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One of the World’s Hardest Sea Cliffs Climbed in Scotland

The chossy sea cliff climb is one of the hardest like it in the world

Longhope Direct is an E10 7a multi-pitch trad climb up a sea cliff at St. John’s Head on the Isle of Hoy in Scotland. The climb is found close to the famous Old Man of Hoy first climbed in 1970 by Oliver Hill and Ed Drummond.

The first ascent was by Dave Macleod in 2011, and it was climbed again in 2013 by James McHaffie and Ben Bransby. British trad pro Robbie Phillips and strong boulderer Alex Moore have just made another all-free ascent of Longhope Direct. Phillips projected it in 2021 with Emma Twyford, but conditions and vomiting birds (watch the video below) a full repeat.

The Send: “When we reached the final crux pitch we were both knackered and it was pretty clear we’d have time for one go each,” said Phillips. “It was my lead and I really didn’t feel like it, but I racked up anyway before noticing that I’d racked up back to front… my head was struggling to comprehend how to rack up in order of gear placement.”

After each pitch, the lead rappelled and cleaned the gear so the other climber could free on lead. Both Phillips and Moore sent each pitch placing gear, except for the last as time was running out.

“I abseiled back down to join Alex who was frozen from standing still belaying on the wobbling guillotine ledge,” said Phillips. “The sun was setting and to strip the gear would take too long, so he decided to lead on my gear to save time. I then watched Alex smash up the pitch like a man possessed.”

Longhope Direct Project Sesh