Scottish sea stacks #1 : iconic Old Man of Hoy

Alpine trips

©Ulysse Lefebvre

Whether you call them Old Men, sea stacks or pinnacles, the towers that dot the Scottish coastline are as dishearteningly beautiful as the wind that sweeps them. Of a fragile balance on a geological scale, they resist all the same to the steps of the handful of climbers who climb them. Three Old Men mark out our summer journey in the north of Scotland: Hoy, Stoer and Storr. In this first episode, it is nothing less than in the footsteps of Chris Bonington and Tom Patey that we will humbly venture, in the heart of the Orkney Islands, for a climb in the purest Scottish style, kilt included, on the orange sandstone of the Old Man of Hoy.

That’s all we do, find good reasons, noble ambitions, vast programs, great objectives. So many pretexts to go explore the vast world. Believe it or not: this time we have no excuse, except for a real obsession for these pieces of rock piled up like a tower of Pisa, somewhere up there, in the north of Scotland. A purely aesthetic attraction for small climbing objectives, of moderate difficulty (especially for the young mountian guide of the team), not even very high (140m maximum) but judiciously distributed in a scottish-pampa, worthy of a Bruce Chatwin’s story, with deserted roads and four seasons per day. A Patagonian tone. 

Looking towards the distance, kilt in the wind: the Old Man of Hoy awaits us. ©Ulysse Lefebvre

Hoy : one island, two atmospheres. ©Ulysse Lefebvre