Mike was away on a family holiday to the far North West last week, taking advantage of the brilliant weather on the west coast. We stayed at a cottage next to Achmelvich near Lochinver, surrounded by sandstone giants such as Suilven, Canisp and Quinag. It's also on the road to Stoer and a climb of the classic route on the Old Man of Stoer was quite high on the list of things to do while on holiday. Being such a remote and wild place you can't help but take things a bit more slowly here. There's lots of breathing space and lots of time for quiet contemplation but there's also wild adventures to have as well.
We chose a day with a low tide at 11am so we could be there an hour before. The stack is accessed by tyrolean traverse (or boulder hopping on a spring low tide) and we were lucky to find three ropes in place already. It's hard to assess how good the ropes and their anchors are and I don't think they are always in place. It worked well for us though and we managed to traverse round the right side of the stack to avoid the traverse pitch at the start of the classic route (well worth avoiding if you can!).
The rest of the climb is classic sandstone climbing, steep with big flat breaks and huge rough holds every now and then. It's an intimidating climb, not just due to it's position on the stack but also because of the tricky protection (take lots of cams) and the not so obvious route finding. We made it to the top securely though and enjoyed a moment in the sunshine before abseiling down.
This was a proper father and son adventure; boys out having fun and sharing an experience that will last with both of us for a lifetime. For Owen, at the age of 12, it's this kind of experience that might guide what he values for the rest of his life. The evidence shows that if we give children high quality experiences in nature they will always appreciate and participate in outdoor adventure. Experiences in the wild outdoors don't get much higher quality than this so I think Owen will be hooked for life! All of our Family Adventures are tried and tested on our children so you can enjoy the best of them with your family!
Self reliance is a fundamental principle of mountaineering. By participating we accept this and take responsibility for the decisions we make. These blog posts and conditions reports are intended to help you make good decisions. They do not remove the need for you to make your own judgements when out in the hills.