April Fools

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'Martin McLoughlian - 14/05/2004

Working till 10.00pm at Alien Wednesday night, cars are all packed so we get a few hours sleep and get up and away for 5am. Getting up is easy as ever when your going climbing and we make our way to Ullapool in very good time. The forecast for our four day trip is shit and we anxiously scan the skies hoping we can do the stack, today . We arrive at Stoer lighthouse well before noon. No other cars in sight, just us. This is a good sign as this meant we would be all on ourselves but wimpish thoughts prevailed. It would be nice if someone was already on the stack. This would have saved me from the cold water when setting up a Tyrolean traverse... I'm getting old!

Squelching over the moor we finally see the stack and I can tell Vicky is impressed because for once she is quiet, she's stopped talking. Like many others however, she is less than impressed at the steep and muddy descent into the water below.

At really low tides you can cross the channel at its right end by a boulder, getting you only half wet. Unfortunately I'm half an hour late and nearly get sucked under the aforementioned boulder by the surge of water coming in. Retreating to the middle of the channel I start to swim the short distance to the stack, totally aware that Sammy the seal is swimming below me. Thirty minutes later and I'm a nice hypothermic shade of blue, pondering if I should of trailed a rope across. Vicky is having problems throwing the heavy static line... 20th attempt, bloody hell... 21st attempt our marriage is safe. The job is done the tyrolean is now set up.

We gear up and start the first pitch, a short traverse above the water. This has the routes hardest move and is well protected by good friends. My hands are so cold that the flat holds seem easy to hold today. The second pitch is enjoyable, straight forward and lands you at the big ledge allowing the crux pitch to then be seen up above. This pitch is actually easier than it looks. Big gear and good holds eventually lead you through the overhangs to a leftward traverse. The last move is thin and by now you realise that the friction is good as you pad gingerly leftwards to the cave belay. This cave is a chaotic jumble of blocks, shyly touching each other by a few inches. Im sure it's solid but if you wish to fart... please do this on the crux below! Pitch four traverses the landward face rightwards. Very exposed climbing at about V.Diff leads you to within about ten feet of the belay where the ledge pushes you out interestingly above the water. Pitch Five is a steep little chimney followed by a romp to the top. Once on top you feel like the king of the castle and you always, well I do feel reluctant to leave.

If you do the stack in spring you will have to be care full of the puking Fulmars and the dreaded midges! I've been puked on before by these Fulmars and can tell you it's not the average Saturday night kebab and extra chilli sauce puke!

Eventually a 45 metre abseil hopefully deposits you back onto the big ledge below the crux and a scuttle right to another shorter abseil leads to the Tyrolean. Leaving you to haul ass, back across the rope. At this stage me and Vicki realise we are very tired, we crawl back to the top of the muddy descent... KNACKERED. We set of in the dark today and get back to the car by the guide of the flashing lighthouse. Two days later I end up back there to do it again but in the rain. This my sixth ascent and my mate Dave's first. This has to be one of the best routes to do ever.

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