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World’s Most Epic Sea Cliff! 5.14 Trad Above the North Sea

The Longhope Direct is the tallest and hardest sea cliff in the U.K., a place known for run-out and difficult sea cliff lines

Robbie Phillips and Alex Moore team up for The Longhope Direct, a climb that’s been called the world’s hardest sea cliff climb at E10 or 5.14-. It’s found on St John’s Head at Hoy in Orkney, Scotland. Their ascent was captured in the new film Not a Hope in Hoy.

“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.”

The route was first climbed in 1970 by Ed Drummond and Oliver Hill and freed by Dave Macleod in 2011. It was then repeated by James McHaffie and Ben Bransby in 2013. It’s the tallest sea cliff route in the U.K.

After it’s world premier at Kendal Mountain Festival 2022, Not a Hope in Hoy just made its digital debut on YouTube. Watch below.

Not a Hope in Hoy