Hill: Stac Pollaidh
Date: Friday 6th September 2013
Company: Myself and John
I set out yesterday to ascend Stac Pollaidh with my friend John. With only 2 out of 224 Grahams remaining John was keen to
reach the true summit of Stac Pollaidh, leaving only Beinn Mhor on South Uist to
complete his round of Grahams. I last ascended Stac Pollaidh in 2011.
On arriving at the Stac Pollaidh car park we made our way up via the
standard route of ascent.
There is a well constructed footpath from the car park leading towards the
hill made using numerous rocks and boulders. While these paths are excellent
at preventing erosion, I find them fairly unpleasant to walk on.
During the walk along the initial section of path, I stopped to photograph a Fly Agaric toadstool and some Devil's Bit Scabious. Seeing Devil's Bit Scabious in bloom made me realise that summer
was now well and truly over.
Devil's Bit Scabious:
It wasn't long before we were getting great views across Loch Lurgainn to
the Coigach hills.
Looking across Loch Lurgainn to Coigach hills:
Two weeks ago I was summiting a c.6100m mountain, now I was ascending a c.610m mountain. Only one-tenth of the height but a great hill nonetheless.
As we made our way towards the easy col we could see many of the Assynt
It took only 45 minutes to get from the car park onto the ridge.
Looking towards the East top from the col:
From the easy col, we began our traverse of Stac Pollaidh's ridge. We followed the path to the South of the ridge
where there are three gullies leading up onto the crest of the ridge. We ascended the second (middle) gully to reach the crest. We then dropped down a few metres to continue our traverse along the North-side of the ridge.
Looking back along the ridge towards the East top:
Beyond the gullies, the next section of the ridge is straight-forward.
Traversing the ridge of Stac Pollaidh:
View from ridge:
We stopped a couple of times during the traverse to take photos of the pinnacles.
Punch and Judy pinnacles:
The Lobster Claw pinnacle:
Stac Pollaidh ridge:
En-route to the false summit there is an awkward large boulder to get around. There are few positive handholds and a feeling of being off-balance while edging past it. Just beyond this boulder is the false summit.
Approaching the false summit:
The rocky tower ahead blocking the route to the true summit is the trickiest section of the ridge;
many only go as far as the false summit. There are two options to proceed on
to the true summit, (i) an ascent of the rocky tower or (ii) descend the gully to the South for a few metres and then ascend an awkward leaning slab. Technically the
leaning slab is the easier option.
The true summit ahead:
The rocky tower en-route to the true summit:
At the false summit, I improvised a harness for John using a sling and put on my
own harness. I then soloed the small tower. While the first two or three
moves up the tower are hard scrambling / easy climbing, the upper section of the tower is
much more straight-forward.
On reaching the top of the tower, I set up anchors and then belayed John up to the top of the tower. John managed up the tower no problem but welcomed the security of the rope.
From the top of the tower it was an easy walk to the true summit. I left the rope in place to
lower John off on the way back.
John at the summit of Stac Pollaidh:
Myself at the summit of Stac Pollaidh:
View from ridge:
After lowering John off the short tower, I scrambled down the leaning slab.
We then traversed back along the ridge.
Cul Mor from ridge:
Panorama from ridge:
On reaching the top of the second gully we scrambled back down to the South of the ridge and
then back along to the col before the East top.
Heading back along the ridge towards the East top:
From the col, it was an easy stroll back to the car.
Looking back to Stac Pollaidh:
Stac Pollaidh is one of the best Grahams. I hope to ascend it many times