By the end of May 2008, I had finished my Geography studies at the University of Dundee and right after came a celebration plan; personal farewell to the years spent in the land of the brave. Along with fellow Scots, English climbers as well as my good Irish friend, class and rope mate Andrew Marshall, we embarked on a climbing trip to Mingulay, Outer Hebrides – one of the most remote places of the British Isles.
It was something of an experience – wild setting and climbing, comradeship…- personally culminated with, the first free ascent of Perfect Monsters E7 6b / 150m (groundup, 2nd go); amazing line and by then a longstanding Hebridean project. The weather was stable for an extended period of time – one day of rain out of fifteen – so, we kept bagging lots of classic climbs over the sea, always with an infinite horizon and until the 11.30pm sunsets…Some of this past expedition pictures that I would like to share; a word of motivation for those keen to go and see what’s on!
Our late afternoon arrival to Mingulay. The journey had started by ferry in Oban, west coast Scotland to Castlebay, Barra; from there a boat trip further south on the island chain.
First of an everyday walk from the beach camp on the east side of the island, to the vertical faces of the west.
Sorting gear before doing the repetitive 100 meters (static line rigs) abseils to sea level ledges. Gordon Lennox, Michael Gardner “mike G” and Craig “bubu” Adam (L/R).
Dun Mingulay was first seen by German climbers sailing past the Hebrides but, the first routes were established on a visit by Mick Fowler and Chris Bonnington. The rock is solid Lewisian Gneiss and its color and shapes are beautiful.
Another take from Gordon and Bubu attempting to establish a new route; things went “dead end”…The climbing is adventurous with pumpy pitches on good rock – following lines of cracks, grooves, roofs and horizontal breaks – normally three pitches and no bolts (not even belays). Pure Trad!
Something came to the shore…No wonder as big sea creatures were around; one of the days we sighted a Basking Shark while climbing.
As with many other remote Islands, Mingulay was intermittently inhabited and, completely abandoned by the beginning of the 20th century (1912). Signs of occupancy can still be found – like these wood poles -; hard and isolated living to be imagined. Andy Marshall, Ali Rob, Bubu and Mike Shorter (L/R).
“Mingulay has a large seabird population, and is an important breeding ground for razorbills (9,514 pairs, 6.3% of the European population), guillemots (11,063 pairs) and Black-legged Kittiwakes (2,939 pairs).” – from Wikipedia. The always funny Puffins (Fratercula arctic).
Checking the views and mobile network on the top of the island. No coverage, no radio reception or other than the VHF communications with the boatman. Next to the north are Pabbay and Sandray; also uninhabited, both with excellent gneiss climbs and potential.
Morning call: wake up in the tent, run to the water with soap in hand, quick wash and try to play with the Seals. Out running! A visit to see if we were OK.
Deep Water Soloing (DWS) session in the island inlets, with a few falls to test the North Atlantic impacts.
The great Arch of Pabbay while heading back to Barra. Another sea crag full of quality routes and the unsolved problem of “To be continued” a line first put up by Dave Cuthbertson and Lynn Hill and still not sent.