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Explore Scotland: Sail & Climb the Outer Hebrides – Part 4 “Pabbay”

The wind conditions on the following day were ideal for accessing Pabbay’s rock cliffs with a dinghy. It brought us to the foot of the Pink Wall, a 120-meter overhanging wall which I reached in 1995 on my first trip. When I think back on it, I can never completely suppress a smirk. Central Europeans are referred to in the UK as “puffy continentals” (wimps) and ironically, as such, we would open up some of the most rewarding climbing routes on the islands at that time.

When it came to naming the new route, we literally placed an egg in the nest on the wall for the Scots: “Ü-Ei” is the farthest route to the right of those we climbed at that time, named after the chocolate “Überraschung Eier” (surprise eggs) that were so popular in Germany in the ’90s, and also for a round boulder that crumbled in my hand during my first ascent. Climbing the route now, I am amazed at my own courage. I now know that the line doesn’t extend beyond the VII degree, but at the time? The terrain was completely unknown and the upper third hung over in difficult to estimate dimensions, while underneath were plates, cracks, dihedrals, roofs.

While I was enjoyed the climbing on “Ü-Ei” with the others,moving closer to the yet unfamiliar climbing above the sea, Fritz and Jan climbed the neighbouring route “Spit in Paradise”, also from 1995. At the border between light and shadows, Fritz straddled his way upward over smooth dihedrals, wound his way through cracks and bridged up onto an overhanging rock cuboid. In the second pitch, where two fingers-cracks running parallel through an overhang, Fritz decided to head left. The crack closed after ten meters and he tried to traverse on two tiny slopers over to the right crack. Too late – not enough strength. A moment later, the rope tightened, pulled Jan off his feet and Fritz fell again just above the belay station of the second pitch; one of the Friends held the eight-meter fall – we were all spellbound. He waved: nothing serious – just part of a day’s work.

Then he climbed up again, this time in the right crack, and made a belay. Jan followed, enjoying the climb, except for the protection, which he could hardly remove after the fall. After three hours of climbing, the Eda Frandsen with Mel at the railing looked tiny and somewhere above us, tufts of grass marked an end to the fun cruelty. We returned back to Pabbay’s beach with its turquoise water beckoning us to swim. From the looks of it, we felt like were in the South Seas, but the temperature of the water quickly convinced us otherwise and brought us back to our Scottish reality:the north Atlantic never gets warmer than 14 °C in summer.Part IV of the journey
To be continued…

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