suitable routes for us. ” You just abseil down there and climb back up..it`s V.diff” she said at one section of the cliff.Bob and I did so ….it wasn`t V.Diff. The only time in our lives we have ever resorted to aid climbing I think 🙂
Anyway,after an “exciting” day at Reiff,Bob,Brian,Steroid Sam and I went up to the Old Man of Stoer for a change of scenery.
Parked at the lighthouse and walked in enjoying the late spring sunshine and were soon at the top of the cliff.
We scrambled down to the platform opposite and it looked as if we were lucky with the tides.I don`t mind getting wet late in the day but not at the outset.Me no swimmy either 🙂 There was an old rope in situ which was a stroke of luck.Not knowing how long it had been there or if there had been much abrasion in the winters storms we rigged up a safety rope and sent Brian across first because the rest of us were scared 🙂
He didn`t fall in so over I went next with the benefit of one of our own ropes also in place now.There were two other guys in front of us so we let them get onto the second pitch before Brian led off…
….followed by me…
The guys in front were climbing very slowly which didn`t bode well for my fear of a dooking on the return.We knew we had only a few hours or so before the tide came back in and cut us off.Nothing we could do about it as there was no way to pass them.Here we are bored waiting for them to get a move on 🙂
Now I`ve always enjoyed a bit of exposure nipping at my heels but at the belay before the fourth and final pitch I was a wee bit distracted by it.I was sitting,facing outwards on a small ledge with an overhanging rock behind me forcing my head out over the edge and making me face downwards.The surge and movement of the waves crashing throught the gap between the stack and the mainland made me feel a bit seasick although I was ok again the minute I started climbing much to my relief and I soon joined Brian on the summit.
We teamed up with the two English guys for the abseils to speed things up.They went down the first half on our ropes and then set up their ropes for the second abseil.
Something disastrous/funny ( take your pick) happened here subsequently to two of our pals.They decided to do it on a day trip from Glasgow It was late on in the year and everything went well up to the top of the stack. Mr X ,for they shall remain nameless,abseiled off first and on nearing the end of the rope swung himself onto the ledge half way down.Mr. Y came down shortly after to be told by Mr.X that on no account should he let go of the rope after he had swung into join him on the ledge as they would then be marooned half way up the stack with night fast approaching.Mr.Y for reasons known only to himself chose to ignore this sage advice and on gaining the ledge retrieved his figure of eight from the rope and let it go.Mr.X was not amused to see their lifeline dangling 15 feet out from them and told Mr.Y in words to that effect 🙂 The situation was retrieved,along with the rope, however when Mr.X tied together all their nuts,wires and sundry other gear and being of an age like myself and having seen too many cowboy movies as a kid,proceeded to fashion a lasso and succesfully snare the rope.As it was now dark and they were clad only in tshirts they were a tad relieved to say the least.They arrived back in Glasgow in the early hours of the next morning a wee bit later than planned 🙂 Which reminds me that Death Route Dave,another guy in the club at that time had his stag party on top of the Old Man would you believe 🙂
Nothing much in the way of excitement befell Brian and I and we were soon back at the bottom of the stack.I was a wee bit concerned about the fag situation,the wind and the rising tide in that order.I had the cigarettes with me but if they got wet I would be a long time without one and think I deserved one back on dry land after the ascent.I put them inside my helmet on the grounds that if they were to get wet in that safe place then that would probably be the least of my concerns 🙂 They reckon every seventh wave is bigger than the preceding six,so,bearing this in mind I counted them off and then launched myself as fast as my arms could carry me over the channel to safety.
Brian doesn`t smoke and likes a spot of adventure so he counted the waves in reverse fashion to me and launched himself in at what he judged to be the appropriate moment for maximum pleasure…
Here`s meself the older,slimmer version,back on dry land.a bit wet but with cigarettes intact…
Special thanks to Bob for taking the photos.
Being wet remins me of an old joke. A wee Glasgow woman happens to be heavily pregnant and while walking along Sauchihall Street her waters burst.She rushes into the public telephone box and dials 999 to get through to the emergency services.”Help,help” she wails.”Please calm down Ma`am” says the operator ” First of all,where are you ringing from ?”
The wee woman replies…” From the waist doonwards” 🙂
You may have to speak Glaswegian to get this one.!
Edit: On reflection I`m not sure if the Reiff part was in fact the same weekend.It may have been earlier in the eighties.Feel free to send a donation to Alzheimers Scotland if you will 🙂