Ascent of Bioda Mor on 2009-04-15

Climber: Rob Woodall

Others in Party:Ian Teasdale
Ian McNee
Date:Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Boat
Peak:Bioda Mor
    Elevation:584 ft / 178 m

Ascent Trip Report

3 days after summitting Mullach an Eilein (Boreray) on a group charter, Wednesday morning, Ian Teasdale and I bag two spare places on a Kilda Cruises trip from Leverburgh, with the National Trust warden primed to accompany us on a Dun summit bid. (He's just started his first placement on St Kilda and from what we overhear on the radio, he sounds keen to get across there). Calm sea, smart boat, easy three-hour voyage.

We anchor in Village Bay in bright sunshine which picks out the clean forms of the stone dykes and cleats arrayed across the slopes of Conachair. But our sights are set on the surreal form lying across the bay. Our skipper Angus Campbell ferries us all across to the village pier to meet the warden Ian McNee, who then joins Ian T and I for the five-minute trip to Dun. Too much swell for the preferred landing spot, so we are dropped at the far right end, on a little rocky step below some slabs. The rock is green and the three of us climb carefully for a few metres to reach nice dry slabs. We assess the options then Ian the warden leads up an easy grassy (and Fulmar-free) gully, then we cross easy grass and a narrowish neck, passing left of a rock tower then keeping just left of the Fulmared north ridge we climb the steep puffin-burrowed slope to the grassy summit. We are lucky that the puffins haven’t moved back yet; a few are already gathering on the water; a few more days and the ascent may not have been feasible.

From Bioda Mor summit the view back across Village Bay is captivating, while the rock architecture nearer to hand is highly impressive. Eventually we head back down and return to the little RIB. We have two hours on Hirta, then another tour of the stacs before the 3 hour trip back to Leverburgh. Half an hour later Ian and I find ourselves in the Harris Hotel discussing sea stacs. Well, you never know your luck...

St Kilda photos

Aerial photography on peoplesmap : select the Getmapping layer.

We were back again in September: see Cnoc Glas (Soay) trip report

Access / restrictions / timing: the main issue on Dun affecting summit access is Puffins. They arrive mid April, and are mostly gone by the end of August: this leaves a fairly narrow window of opportunity before the arrive and after they leave; October to March it is harder to find a weather window and the normal tourist trips don't run. The route to the summit goes through a dense colony and care is needed to avoid or minimise damage to their burrows.

Landing: if significant swell, land at NF099979 close to N point of island, on a little rocky step below some slabs, potentially slippery, then a clamber up a muddy gully to reach easy grass. Ideally (in low swell) land on easy-angled slabs at about NF102978 (Seilg Geodha, at the point or just north-west of it) - then scramble along the couple of hundred metres between the sea and the vegetation until you can climb up a easy ramp.

Ascent: once landed, walk to the neck (NF103973), then scramble more or less straight up the north ridge to the summit: with plenty of fulmars (keep a bit L to avoid them); many of the puffin burrows on this line are derelict.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:584 ft / 178 m
    Round-Trip Distance:0.6 mi / 1 km
    Grade/Class:YDS 3
    Quality:10 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Open Country, Scramble
    Weather:Pleasant, Calm, Clear
Ascent Statistics
    Time:1 Hours 
Descent Statistics
    Time:30 Minutes

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