walkhighlands

Share your personal walking route experiences in Scotland, and comment on other peoples' reports.
Warning Please note that hillwalking when there is snow lying requires an ice-axe, crampons and the knowledge, experience and skill to use them correctly. Summer routes may not be viable or appropriate in winter. See winter information on our skills and safety pages for more information.

Stac Lee, St Kilda

Stac Lee, St Kilda


Postby petejkenny » Thu Mar 25, 2010 9:21 pm

Sub 2000' hills included on this walk: Stac Lee

Date walked: 21/05/1990

Time taken: 2 hours

Distance: 1 km

Ascent: 172m

9 people think this report is great.
Register or Login
free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).

First let me state that I have not climbed Stac Lee! This post is about an ascent in May 1990 by Andy Elwell, Jonathon Warren and Steve Holloway, the then NTS warden. This is nearly 20 years ago - there may have been no ascents since!
Firstly here is some fragments of an account of the climb by Jonathon Warren:
Ascent of Stac Lee 21st May 1990 by Jon Warren, Andrew Elwell and Steve Holloway, the Warden
Written by Jon Warren

Arriving at the great rock, the walls were indeed vertical with hanging forests of oarweed (kelp) clinging horizontally for three meters above my head. Amazingly, there was a convenient ledge just above the surface of the water, which made jumping onto the rock easier. The kelp gave way to a layer of barnacles and dark green algae, which thankfully was tinder dry. In 6m (20ft) we were on a good ledge.
Streaked white with chemical deposits leached from the rock, the vertical precipice above looked menacing. Six metres above us a wide friendly ledge ran diagonally to the left, to reach this we ascended a near vertical rock wall. Had the rock been wet, this stretch would have been treacherous. At about 37m (120 ft) the ledge zig zagged to the right — we scaled 4m of exposed rock. In another 27m our pathway came to an abrupt end. We had reached the pitch!
The next part of the ascent involved climbing an 11m vertical wall of exposed rock. The gabbro surface was so badly weathered and smoothed that there was virtually nowhere to place gear with any effectiveness in the event of a fall. We reached the top of the famous Pitch and were now at about 60m (200ft). It had taken 20 adrenalin pumping minutes of total concentration.
The sun shone brightly onto the glassy sea, and the air was completely still apart from the whistle of gannets’ wings as they flew past. We were on a 6ft ledge and we knew that round the corner the gannets would increase dramatically. After passing the corner, the ledge led upwards and westwards across the face of the stac, at an angle of about 35 degrees. Ahead, we were confronted by a wall of gannets that seemed to occupy every space available to them.. .we approached a massive overhang. Our route took us underneath this huge projection of rock. Hugging the wall of the overhang on a 3ft wide ledge we came across five guillemots incubating eggs.
Stepping over countless gannet nests we neared the end of the overhang. Before us we could see a wide platform that led to the summit slopes. At the beginning of the platform, tucked into the extreme left- hand edge of the overhang, we found the bothy. It was built by the St Kildans to use as a shelter for an advance party prior to the gannet harvest in case rough weather prevented them landing and therefore losing their whole catch. Unfortunately we could not venture inside as two fulmars were each incubating eggs.
On reaching the top of the bothy platform, the sight before us defied description. Thousands upon thousands of gannets sat tightly on their weed and flotsam built nests, completely swamping the huge summit slopes in a white blanket of birds. To reach the summit we would need to climb another 30m (1OOft) through massed gannet ranks. Understandably we were reluctant to disturb the gannets. To minimise this we decided to walk up the left hand ridge of the stac. The beveled slope led up at an angle of about 45 degrees. As we ascended towards the summit, the broken ground underfoot surprised me, with shattered rock of varying sizes littering the slope. Close to the summit a blizzard of gannets took to the air causing a minor dust-storm which actually blurred our vision. It was truly an amazing experience. The views from the summit were of unbelievable dimensions!

Secondly here are two video clips of their climb - courtesy of my old friend Mhairi Sumner who had the tape safe in her loft! I love these - the views are great and the three climbers are obviously having such a great time. Also watch out for the brief glimpse of the bothy - astounding to think that St Kildan's would actually sometimes stay on the stac.



petejkenny
 
Posts: 36
Munros:282   Corbetts:5
Grahams:1   
Sub 2000:7   Hewitts:9
Wainwrights:16   
Joined: Jan 26, 2009

Re: Stac Lee, St KIlda

Postby FMCKIE » Fri Mar 26, 2010 3:25 pm

Superb footage. I expected it to be harder than one 11m pitch. Albeit protectionless. Heck!
FMCKIE
 
Posts: 126
Sub 2000:6   
Joined: May 14, 2009

Re: Stac Lee, St KIlda

Postby assynt_bob » Sat Mar 27, 2010 1:25 am

Thanks for posting these video clips. These really help the planning of an ascent one day.

Is there any chance of getting an email copy of the .wmv files?

Any more tips for ascending the stacks?

Cheers

Bob
assynt_bob
Mountaineer
 
Posts: 13
Munros:282   Corbetts:1
Sub 2000:13   
Joined: Jan 30, 2010

Re: Stac Lee, St KIlda

Postby petejkenny » Sat Mar 27, 2010 2:48 pm

HI Bob - send me your address via pm and I'll send you a much higher quality DVD which I think will be better for planning your climb - you'll see much more detail. If you're happy with the quality I've posted just send me your email address.

I'm no climber but from this clip it seems the biggest problem, if you are a climber, is just getting on to the stac - the slight swell on these clips is very rare I think, When I was on Boreray on a really calm day i'd guess there was still a 6 feet plus swell around the stacs and so wet rocks, problems with getting close safely etc.

On these clips Andy practically steps on and off the stac. It struck me that a group needs just one person like him who can lead confidently and safely, set up the ropes etc and the rest can kind of bumble along (in a safe way you understand) afterwards.

You'd need a head for heights!

There are reasons why there's so few ascents though - the access is really hard.
petejkenny
 
Posts: 36
Munros:282   Corbetts:5
Grahams:1   
Sub 2000:7   Hewitts:9
Wainwrights:16   
Joined: Jan 26, 2009

Re: Stac Lee, St KIlda

Postby Paul Webster » Sun Mar 28, 2010 12:33 pm

Amazing post Pete - thanks so much 8) I know I won't be climbing all the Marilyns / sub2000's!!
User avatar
Paul Webster
Site Admin
Walker
 
Posts: 5181
Munros:282   Corbetts:222
Grahams:64   Donalds:39
Sub 2000:113   Hewitts:133
Wainwrights:134   
Joined: Jan 6, 2007
Location: Nr Grantown-on-Spey

Re: Stac Lee, St Kilda

Postby petejkenny » Sat Apr 03, 2010 9:01 pm

My pleasure - a few more St Kilda things to come if no one's bored yet!
petejkenny
 
Posts: 36
Munros:282   Corbetts:5
Grahams:1   
Sub 2000:7   Hewitts:9
Wainwrights:16   
Joined: Jan 26, 2009

Re: Stac Lee, St Kilda

Postby kildacruises » Fri Apr 09, 2010 12:46 am

Excellent footage, i have been fishing lobster and crab for 25 years round this stack and laterly doing day trips out to St Kilda and this stack is impressive. Many a day i gazed up and wondered how they got to the top. One bit of advice if you are going to attempt it , take a plastic dingy so it wont burst on the shore. Good luck.

Angus
kildacruises
Ambler
 
Posts: 1
Joined: Apr 9, 2010

Re: Stac Lee, St Kilda

Postby litljortindan » Sun Oct 16, 2016 12:20 pm

Scary but amazing but scary.
User avatar
litljortindan
Walker
 
Posts: 1670
Munros:111   Corbetts:55
Grahams:26   Donalds:1
Sub 2000:47   Hewitts:12
Wainwrights:10   
Joined: Dec 11, 2011

9 people think this report is great.
Register or Login
free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).



Walkhighlands community forum is now advert free

We need help to keep the site online.
Can you help support Walkhighlands and the online community by setting up a monthly donation by direct debit?



Return to Walk reports - Scotland

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: martin.h, mmill, Morecambe Monkey, past my sell by date, pmarsher, simonclee and 73 guests