Duration: 2 days
Client to Instructor Ratio: 2:1 Max
A genuinely once-in-a-lifetime adventure, The Old Man of Hoy scarcely requires an introduction, being the primary attraction for climbers in the Orkney Isles. We simplify the process of accessing and ascending this most iconic of all British rock climbs, making your journey smooth and memorable.
Before Your Course
Your EverydayClimbing instructor will be in touch one to two days before your course commences. This pre-course contact serves to introduce your instructor, confirm meeting details, and provide insight into the expected weather conditions. Our instructor are readily available to address any queries you may have, ensuring you're well-prepared for your upcoming adventure.
Getting to Hoy offers various options. You have the choice of meeting us pre-departure, and we'll travel together as foot passengers to Hoy. Alternatively, you can arrange to meet your guide at any point in your journey, including the ultimate destination, Rackwick on Hoy.
If you choose to travel with us, our usual practice involves carpooling from Inverness. We then take a ferry from Thurso to Stromness and a second ferry to the Isle of Hoy. On Hoy, we make use of a local taxi service to cross the island and reach Rackwick Bay.
There are several accommodation options available for this trip. Rackwick offers a free-to-use bothy and a flat camping area. There is also a private hostel, as well as private cottage rentals for those seeking more comfortable lodging. We can assist or arrange any of these options for you.
If you choose to stay in the bothy, please ensure you have a sleeping bag and a roll mat. While a tent isn't usually necessary, we highly recommend bringing one just in case the bothy is crowded. Also, don't forget to pack some firewood and a small dram for the evening. It's a chance to savour the incredible atmosphere of this unique location.
Rackwick doesn't have any shops or cafes, so you'll need to bring all your meals with you. If needed, we can help organise meals and cooking equipment for your group if staying at the Bothy. The hostels are equipped with self-catering kitchens for your convenience.
On The Day
Our primary goal is to guide you to the summit of the stack. Depending on weather and conditions, this may be accomplished on either day of your adventure.
Our approach to the stack starts from beside the hostel, taking us up and over massive cliffs. After about an hour, the stack comes into view, and we stop at a promontory to get a good look at the stack and the route we'll be taking up it. This is also a great spot for taking some excellent photos.
From the promontory, a grassy scramble leads fairly easily to the base of the stack. This area serves as a good place to gear up, and you can leave your rucksacks and shoes here to collect upon your return. Our guides typically break the climb into 6 or 7 pitches, which allows us to keep clients in sight during the trickier sections and provide assistance when needed. Depending on your experience and confidence, we can divide the climb into more sections if required. Once you reach the twin summit, congratulations are in order, and it's tradition to record your names in the summit logbook.
For the descent, we split the stack into four full-length abseils. Your guide will provide instruction and security as you descend. The final abseil is free-hanging for most of its length, offering an exhilarating experience and a spectacular view of the stack's scale.
Once back on the ground, we'll scramble up to the promontory for a few last photos before making our way back to Rackwick. If the weather is fine, a swim can be a refreshing way to end the day.
On the second day, after spending the night in your chosen accommodation, we'll start the return journey to the mainland. The Isle of Orkney has some excellent independent shops for buying souvenirs, and the ferry sails directly past Rackwick and the Old Man, offering one last glimpse of this special place.
A Word On Fulmars
It's important to note that the stack is the property of the RSPB and serves as a crucial breeding site for various seabird species, such as Razorbills, Puffins, and Fulmars. The original climbers' route is typically free of breeding birds, but there may be instances where deviations are necessary to avoid disturbing them. If an ascent is booked during the breeding season, we will seek advice on the current situation to ensure a successful climb without disrupting the birds. The nesting season generally occurs from May to July, but the exact timing may vary annually.
Additionally, it's worth mentioning that the Fulmar is highly territorial and can protect itself by projecting fish oil onto climbers who approach too closely. This serves as an extra incentive to avoid the birds during the breeding season!
Not quite what you're seeking? No problem! We specialise in organising climbing, scrambling, or mountaineering guides for any route in the Scottish Highlands or islands. From the dramatic sea-stacks to the legendary Skye Cuillin, we've got your adventure covered. Feel free to drop us a line with your specific requirements, and we'll promptly respond to your inquiry.
This course is available year-round and can be scheduled on any day that suits your plans. Reach out to discuss your specific requirements or contact us using the form below.
Our prices are comprehensive and cover the following:
One person - £600
Two people - £650 (£325 per person)
Kindly note that the following costs are not covered by the guiding fees -
There is a substantial amount of information available online about the difficulty of this route and its various sections. Having guided it many times, we've found that if clients are confident in following on Very Severe (VS) ground, they are generally capable of climbing the stack. While most of the climbing is straightforward, there are two sections that require special attention.
During pitch two, a traverse must be made. This can feel quite exposed and daunting, especially for less experienced climbers. In this section, we place protection high above you and can guide you to the exact handholds.
Pitch three involves a challenging move that is strenuous, and the footholds are relatively small. We can assist with a tight rope if needed, but we typically encourage clients to attempt the move a few times before providing additional support.
Our skilled instructors prioritise your safety throughout the climb. We guide you as we access the route, lead pitches, manage belay stances, and ensure your protection during abseils or descents. We offer coaching and instruction based on your specific needs. Furthermore, if necessary, we can provide physical assistance during the most challenging sections. When you book, we'll have a conversation with you to discuss your background and aspirations, ensuring that your chosen route aligns with your abilities. If required, we can suggest an appropriate route that provides the right level of challenge for you or offer training to help you meet the necessary requirements.
• 70l-90l duffle bag
• 45l-65l+ backpack for approaches
• 10-20l backpack (for climbing with)
• Approach shoes
• Climbing shoes
• Large rubble sack
• 1 or 2 man tent
• 2-3 Season sleeping bag
• Sleeping bag liner
• Sleeping mat and pillow
• Bowl, mug and cutlery
• Water bottles (around 2 litres)
• Head torch + spare batteries
• Spare pairs socks/underwear
• Waterproof jacket and trousers
• Thin fleece, soft-shell or light insulated jacket
• Thick fleece, soft-shell or insulated jacket
• Warm hat
• Hiking trousers
• 2x Synthetic/merino base layers
• Sun lotion and sunglasses
• Midge head-net and midge repellent
• Personal medication and toiletries
• Waterproof stuff sacks
• Camera, phone and charging block
• Walking poles
• Climbing helmet
• Harness and chalk bag
• Belay device and screw-gate carabiner
• 120cm sling and carabiner
To guarantee your comfort and security throughout our activities, we strongly advise all participants to come prepared with the complete equipment listed. While our activities may proceed even if participants do not have the entire kit list, please be aware that EverydayClimbing and our instructors retain the right to modify the itinerary or conclude the activity early should the absence of essential equipment pose an elevated risk to the group, exceeding acceptable safety standards.
As part of our unwavering commitment to eliminating barriers to outdoor adventures, we offer a selection of equipment available for use by anyone, with no questions asked. Your safety and enjoyment are our top priorities. Just drop us a line to let us know what you require.