The Old Man of Stoer's Location in Scotland

Old Man of Stoer - Original Route

Arguably one of the best sea stacks in the United Kingdom, The Old Man of Stoer (Stake), makes for an adventurous day out and an all round exceptional climb. The rock is Torridonian sandstone, meaning it was formed before any significant life on earth existed. The approach is either some wet rock hopping 100m north of the stack at the lowest tide or the more classic Tyrolean traverse which may need to be set up by swimming the 8 meter channel if there is not one left in place when you arrive. The route itself, Original Route, meanders the landward face, following cracks and ledges to the top. Larger cams can be helpful. Be wary of nesting sea birds whose first line of defence is usually to attack by projecting the last meal they ate at nearby unsuspecting climbers.

Grade VS 5a
Length 67m
Pitches 5
Approach 50min

The Route Topography

This is the route Original Route on Old Man of Stoer in Sutherland, Scotland. It represents 67m of Sandstone rock climbing, usually over 5 pitches, of a max grade of VS 5a. Clicking the image will load the full screen high resolution Original Route climb topo.

Original Image: Our own image

Approach & Descent Information

Approach: Park at the car park near the Stoer Light house (58.237948, -5.400902). From there take the coastal path heading 3Km northwards to the sea stack, going over the hill of Sidhean Mor. It will take roughly an hour to reach the Old Man of Stoer. Standing on the mainland at the first point you reach across from the stack, there is a small steep path down, requiring some scramble that can be damp from run-off in places. There is usually a Tyrolean traverse in situ that can be used to get to the stack (in July 2022 it was tied around a boulder on the mainland with a 4-point traditional anchor on the stack). Swimming the channel (and setting up a rope traverse) is the alternative if there is no rope in place. It is possible to rock hop and wade across, around 100m north of the stack if there is a very low tide.

Descent: Make a single abseil off using a pair of 60m ropes. The intermediate belay station at 40m is hard to reach due to the overhang and very poorly equipped (rusting / rotting in July 2022), so not recommended.

See Old Man of Stoer on the climb map Open climb location in Google Maps

Pitch By Pitch Information

The Original Route on the Old Man of Stoer is one of a handful of so called 4 star climbs (4 stars out of 3). The route certainly has variety, exposure, a beautiful setting and an incredible abseil finish. In terms of protection, medium, large and even very large cams can be helpful for protecting parts of the route. Route finding on pitches 3 and 4 can be tricky and these are arguably the hardest parts of the climb despite the traverse on pitch one getting the hardest technical grade in guidebooks.
Pitch 1 –15m 5a
Climb up a couple of moves and then traverse left around the base of the stack using one small horizontal break for feet and a bigger horizontal break for hands. Reach a comfortable ledge just out of sight of the start of the route, a belay can be set up here at the base of the slab.
Pitch 2 –12m 4a
Climb up the slab, trending right at the top to create a belay on the next large ledge.
Pitch 3 –15m 4b
Make bold moves up steep ground either directly above the belay point or using the right trending grove, then moving left again at the break. After this move up and left to another ledge. This is the belay point for the Diamond Face Route. From here there is a wedged boulder above, pass this on the right side to make a belay in the cave on top of the wedged boulder.
Pitch 4 –10m 4c
Start the pitch traversing easily right around the corner before trending up and right. From a small ledge make some hard moves to gain a bigger ledge / niche where the final belay can be made. Guidebooks seem to suggest traversing further right to create a belay on a smaller ledge. This would mean the final pitch climbs the chimney directly above the small belay ledge.
Pitch 5 –15m 3c
Move up and diagonally right to one large edge, then up onto another. From here take the left slanting slab to the summit plateau.


Scottish Rock, Volume 2, North

Scottish Rock, Volume 2, North - pg. 266

A brilliant book covering such a wide and varied set of crags in the north of Scotland. The section on The Old Man of Stoer Routes is good. The images of longer routes and indeed this sea stack can be a bit small. Some of the descriptions are also a little lacking on longer routes.

Availible Here R.R.P. £ 25
ISBN: 9781906095468

Weather & Local Conditions

Seasonal Weather Information

Note that some weather stations are close or even on the mountain, others are in nearby towns. Plan accordingly!

Estimated Rainy Days Per Month

  • 20
  • 17
  • 20
  • 16
  • 15
  • 14
  • 15
  • 17
  • 17
  • 20
  • 19
  • 17

The graph shows the estimated average number of rainy days in the month that had more than 1mm rainfall or snow:

Estimated Temperature Per Month

  • 85
  • 75
  • 85
  • 96
  • 118
  • 1310
  • 1512
  • 1513
  • 1411
  • 129
  • 107
  • 86

Estimated average high and low temperature in degrees Celsius for the given month.

References & additional links

The following links will take you to external websites specifically related to this climb: Original Route on Old Man of Stoer.
Note: They contained relevant information at the time of publishing.

Climb Info: Mountain Project Page

Climb Info: UKC Page

Climb Image: Climber on better penultimate belay. Credit Malcolm H.

Video: The swim & climb to the sea stack

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