UKH

130m, 5 pitches. The original line up the stack. Takes the landward face and is essentially a crack climb therefore large cams and hexentrics are useful as are 60m ropes for the descent.

Rustie Baillie, Christian Bonington and Dr Tom Patey 18/Jul/1966.

Ticklists

Top 25 UKC Wishlist Rock Climbs , Victim Of Mathematics' Ticklist of Extreme Justice , Hard Rock , Ultimate Scottish Rock , Scottish 3 and 4 star multi-pitch routes , MIA logbook must haves! , CLIMB Mag's Top 100 routes in Britain , Summer Trip 2014 , Ultimate E1 ticklist , The BMC 70th Anniversary Ticklist , Trad on every UK island , Caff's Cool E1s List , The best the UK has to offer for mere mortals (apart from the lakes cos its always wet) , Crack apprenticeship - Highland North , High Quality Adventure routes , Big Routes , Ultimate Sea Stack , Pre-MIA Wishlist , EUMC - Must do climbs , Big Ideas , Hard Rock 2020 , The E1 UK Roadtrip , Hard Rock 2020 , STAUMC Ticklist , Scottish Climbing Best 10 E1 list? , Scottish Multipitch Seacliffs (S - E2) , The Big Three , Hard Rock & Other Classics , The Great Sea Cliffs of Scotland , Summer 2021 , Ultimate Scottish Trad Ticklist E1 to E5 , Scottish Four Star Multi Pitch Routes to E2 (and Old Man Of Hoy) , Scottish Hard Rock 2020 , Dream Challenge (The BIG ONE) , Carrotte's summer sends (multi pitch edition)

Feedback

User Date Notes
art.gertner 13 Sep Show βeta
βeta: It is worth splitting pitch 2 into two. traverse and belay under the offwidth (a.k.a coffin). There is a very good stance and plenty of placements to build a bomber anchor. This saves the rope drag and allows the belayer to have a good view of their climber on the crux moves
Show beta
βeta: It is worth splitting pitch 2 into two. traverse and belay under the offwidth (a.k.a coffin). There is a very good stance and plenty of placements to build a bomber anchor. This saves the rope drag and allows the belayer to have a good view of their climber on the crux moves
ircelapillship 26 May Show βeta
βeta: **Beta is written at the very end - nothing to do with the climbing / moves itself, more tips on gear and getting there**

 A true adventure, yes. The remoteness, the excitement of seeing it from the ferry, the fairly sketchy approach, the enormous towering appearance of the stack as you stand at it’s base, the overgrown and very much inhabited nature. All provide a very exciting experience.

However, from the viewpoint of the climbing itself it’s absolutely awful. Traumatic even! Crumbling holds under hand and foot, sand raining down into your eyes during the crux if you try and place anything above head height, uncertainty about how well gear would hold on this rock type, difficult rope management (especially for the crux pitch trying to avoid drag around that first roof as you get started), getting vomited on by birds and the worst part (for me at least) was the constant anxiety at every ledge you move up to as you cautiously peer over the edge praying that you’re not face to face with a Fulmar that might projectile some rotten fish in your face and startle you to the point that you fall and take a whip on to the aforementioned gear.

The day started off badly as we’d taken the word as gospel of someone who grew up on Hoy when we were told it was a 1hr walk from the ferry to the Old Man - it was 2h40 (Lesson learnt as we should 100% of done our due diligence and checked for ourselves). Because of a bad day prior where one of our party was injured in a fall there was a lot of anxiety about who wanted to climb / lead, so there was a fair bit of faffing before we got started which chipped away at the clock. Slow progress on all the pitches because of drag and the bird vomit anxiety I previously mentioned. All in all we get to the base of the final pitch and had to turn back to avoid missing the final ferry back to mainland. We then had 45 minutes to run the ~3mile back to the hostel to meet the taxi with all our gear (after having just climbed back up the initial ascent which already left us pretty wrecked. I did see a puffin nested about 15m from where we managed to get to which was cool. Shame we didn’t get any close, but c’est la vie. I bloody love puffins! 
SUMMARY: Mistakes were made,
The route is cool The climbing itself is gross Fulmars can f*** off - seriously! MY THOUGHTS ON BETA: If you’re not planning an overnight stay on Hoy, definitely get a taxi from the ferry in the morning - then if you have time / the inclination to hike back, great. It’s a pretty nice hike with a great little bend in the river for a dip.

I wonder whether some carabiners with rollers might be a good shout to direct the ropes down to the ledge at the traverse before turning back up in to the crux of P2. Might save a lot of drag. Walkie talkies!
Show beta
βeta: **Beta is written at the very end - nothing to do with the climbing / moves itself, more tips on gear and getting there**

 A true adventure, yes. The remoteness, the excitement of seeing it from the ferry, the fairly sketchy approach, the enormous towering appearance of the stack as you stand at it’s base, the overgrown and very much inhabited nature. All provide a very exciting experience.

However, from the viewpoint of the climbing itself it’s absolutely awful. Traumatic even! Crumbling holds under hand and foot, sand raining down into your eyes during the crux if you try and place anything above head height, uncertainty about how well gear would hold on this rock type, difficult rope management (especially for the crux pitch trying to avoid drag around that first roof as you get started), getting vomited on by birds and the worst part (for me at least) was the constant anxiety at every ledge you move up to as you cautiously peer over the edge praying that you’re not face to face with a Fulmar that might projectile some rotten fish in your face and startle you to the point that you fall and take a whip on to the aforementioned gear.

The day started off badly as we’d taken the word as gospel of someone who grew up on Hoy when we were told it was a 1hr walk from the ferry to the Old Man - it was 2h40 (Lesson learnt as we should 100% of done our due diligence and checked for ourselves). Because of a bad day prior where one of our party was injured in a fall there was a lot of anxiety about who wanted to climb / lead, so there was a fair bit of faffing before we got started which chipped away at the clock. Slow progress on all the pitches because of drag and the bird vomit anxiety I previously mentioned. All in all we get to the base of the final pitch and had to turn back to avoid missing the final ferry back to mainland. We then had 45 minutes to run the ~3mile back to the hostel to meet the taxi with all our gear (after having just climbed back up the initial ascent which already left us pretty wrecked. I did see a puffin nested about 15m from where we managed to get to which was cool. Shame we didn’t get any close, but c’est la vie. I bloody love puffins! 
SUMMARY: Mistakes were made,
The route is cool The climbing itself is gross Fulmars can f*** off - seriously! MY THOUGHTS ON BETA: If you’re not planning an overnight stay on Hoy, definitely get a taxi from the ferry in the morning - then if you have time / the inclination to hike back, great. It’s a pretty nice hike with a great little bend in the river for a dip.

I wonder whether some carabiners with rollers might be a good shout to direct the ropes down to the ledge at the traverse before turning back up in to the crux of P2. Might save a lot of drag. Walkie talkies!
Hobogreg 22 May Show βeta
βeta: Ethics: how are bolts shunned but the most massive ratty ass mank tat is ok? Surely a couple titanium glue ins at each belay is less an eyesore than an entire freaking climbing rope connected to sixteen rusted pitons and a wooden block? I lack the skills to do it but would happily contribute 20 pounds to someone who does.
βeta?
Show beta
βeta: Ethics: how are bolts shunned but the most massive ratty ass mank tat is ok? Surely a couple titanium glue ins at each belay is less an eyesore than an entire freaking climbing rope connected to sixteen rusted pitons and a wooden block? I lack the skills to do it but would happily contribute 20 pounds to someone who does.
scottie390 8 Jul, 2021 Show βeta
βeta: Some size 6 dmm dragon cam definitely be helpful for after second Overhang (I didn't have any), about 4m below belay, good nuts out left of pitch, 3rd n 4th pitch are shit covered, fulmar infested ledges and generally unpleasant. Last pitch is VS 4c and beautiful. Good recent lsk with rope protector and insitu crab for abseil. Got off in 3,abseiled from top to the anchor 8m above the one for the start of the third (new ish blue tat), from there to the top of the second pitch, try and keep as far right (looking down) of as close to the left whilst abseiling to reach the chimney directly above the top of p2, if you miss this as it's not very obvious, like I did, keep your eyes peeled and step left round the arete to the top of p2 belay. From the top of p2 an abseil on double 60's will get you down, if its windy don't toss the ropes as there's potential for them to get stuck at the top of p1. Thuggish brutal Chimney tactics and dusting off sand experience will pay off big time.
Show beta
βeta: Some size 6 dmm dragon cam definitely be helpful for after second Overhang (I didn't have any), about 4m below belay, good nuts out left of pitch, 3rd n 4th pitch are shit covered, fulmar infested ledges and generally unpleasant. Last pitch is VS 4c and beautiful. Good recent lsk with rope protector and insitu crab for abseil. Got off in 3,abseiled from top to the anchor 8m above the one for the start of the third (new ish blue tat), from there to the top of the second pitch, try and keep as far right (looking down) of as close to the left whilst abseiling to reach the chimney directly above the top of p2, if you miss this as it's not very obvious, like I did, keep your eyes peeled and step left round the arete to the top of p2 belay. From the top of p2 an abseil on double 60's will get you down, if its windy don't toss the ropes as there's potential for them to get stuck at the top of p1. Thuggish brutal Chimney tactics and dusting off sand experience will pay off big time.
Adamcsyou 26 Sep, 2020 Show βeta
βeta: The people complaining that this isn't a classic must have a very narrow view of what makes a good route. This is an amazing adventure climb, the whole experience first seeing the old man on the ferry and then on the approach, carefully getting down the cliff (hiking pole very useful) and then of course the amazing stack itself. First pitch was grand, really just VD with a tiny bit of loose rock. Second pitch was definitely quite sandy but the rock was solid and the climbing really interesting - mostly just VS but the crux through the second overhang did feel like E1 5b. Crux is really nice to protect and a good safe move that you can take your time on. There's a stuck cam but I wouldn't trust it to hold a big fall, backed up with my own #3. Big cams (I had a single #3.5 and 4) are definitely handy for the 15m of climbing after the crux or you'll be very run out. 3rd and 4th pitch were fine but nothing special, very green but not wet after one day of no rain. 3rd was VD and 4th no more than S. Final crack was excellent as everyone says, nice secure moves up a crack on lovely clean rock with good protection, and an absolutely incredible top out! Try find the logbook on the top Abseil tat was hit and miss, lots of options but a good idea to at least bring a spare biner or two. The main gate on top of the 3rd or 4th pitch definitely didn't seem safe. Descended the whole thing with a single 60m rope, having left our 40m rope in place on the second pitch - amazing hanging abseil!! In summary, if you're wondering whether you should take a run at the old man, I'd say it's more important to have experience with multi pitch logistics, route finding and knowing whats safe and what's not. Technically, if you've climbed E1 at all before you can probably handle this one. Brilliant experience
Show beta
βeta: The people complaining that this isn't a classic must have a very narrow view of what makes a good route. This is an amazing adventure climb, the whole experience first seeing the old man on the ferry and then on the approach, carefully getting down the cliff (hiking pole very useful) and then of course the amazing stack itself. First pitch was grand, really just VD with a tiny bit of loose rock. Second pitch was definitely quite sandy but the rock was solid and the climbing really interesting - mostly just VS but the crux through the second overhang did feel like E1 5b. Crux is really nice to protect and a good safe move that you can take your time on. There's a stuck cam but I wouldn't trust it to hold a big fall, backed up with my own #3. Big cams (I had a single #3.5 and 4) are definitely handy for the 15m of climbing after the crux or you'll be very run out. 3rd and 4th pitch were fine but nothing special, very green but not wet after one day of no rain. 3rd was VD and 4th no more than S. Final crack was excellent as everyone says, nice secure moves up a crack on lovely clean rock with good protection, and an absolutely incredible top out! Try find the logbook on the top Abseil tat was hit and miss, lots of options but a good idea to at least bring a spare biner or two. The main gate on top of the 3rd or 4th pitch definitely didn't seem safe. Descended the whole thing with a single 60m rope, having left our 40m rope in place on the second pitch - amazing hanging abseil!! In summary, if you're wondering whether you should take a run at the old man, I'd say it's more important to have experience with multi pitch logistics, route finding and knowing whats safe and what's not. Technically, if you've climbed E1 at all before you can probably handle this one. Brilliant experience
jennyb 26 Sep, 2020 Show βeta
βeta: Would recommend a walking pole to get down to the base of the climb!
Show beta
βeta: Would recommend a walking pole to get down to the base of the climb!
SOUTHERN GRAY 22 Aug, 2020 Show βeta
βeta: Awesome route. 6hrs inc abseil.
βeta?
Show beta
βeta: Awesome route. 6hrs inc abseil.
j.anstee 21 Sep, 2019 Show βeta
βeta: Ab Stn at the top has been tidied up and reinforced with good static rope and a rope protector. Makes for a good line of descent. Good job that man...
βeta?
Show beta
βeta: Ab Stn at the top has been tidied up and reinforced with good static rope and a rope protector. Makes for a good line of descent. Good job that man...
Matthew Davies 29 Jul, 2019 Show βeta
βeta: Cleaned some old tat from the top, still a lot left. Most of the tat in place for the decent is in reasonable condition.
βeta?
Show beta
βeta: Cleaned some old tat from the top, still a lot left. Most of the tat in place for the decent is in reasonable condition.

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Guidebooks for (Old Man of) Hoy

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Voting
High E2
Mid E2
Low E2
High E1
Mid E1
Low E1
High HVS
Mid HVS
Low HVS
Votes cast 115
High 5c
Mid 5c
Low 5c
High 5b
Mid 5b
Low 5b
High 5a
Mid 5a
Low 5a
Votes cast 51
Votes cast 109
Style of Ascent
Alt Leads
Lead
Followed
Soloed
Not Set
Onsighted
Repeated
Dogged
Flashed (β)
DNF
Ground Up
Redpoint
Not Set
Route of Interest
Blue Crush

Grade: E1 5b ***
(Yesnaby)

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