Friday, 31 July 2015

Isle of Lewis

Our camp site view 
Impressive coastline
Originally we planned a 6/7 day trip to the island but given the way our summer has gone we knew the this would be an optimistic itinerary.  With Uisdean's van and my tent, we agreed that if it was very wet then we would head back to the mainland (so I didn't get wet and uncomfortable) to find some alternative plans.  Our plan to visit Lewis developed quite a while ago however as the trip approached the weather was looking doubtful.  Fortunately we were given a break and it looked as if we could climb for the first 4 days at least.  By no means 'stella', but we went for it anyway.
Cold but we could still climb
We left Glen Elg at 3am, took the 5am ferry from Uig on the Isle of Skye and arrived at Tarbet at 7am.  Admittedly quite tired but we drove on to our chosen destination.  Given the 'long isle' of Harris and Lewis comprises the largest of all the Scottish islands it was over an hour before we arrived at Uig Sands campsite, idyllic and perfectly located for some of the best sea cliffs on the island.  Tent was erected then, Uisdean slept in his van and I got 3 hours in the tent before we geared up, had some breakfast and headed to the crags.
Me on Painted Wall
We headed to The Painted Wall, a easy 3 minute walk in to an array of quality routes on the eponymous Lewisian gneiss.  We started off on a nice 2 pitch E1 5b called Triton***, accessed by abseil which gave nice climbing above the water at low tide.  From here we abseiled into the main area of The Painted Wall.  It was my lead so I couldn't turn down the 4* E4 5c called...The Painted Wall, a superb route on great rock.  Best E4 I have done this year for sure.  After this Uisdean cruised up another brilliant route called Dauntless E5 6a *** which certainly built the pump up into our forearms, sensational climbing again.  After a quick bagel, we abseiled back in and I led up The Dreaded Dram, a 3* E4 5c which again, was brilliant climbing and pretty spaced protection.  Another great route!  A good start.

Me seconding Dauntless.  Uisdean's foot in for a photo bomb!
The Dreaded Dram
Day two was dawned with drizzle and cloud.  Our plan was to climb the spectacular exposed diagonal line of the Prozac Link but after we abseiled in we found damp and 'smeggy' rock.  Lets save it for another day.  So to get back out we climbed a VDiff called 'If All Else Fails' followed by 'It's Raining Rocks' E3 6a just before the weather closed in.  We bailed and opted for a spot of sight seeing instead.
One of the many abseils.  Prozac Link is the wall behind me.
The morning of day 3 was the same, damp and overcast.  As the day went on it was dry enough to climb (between showers).  We went to the stunning Dalbeg beach and onto Dalbeg Buttress.  Given that it was my lead, I stupidly jumped on the stunning 4* crack line of Limpet Crack E3 5c.  Given it was a little greasy and damp I got utterly 'flash pumped' and had to sit on the rope to allow my arms to recover before continuing onto the top.  My advice, warm up on the E2!  Uisdean then forged a path up the amazing 3* Tweetie Pie Slalom E5 6a which was stunning and a great lead by the youth.  We were both feeling a wee bit tired so I finished off on the excellent 4* E2 5c called Neptune up the right side of the crag.  Probably in the top five E2's I have ever done.
Limpet Crack
Tweetie Pie Slalom
A beautiful little bothie
We had got intelligence from our source that Thursday was to be the best weather.  This meant The Prozac Link.  We didn't want to make the same mistake so we went and climbed a route called Moscow Mule, a 2* HVS 5b which we both agreed was more like E3/4 5c.  Desperate.  Anyway, as this took ages to climb it gave ample time for the PL to dry.  The sea was calm, the wind was gentle and the sky was blue.  Everything was perfect.  Off we went, every pitch was brilliant, this turned out to be the best E4 I have climbed....ever!  Exposed, impressive, perfect rock, adequate protection and on a deserted cliff.  These 2,900 million year old weathered cliffs certainly provide some of the best rock climbing in the country.  Cant wait to get back.

Sun at last

Topping out on Moscow Mule.
Uisdean on the 1st pitch of The Prozac Link
1st pitch of PL
2nd pitch - brilliant
End of the second pitch
We timed it perfectly, as we reached the top, the heavens opened which marked the end of the climbing for us on the island, the weather deteriorated and we headed back to the mainland the following day...after a good few beers, games of pool and a couple of rounds of darts in Tarbet.  A great wee trip, back to work this week working on a Summer Mountain Leader Training.

Bath time!

1 comment:

Nicholas said...

It just keeps getting better. Climb on Guy.