Stacked Up in Scotland: Yeansby Castle

The South Face route o Yeansby Castle

When I left you last I was celebrating the team ascent of the old man of hoy. That celebration went on until the early hours of the following morning. Outside the Ratwick bothy next to a fire burning dried kelp. The following day was a write off, as we were all well and truly hungover.

I enjoyed my time at the bothy, as there are very few places in the world that I can say that I can sit around and do nothing for a day, but thats what I did. Enjoying the sea air and beauty of the place. The following day we got up early and headed back to Orkney with the plan to head back to the mainland, only to find out that the first ferry back wasn’t until 4.30pm. With a little over 5 hours to spare a plot was hatched to go to Yeansby and see if we could climb this.

We hit the ground nearly running, as the day was going to have us abseil in, swim, tyrolean, climb, abseil, tyrolean back and climb out. All in five hours, tick followed tock followed tick followed tock. Time was no longer with us again.

Huw sat this one out, as we arrived a mad flurry of activity followed as we rigged the abseil in and headed down into the unknown. A breif look at the topo on huws phone was all I had in my mind, as I head down. Llion had decided to take one for the team, and do the swim across, it didn’t look warm, so I arranged so very high runner to get us over the low tide.

Llion Swims out to Yeansby Castle Sea Stack

On the Island I started up the stack, and quickly got off route and pumped, before making the move back right onto the actual line. Tired arms weren’t performing as they should the flash pump putting pay to that, but there was no time to waste, so I carried on up past janky gear and two of the worst pegs I have seen for a long time.

The slopey breaks were getting harder and harder to hold, and then I was face with a small traverse back to good holds that lead to the top. ‘Don’t hestitate Mark’, ‘Just Go for it’, ‘Those holds are massive’ was what my mind was telling me, and for once I listened as I groaned my way across to them, feet covered in sand making the footholds worse. By the top the rope drag was immense but we were there.¬†As I brought the other two up, it looked like we were going to make the ferry.

Abseiling off I had made an initial assessment of the anchor, but as I looked over the edge, I pulled back up and ask Llion to check again for me. ‘Its good’, I told him that he’d appreciate why I ask when he was stood by me, as the rope hung down in space, so all my weight would come onto this lonely spike.

Back at the base Llion and Katie reverse the tyrolean, Llion had gotten wet as the sea had risen with teh incoming tide, and as I removed some of the gear, and tied everything into one wire and the worse rope in the world. I took a deep breadth as I leant back on to the tyrolean. No sooner was my weight on it and pop, the wire went, and I was in the cold sea. As I pulled myself across up to the waste in water, I got out and started to shiver.

Now it was Llion’s turn to get us out before I froze. Up he went and within minutes came the words I wanted to hear. ‘Safe’, ‘On Belay’. At the top I stripped naked, warning the passerby to look away if they don’t want to be offended. Llion lent me his thermals, as I enter the world of the warm again.

It was then back to the ferry, and homeward bound. We stopped in Aveimore overnight, and then headed down through the rain. It had been pleasant on Orkney and Hoy, a testiment to its latitude, as it quite often misses the weather, as it is too far north.

A great few days, with a few great people and we climbed a couple of the best adventure routes in the UK if not the world. Hoy reminded me of being back in the desert a couple of years back and climbing the towers there. But is was better, more adventurous, and of course a Sea Stack!

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