Sunday 9 January 2011


Storvegan takes that obvious corner ramp.

A few years ago Dave Mcleod invited me on an adventure to climb the old man of Storr up to Skye. We managed it, but it was pretty terrifying exercise in technical climbing (solid British 6a) on some pretty horrific rock. It felt a bit more serious than the E3 grade it gets in the guide book would suggest. 

In terms of scenery I remember what impressed me the most, was not the old man itself, but cliffs behind.  Massive impending buttresses that looked like they belonged in Mordor. They were steep, dark, damp and the rock was crap. In short they were repulsive, and yet contained some amazing looking lines. I had heard that some of the deep gullies had been climbed by Fowler, but that was back in the eighties when winter were winters, and after the old man I certainly wasn’t inspired by a summer attempt.

The crux involved some tricky moves left under the roof and then up some very thin ice in the corner above

Then during January 2010, when winters had started becoming winters again, I read that Martin Moran had climbed the huge corner ramp on those cliffs, and naming it Storvegan. What at line. However, lots of things were happening closer to home and I didn’t make it back up there in time.

Just before Christmas 2010, winter was back with vengeance. I had a few days off, as had Rich Bentley. I had heard that a friend had done Strovegan in early December, and it was colder, than it had been then. Therefore a plan was hatched for Storvegan.

A significant part of the reason that I go winter climbing is the landscapes and views; the ephemeral world of snow, ice and rock is so removed from daily life.  Walking up past the old man through the strange gothic snow covered landscape of Storr as the sun edged up over the mountains on the Eastern horizon was about as atmospheric as it gets.

Heading back down through the amazing snow covered landscape of Storr.

The route itself went well, with me getting the crux pitch. It felt quite pokey for grade VI, 8, with the gear being pretty hard won on the crux. Two more gradually easing pitches and some moving together led right to the summit. A leisurely coiling on ropes and sorting of gear before strolling back down through the enchanted landscape, and just able to make it back through the forest with out the need to head torches.

Perhaps not the most balanced route I have done, but the for line, and atmosphere of the place, one of the best.

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