Sea Cliffs of Elgol
By Drew Smith
By the time we arrived to the Skye Basecamp we were soaked to the bone. The old house that had been converted into a hostel sits on the Broadford Bay on the Isle of Skye, just off the western coast of Scotland. While the rain poured down outside, we relished in the cozy warmth of the old building.
I had been grinding my teeth for a week now wanting to climb. We had already been shut down once by rain and wet rock, and our days were running out. The weather forecast wasn’t looking good and I was pretty sure I would go this trip without tying into a rope.
I asked the staff at the Basecamp if they had any beta on climbing in the area and they told me I’d have to talk with Mike—the owner of the hostel and owner of the local guiding company. He was an older Brit who had been climbing in the area for decades and had written the guidebook to the area. Mike enthusiastically jabbered in his thick British accent and told me we’d for sure find dry rock. He motioned wildly, talking of big holds and steep overhanging rock over the ocean. Glancing out the window, I really didn’t believe him, it sounded to good too be true.
The next day I’m climbing up the unfamiliar stone with nervous hesitation. The rock is damp from the ocean, and all the holds feel like they’re going to break. High above my last piece of protection, I can’t ignore the cold, howling wind and the crashing waves below me. I look down and Mike is belaying me while hand-rolling a cig. He looks up with his big smile and shouts, “Nice one, mate!”
A few climbs later, I’m getting in my groove and feeling more comfortable on the rock. After what feels like weeks of rain, the sun comes out and I feel a big shit eating grin stretch across my face. This is what I came for.