Skye Wall E8 repeated

24 September, 2014

Previously thwarted by the weather, Charlie Woodburn's perseverance in trying to repeat Dave Birkett's Skye Wall (E8 6b), finally paid off on his fourth visit to the Isle of Skye. The impressive vertical to just-off vertical sweep of gabbro was described by Dave "as the most awesome wall of rock in the UK" and until now his 2007 route had remained unrepeated. Charlie sent us details of his second ascent:

"I first went in to do this route in 2011 with Tim Emmett. It's definitely not the easiest route to get to, involving a 12 hour drive from Bristol (where I was living at the time), then a 45 min boat journey, and then an hour walk to the camping spot. From there it's another hour-and-a-half walk to the crag. Tim and I went in carrying a 100m abseil rope for top roping the 1st two pitches in one. After sussing out the gear and climbing, we went back up the next day but the weather was looking poor. Tim lead the first pitch which is about E6ish and I set off up the main pitch as it was starting to rain. When I reached the crux it was really pissing it down, so I down climbed to the belay and we bailed, stashing the ab rope thinking we'd be back in month or so!"

"Fast forward to summer 2013. I was in Skye and ready to go in but the weather was so bad I didn't even bother. Then last month I went in for a week and stayed in the Memorial Hut with Liam Lonsdale, Leah Crane, Dom Bush and Gilly McArthur. Liam and I walked in with another 100m ab rope, top roped it, and got ready to do it a couple of days later after some bad weather had passed, but it rained for five days non-stop. On the 6th day it wasn't raining, so we went up but it was soaked and then it started raining again anyway. We bailed again, taking out the old ab rope and stashing the new one.

Skye Wall
"Finally this weekend I went in with Gilly and Sandy Ogilvie. We took in an inflatable dingy with an outboard engine and took all our camping stuff up Loch Coruisk the easy way. The weather was perfect all weekend and the route went down really smoothly."

"The climbing on it isn't particularly hard physically. The rock is gabbro so the small crimps totally trash your skin so you can't really work it too much. The gear is pretty good really with there only being one run-out section, and a hollow flake that I wouldn't like to fall on to, but without doubt the crux of this route is getting there in dry weather. The position of it on that wall high above the Coruisk valley and the colours and texture of the rock and whole atmosphere of the place make it undoubtedly one of Britain's classic routes."

"The epic nature of getting there particularly from the southern half of the UK, really only adds to what a brilliant route it is. And the saga of bad weather that I've experienced only made me appreciate doing it in perfect conditions all the more. Have to add a big thanks to the irrepressible Dave Birkett for seeking out the line and establishing it."

Loch Coruisk