With a crag base of around 3000 feet, and little reliance on snow and ice for upward progress, this place sits firmly in the modern idiom. If it was made of clean granite, it would be the preserve of the Extreme rock climber. Fortunately for winter climbers, it’s not made of granite, but an exceptionally steep, compact and wonderfully filthy Torridonian Red (sandstone). The lines are strong, the climbing hard and sustained, and the positions are truly sensational. There’s also something uniquely Scottish about mixed climbing up out and onto the side wall of a gully – one only has to think of West Central Gully Wall, on Beinn Eighe, or Central Gully Wall on the Dubh Loch to draw parallels in terms of style and stature.
A lot of work has been put in to date to bring this cliff to life, but for sure a lot remains to be done. Martin’s prediction that this would become one of the country’s best modern mixed climbing venues is coming close to full realisation. Personally, I’ve had seven trips up there now, so I can lay claim to some familiarity. As is so often the case in the Northwest Highlands, my penchant for localism has been triggered by the promise of untapped potential for new climbs. The fact that I’ve only completed four routes to date perhaps provides an indication as to what to expect. This is an adventurous place, with no summer lines and exclusively hard routes, which until now have seen very few if any repeats. Reputations of routes remain to be built.
The line Martin spoke most highly of in terms of both quality and difficulty was Wailing Wall – the first route to breach the frighteningly sheer, smooth and compact area of rock on the upper right side of the cliff. At grade IX,9, he had suggested that this was his hardest (as well as one of his best) routes to date. I was immediately intrigued – I knew from bitter experience that this man didn’t hand out big numbers easily, and a route at such a high standard effectively finding the easiest way up a large area of cliff is a rare thing indeed.