Stac Lee, St Kilda
by 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: 172m9 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).
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.
by FMCKIE » Fri Mar 26, 2010 3:25 pm
by assynt_bob » Sat Mar 27, 2010 1:25 am
Is there any chance of getting an email copy of the .wmv files?
Any more tips for ascending the stacks?
by petejkenny » Sat Mar 27, 2010 2:48 pm
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.
by Paul Webster » Sun Mar 28, 2010 12:33 pm
by petejkenny » Sat Apr 03, 2010 9:01 pm
by kildacruises » Fri Apr 09, 2010 12:46 am
- Posts: 1
- Joined: Apr 9, 2010