Climbing epic sea stacks
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Sea stacks are the kind of rock formations you’d expect to see in a dream.
THESE SHEER ROCK FACES rise straight up from coastal oceans around the world, eroded from coastlines by wind and water. Even at their shortest, they’re the dictionary definition of ‘epic’.
A surprising amount of climbing history has happened on stacks, including the UK’s first E7, The Bells, The Bells, and Chris Sharma’s famous solo Es Pontas. Here are ten pictures of sea stacks around the world to jog your imagination.
Not to be confused with the desert tower of the same name, the Totem Pole is a 200-foot dolerite stack rising from the Southern Ocean. The Pole was first climbed on aid in 1968, but wasn't freed until 1999, when British climber Steve Monks completed his Free Route (5.12b PG13).In 2002, two climbers from Greenpeace scaled the Totem Pole to raise awareness of illegal fishing. Image: Will Ockenden
This massive volcanic seamount off Australia's Lord Howe Island was first climbed in 1965 by a team from the Sydney Rock Climbing Club, led by legendary Australian climber Bryden Allen. At 1844 feet high, it is the highest known sea stack in the world. Photo: Fanny Schertzer
Located in Victoria's Port Campbell National Park, the Twelve Apostles are one of the major sights along Australia's Great Ocean Road. Despite the name, there are only eight of the rock formations. Photo: artorusrex
A climber prepares to commit to the crux on A Dream of White Horses (HVS 4c), a four-pitch traverse that crosses this cliff off the Welsh coast. While the moves on the route aren't difficult, the sketchy protection and placement of the route mean that a fall could be dangerous. Photos: Masa Sakano
This rock arch in Mallorca is possibly the best-known stack around today. Chris Sharma's unroped first ascent of the formation formed the centerpiece of the movie King Lines. Photo: Kano Photo
Located in Scotland's St. Kitts islands, Stac Lee is home to one of the world's largest colonies of Northern Gannet. As such, climbing is restricted on the stacks today. The other stack in the picture is Stac an Armin; the island is Boreray. Photo: Ian Mitchell
Old Man of Hoy. Several routes scale this pillar in the Orkney Islands, the easiest of which weighs in at E1 on the British trad climbing grade scale. Non-climbers may know this formation from its appearance in a Monty Python sketch. Photo: Simaron