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Carrying on from the England and Wales thread.
Best climb. Any grade. Any length. Bonus points if its also an exceptional winter route.
Only restriction is that it must be in Scotland or on one of the Scottish islands.
Skye Ridge. Obviously.
If it counts, maybe. I suspect Shibboleth with the True Finish will be the winner. I’ve certainly done nothing to compare.
The Needle,Big Top, Bludgers, Shibboleth I can't chose between them which is best.
Minus One Direct and Centurion stand out for me.
Probably Centurion more so just by the fact it climbs through such impressive ground at quite a modest grade, but I enjoyed the overall feeling of Minus One more.
Vulcan Wall in the Cuillin is also one of the very best routes I've done so far. Great positions, clean and solid rock, perfect protection and a view to the Outer Hebrides. Hard to beat really.
Orion Face Direct.
(Easiest way up the biggest face. Could I have another hundred choices though?)
+1 for that
> Probably Centurion more so just by the fact it climbs through such impressive ground at quite a modest grade
Is VIII 8 considered modest now? ;-)
Something on the islands must be on the list, though sadly I’ve nothing to compare it against on the mainland. Sula (E2 5b) and Spring Squill (E1 5b) stood out from the little I’ve done, though Prophecy of Drowning (E2 5c) wins on position if not the quality of the climbing.
The ultimate for position though certainly not for the climbing is surely Original Route on the Old Man of Hoy...
At least one route on Garbh Bheinn I'd say.
Cioch Nose or Ardverikie Wall for a Severe.
Direct Nose route on Sgurr an Fhidhleir must be up there as on of the best winter lines in a amazing situation? The NW is pretty hard to beat on a good day...
Dalriada on the Cobbler for summer rock has to be one of the most inspiring lines in the whole country
Wrong India Steve.
Maybe not modest, but not bad for a king line of Scottish winter that goes up one of the most prized bits of cliff in the whole country. I'll probably never find out for myself!
It is a pretty good HVS as well though...
Someone's already suggested mine but I think the Slabs need a mention...not done this but did watch friends on Pinch Direct from Hammer and it looked amazing. As a memorable experience Old Man Of Stoer. There must also be candidates on Ben Eighe and Arran.
Integrity for HS
Skye Wall (E7 6b) takes some beating - the location, the wall, the line, the quality of climbing. Probably won't collect the bonus points for a winter ascent any time soon though.
Something in the Hebrides is worth a shout, hard to pick one route though.
Surely Torro has to be on the list?
From my relatively limited Scottish experience I'd offer:
Ardverekie Wall HS
The Needle E1
Edge Hog E3/4
Skydiver definitely in with a shout at E3 although there are plenty of other good choices at that grade.
> Skye Ridge. Obviously.
Has to be!
You almost need to split these lists into single and multi pitch. There's some amazing single pitch routes but they're often going to lose out to multi pitch ones due to length.
I thought P1 of Arc of Covenant into P2 of India took the best of both routes and gives two contrasting but pretty solid E3 6a pitches - it also avoids the often wet initial corner of India. I also thought both pitches were harder than Mother’s Pride at E4 5c but maybe that’s because I’m better on steep stuff!
I really like Elgol but not sure the routes really compare to some of the other stuff mentioned above.
For something that hasn’t been mentioned already, a route on the second geo at Sheigra must be a contender. I’ve only done Exorcist on the main wall but that’s up there in terms of quality of climbing, exposure and situation.
> I really like Elgol but not sure the routes really compare to some of the other stuff mentioned above.
Yeah, I agree. Lovely spot, cool rock and great positions, but feels relatively minor compared to the big columnar pitches in the north of Skye, never mind the best stuff in the mountains.
> Cuillin Ridge
Not really a 'climb' though in the way most routes are, it's a long ridge walk/scramble with a bunch of climbing along the way. Obviously the best mountaineering route in Britain, but not really comparable to anything else.
I was involved in the development of Suidhe Biorach, and followed Neil up India on a top rope after he had done the first ascent (I did the first ascent of Splendor Veritas that day).
I think India is the line of the crag. It has two varied pitches, the top jamming crack is in a wild position, and the scenery is magnificent.
Mother's Pride is another great route, and the leaning headwall is outrageous. Dom was really fired up for that one! But the climbing isn't as varied. That's why I prefer India.
Fair enough, I really should make it happen next time I'm there.
> For something that hasn’t been mentioned already, a route on the second geo at Sheigra must be a contender. I’ve only done Exorcist on the main wall but that’s up there in terms of quality of climbing, exposure and situation.
I've done almost all the routes in the Second Geo. Obviously they are all great on that rock and in that situation, but if I had to pick one I think it would be The Cuckoo Conundrum (E3 5c) which takes in the best bits of the best three E2's on the wall, Geriatrics (E2 5b), Wanderings (E2 5b), andBloodlust Direct (E2 5b). A truly indulgent experience which, although a hybrid, actually feels very logical in the climbing and probably worth E3 because of the need to keep a bit in reserve for the steep crux of Bloodlust Direct after forty odd metres of sustained climbing. Definitely one of the best single pitches I've done in Scotland.
Not my answer.. but a suggestion for the best series of pitches up the Bastion is to start up Steeple, climb the middle of Spire and finish up Haystack.. It takes a different combination but I can imagine Guy and Pete might consider Stone Temple Pilots one of their best winter routes.
I can imagine this being pretty good. We did Steeple till the last belay and then did two 60m abbs to go back up Haystack for a mega day of climbing. The two main pitches of the spire look great.
I haven't seen Plague of Blazes mentioned yet. I rate it as the finest single pitch route I've ever done.
For easier, classic mountain routes, Eagle Ridge and The Cioch Nose are worthy of mention.
Cool. Spire is great yeah.
Surely something on Beinn Eighe? I've only done Angel Face (E2 5c) but rate it as one of the best of the grade I've done. Countless good winter routes there as well. Other contenders that I've done:
Shibboleth (E2 5c) of course (probably still my favourite).
Grey Panther (E1 5b) for single pitch E1, can't really beat it.
Call of the Sea (E3 5c) (or anything on Dun Mingulay for that matter).
Vulcan Wall (HVS 5a) for HVS.
Unicorn (Summer) (E1 5a) - still one of the most inspiring lines in the mountains for me, was my first 'proper' E1 so lives on strong in my memory.
Pretty sure I climbed India in 1 pitch if that sways things for your next visit.
> Pretty sure I climbed India in 1 pitch if that sways things for your next visit.
No problem to Andy I'm sure, but I wouldn't fancy that. You'd need pretty long slings or to run it out a lot to stop rope drag round the roofs.
Old Man of Hoy, because it;s there!
> Old Man of Hoy, because it;s there!
It ticks a lot of boxes
However the climbing on it is shit. Massively overrated. 1 star route. Objectively that's based on a great feature with awful climbing.
For E1 its nothing like as good as the Needle, Grooving High, Dubh Loch Monster.....
> However the climbing on it is shit. Massively overrated. 1 star route.
Yes, if some one started a "most overrated route in the UK" thread, it would be the obvious choice.
I've climbed it three times, as well as the south face, if I get a chance I'd climb it another 3 times. I wish all 1 star routes could be this good ;-). 1 crap pitch, 1 Ok pitch, 1 good pitch, 1 superb pitch, 1 brilliant abseil. Stonking line and climbs the best feature on the UK coastline at a reasonable grade. But in terms of best routes yes The Needle is better.
You prove my point beautifully.
It depends if you just take quality of rock/climbing into account or all the other factors as well, because it beats most other top E1s on those counts.
On basis of the above, *** seems fair, but not ****
> Iwish all 1 star routes could be this good
I thought it was superb, the whole experience of getting there and being there, bonfire on the beach at Rackwick Bay bothy and then arriving on top watching waves break below us without hearing them. Afterwards, we went on to Stoer. Two of the four of us are now dead before their time. It will always be a highlight of my life regardless of any debate about quality or lack of.
Your description really chimed with me. It's the way I can't help but think about the "quality" of routes - it's inextricably linked with the quality of life experience wrapped around an ascent. I too have climbed the old man, with now departed friends...
I've a hunch that particular routes are more likely to lead to that kind of deep experience, and the old man being just that kind of route.
In reply to Robert Durran:
Ha ha fair point Robert, I'm rarely accused of under selling experiences I've enjoyed. I think I'm just generous of nature. For me climbing is a deeply positive act, I set out to have a great day. So I'm calibrated at 3 or 4 stars as soon as I start the walk in. I've had plenty of 1 or even no star experiences but those have usually involved failing to even get on a route. If I get at least a pitch in we're quickly heading towards two stars... ;-)
> I thought it was superb, the whole experience...……..
My experience of it:
Having just had several days climbing quality pitch after quality pitch at Yesnaby we were disappointed how poor the first pitch was and wondered whether it was worth persevering. Towards the top of the second pitch I was so disgusted by the awkward sandiness that I pulled on the gear just to get it over with. We then met our friends who had started earlier and considered abbing off with them but decided having come this far we might as well finish it. After another pitch or two of foul ledge shuffling, the last pitch was nice, but hardly worth the strain. I hate abbing at the best of times.
If I were to be generous, I'd grudgingly give it one star for the last pitch and one for the summit tick.
The next day we climbed the superb Roaring Forties (E3 5c) - now that was proper quality, right up there for its grade, holding its own with the best of Dun Mingulay.
I thought the E1's on The Old Man of Stoer, Diamond Face Route (E1 5b), and on Am Buachaille, Atlantic Wall (E1 5b), far superior in every way. Ok, The Old Man of Hoy is bigger, but that is all it has over them and it even lacks a swim, so barely counts as a proper sea stack outing anyway. I thought Atlantic Wall was particularly fine, maybe making my list of top ten Scottish E1's.
> I thought the E1's on The Old Man of Stoer, Diamond Face Route (E1 5b), and on Am Buachaille, Atlantic Wall (E1 5b), far superior in every way. Ok, The Old Man of Hoy is bigger, but that is all it has over them
Original Route (Old Man of Hoy) has a great line also, the second pitch going straight through otherwise impregnable ground. Diamond Face doesn't have that (it's just a direct on the VS), even if the climbing is undeniably miles better.
My feelings about climbing are/were very like yours seem to be Ian. I'm just glad to be out and about anywhere. When I was climbing I used to hate being with people who seemed to find places crap - because they weren't as 'good' as somewhere else. If you compare Stanage, say, to Cadshaw then Cadshaw by any measure is deemed crap. If you compare Attermire to Malham then likewise Attermire is crap. If you compare Gogarth to Jack Scout then Jack Scout is a complete turd pile. Why have I wasted hour after hour climbing at places like Cadshaw, Attermire and Jack Scout when I knew all along they were complete rubbish? After all, I have climbed at Malham, Gogarth and Stanage and lots of times too. What on earth was I thinking? And do you know what? I actually really enjoyed climbing at the 'crap' places because I don't compare one place to another I just have a great time at a place on its own terms. Robert, it must be awful for you. Having climbed in so many fantastic places and photographed in such wonderful locations - does everywhere seem 'crap' by comparison? Can't you just accept a place for what it is on its own terms. Of course Hoy doesn't have a swim - Stoer does and I knew this before arriving at both places. But I enjoyed both for their own virtues. In terms of impact and memories Hoy would rank higher but that doesn't mean Stoer is any less 'good'.
If you're going to complain about sandiness, Roaring Forties isn't wholly lacking in it. And if you hate abseiling, what did you go off to get to the bottom of that one??
I think you're overstating for effect. Sure the Old Man original route mostly isn't great in terms of pure climbing, but it's a strong line up an incredible feature in an stunning place.
It would appear that you enjoy more than most rubbishing the value of other people's experiences, have you considered why that might be? Or do you just consider it worth your time to put the record straight on the seminal matter of rock climb quality? ;)
On a related note, anyone done GMB (E5 6a)? I've heard that's very good.
Totally agree, some routes are strongly remembered because of who you climbed them with. That puts any route into a new dimension of deep seated memories and takes it away from just another 'tick'!!
> Robert, it must be awful for you. Having climbed in so many fantastic places and photographed in such wonderful locations - does everywhere seem 'crap' by comparison?
No, it is not awful for me at all. I absolutely love going climbing. But I suppose I've got to a stage where I'd sometimes rather go walking or photographing rather than choose to go climbing just because I'm a climber - yes, I maybe have become a bit more choosy, but I don't see why that is a problem; in fact I would say it just means I spend my time more rewardingly than I perhaps used to.
Having said that, I am still perfectly capable of enjoying a day or evening at a "crap" crag with good friends.
> Can't you just accept a place for what it is on its own terms. Of course Hoy doesn't have a swim - Stoer does and I knew this before arriving at both places. But I enjoyed both for their own virtues. In terms of impact and memories Hoy would rank higher but that doesn't mean Stoer is any less 'good'.
I'm glad you enjoyed Hoy and that it was such a memorable experience for you. But for me it was honestly very disappointing and I had far better days on the other stacks. Can't you accept that?
> If you're going to complain about sandiness, Roaring Forties isn't wholly lacking in it.
True, but I didn't feel it detracted significantly for me from the overall experience like it did on the Old Man.
> And if you hate abseiling, what did you go off to get to the bottom of that one??
The cairn (shock, horror) backed up by a couple of small cams a little over the edge! I see abseiling as a necessary part of some climbing, but I'm just very aware of the cumulative risk over many years to enjoy it for its own sake.
> It would appear that you enjoy more than most rubbishing the value of other people's experiences, have you considered why that might be?
I'm not rubbishing anyone else's experience; I'm just saying my experience of the route was very different. And I suppose, as for the way company enhances a climbing experience (I'm in absolute agreement here), on this occasion we both felt the same about the route - it was actually quite funny exchanging banter during and after the climb about how dire we found it!
> I absolutely love going climbing. But I suppose I've got to a stage where I'd sometimes rather go walking or photographing rather than choose to go climbing just because I'm a climber -
I don't think we should pile on Rob, my own comments were largely in jest, but I do think it's interesting how different climbers rate a route as good. None of us are really objective or impartial, and rightly so as climbing is a very personal and emotional pursuit.
Interesting re: your comment above I went through a period when I was going on a lot of expeditions to fancy places, and coming back to the UK I struggled to arsed with local cragging (then Bristol); even Avon Gorge seemed a bit tiddly. Now with a busy life of kids and jobs and homework I take my climbing opportunities a lot less for granted, and am often surprised how much enjoyment I get from "minor' routes at previously dismissed 'average' venues. At the moment for example I think any of us would jump at the chance to get on any bit of rock, however crap.
> ......often surprised how much enjoyment I get from "minor' routes at previously dismissed 'average' venues. At the moment for example I think any of us would jump at the chance to get on any bit of rock, however crap.
Well I've only been on British rock once this year, an evening a few days before this lockdown at a local crag with old climbing friends doing a few routes we'd done tens of times before. It was utterly brilliant - in many ways right up there as a climbing experience.
> I'm glad you enjoyed Hoy and that it was such a memorable experience for you. But for me it was honestly very disappointing and I had far better days on the other stacks. Can't you accept that?
One problem here though, Robert - and it's not you in particular but all who seem to want to fill the logbooks and threads with how awful a particular climb is. It may be your personal opinion that one route is 'crap' and another is fantastic. But that is all it is - your opinion. I can accept you feel that way but not that your opinion is fact. The fact is that Hoy is a majestic marvel of nature of itself and you just did not enjoy it for your own personal reasons.
Now, one unfortunate consequence of all this online 'dissing' of routes and crags is that the less committed read all this and think 'Hmmm, there are a few negative comments here, I think I better go with the herd and stay at Stanage'. This means even less folks take a punt on a route/crag and fairly soon a major excavation job might be needed to get it back into condition. Perhaps, you ought to reconsider, when knocking routes, the possibility that when you didn't enjoy it it was because of your own limitations, mental state or any other personal situation at the time. I have climbed 3 star classics and hated them but I'd never dismiss them or play them down. They are 3 star classics, the problem lay within me.
To be fair, Avon is usually a bit of an emotional experience...
If you enjoyed Roaring Forties, you should consider A Few Dollars More (E3 5c) Two star climbing and a four star experience.
I've only abseiled down the East Face route but I can see what you mean. I'd love to go back when this is all over, Ideally I'd do GMB first, it looks stunning, and leave the original for when I am a really old man. It would be good to team up with someone who has access to a drill: the current abseil bolts (The Old Man's dirty secret!) need replacing with modern stainless or titanium glue-ins. Like for like of course. Anyone up for it?
I remember a bolt at the ab point below the top, maybe wasn't looking hard enough for others. I don't mind the condition of most ab points, but the top is really shocking and it would good that it got sorted out. (Someone would need to take a rucksack to hold all that ab...). I also recall a block poised over P5 Original Route that looks like it'll go some day.
> One problem here though, Robert - and it's not you in particular but all who seem to want to fill the logbooks and threads with how awful a particular climb is.
Well I don't use the logbooks at all and I rarely knock routes on threads such as this - as in this thread, I far more often say how good they are. I actually have to have a pretty good reason (as in the case of The Old Man of Hoy) to say that I think a route is a bit rubbish or overrated.
> It may be your personal opinion that one route is 'crap' and another is fantastic. But that is all it is - your opinion. I can accept you feel that way but not that your opinion is fact. The fact is that Hoy is a majestic marvel of nature of itself and you just did not enjoy it for your own personal reasons.
No, I honestly think that, by the generally accepted norms of what constitutes good actual climbing (moves/pitches, rock quality), The Old Man of Hoy is at best very mediocre (as I said earlier, maybe worth 1 star). If you feel that the fact that it is a big pointy iconic thing outweighs that to make it worth 3 or 4 stars, then you are certainly entitled to that opinion, as I am entitled to mine that 2 stars might be fair.
> Now, one unfortunate consequence of all this online 'dissing' of routes and crags is that the less committed read all this and think 'Hmmm, there are a few negative comments here, I think I better go with the herd and stay at Stanage'. This means even less folks take a punt on a route/crag and fairly soon a major excavation job might be needed to get it back into condition.
Oh come on. I'd like to think you are joking. If you really think I am going to take that sort of thing into account when discussing the merits or otherwise of routes on Scottish Islands, then forget it. Anyway, as I said, I've talked up lots more routes here than down.
> Perhaps you ought to reconsider, when knocking routes, the possibility that when you didn't enjoy it it was because of your own limitations, mental state or any other personal situation at the time.
I really think you need to lighten up a bit. Threads like this are, in the end a bit of fun, especially at a time like this; an excuse to talk about climbs and climbing. Anyway, my day on the Old Man of Hoy wasn't a complete waste of time. It was still a fun day out and we had a laugh - albeit mostly shared laughter at just how disappointingly shit it all was!
> I really think you need to lighten up a bit.
I agree with you here - it is just a bit of fun. But in that spirit, I think that it's worth considering the effect comments from someone as experienced as yourself might have on the less experienced.
Rightly or wrongly, people identify with routes they have had a special experience on (witness half the content of this forum right now). Does having an elder of the community tell them they are in fact shit change anything for the better?
Feel like I've done this thread many times over the years but always worth a revisit - for me routes like Torro, Sumo, Haystack, Steeple, Shibboleth (with direct finish), Angel Face, Freak Out will always win as big varied routes in impressive mountain surroundings. Saying that single pitches like Edgehog are also pretty memorable! Old man of Hoy to me was disappointing as I couldn't believe how sandy the crux pitch was. Last pitch is good but rest is pretty average and one star, but three stars for line, positions and history etc, maybe two stars is a compromise? I had a terrifying abseil (aged 19 and foolish) as was left hanging in space with no knots in rope and no idea about tricks like wrapping the rope around your leg. I stopped 2m short of ends and somehow managed to lasso the in situ rope with two hexes tied together - still have sweaty hands thinking about it now!! Agree that Old man of Stoer has far nicer rock and routes on it but Orkney is an amazing place and the Old Man of Hoy begs to be climbed despite the choss. We loved Long Hard Winter for much better rock with wild crashing waves below....
With Scotland now in Phase 1 of the journey out of lockdown, the presumption against climbing and hillwalking that most people have adhered to for the last two months is finally relaxing. So what next...?