After a great trip last summer to the Isle of Mingulay, south of Barra in the Outer Hebrides, I was keen to get back, this time to the Isle of Pabbay. The islands have been on my radar for a while but the commitment of getting together a group of people, everyone getting out to Barra and then getting on a small boat to drop you off for a week or so with no comms in whatever weather comes off the Atlantic is something I think holds a lot of people back.
This year I was climbing with Malcy after both his partner and mine from last year couldn't make it. Malcy has been going to the islands for over 15 years and knows them well. After a few routes on Banded Wall on the first day we went to check out his 'Crag X', a crag he'd been looking at for years but never gone and played on, just like everyone else.
We rigged a 90m abseil with numerous rebelays to access the promontory and then set about checking out lines, trundling blocks on the looser terrain and trying a few lines. Closer inland the rock seems to have seen less wave washing and has more loose rock on it but where the crags are exposed the rock is great and we got some nice routes in.
With a bit of a stormy forecast for the whole week we'd known from the outset that this trip could be a bit different to last year where we climbed great rock everyday, arrived and departed on the hoped dates and only got rained on when we were in bed. Having arrived on the Sunday night, Malcy and I found ourselves running around the island on Tuesday finding the rest of the team to discuss when we would be departing based on the latest weather and the boat offering a collection that day.
With a forecast from Chucky's InReach suggesting things were only really going to get bad around the weekend everyone agreed to stay on the island and see out a wet Wednesday hoping for a later pick up. Before Wednesday's rain we managed to snatch a handful of nice routes at Evening Wall close to camp.
With an updated forecast on Thursday morning and a a few messages out to the boat enquiring about a pick up, the whole team headed to the Poop Deck and Banded Wall in case we had to leave quickly. Good planning meant when the call came we were back in camp and ready for the boat back to Barra before the stormy weekend and fish super in the pub.
Slightly disappointing to have missed out on climbing any of the real classic lines due to a short trip with poor weather, but the days we did get have left me psyched to head back...maybe at a drier time of year.
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