Friday, 16 April 2010

The Great Climb 2010

The mighty Sron Ulladale, Isle of Harris
It’s great to be able to talk about this now…Nearly three years ago, the BBC attempted to run the ambitious live ‘Great Climb’ live broadcast on Cairngorm, with myself and a team of climbers from all over the world. We planned, rigged and trained for the big day. And then it rained. The washout was a huge disappointment, partially avenged by my ascent of my project on Hell’s Lum cliff a few days later which became the film ‘To Hell and Back’. 
Ever since, Triple Echo Productions who were behind the Great Climb project have been planning to make another attempt at a big live climbing event for the BBC. This year, the necessary components have aligned and we have a plan:

On 28th August, myself and Tim Emmett are planning to attempt a hard new route on Sron Ulladale, the biggest overhanging piece of rock in the UK (700 feet high, overhanging it’s base by 150 feet or so). As you might imagine, the prospect of this brings feelings of massive excitement, together with a fair dose of intimidation, pressure and anticipation. The correct ingredients for a fine adventure.

Harris landscape
I’d love to tell you exactly which part of the mighty Sron we will try to climb, but last week on our recce, close inspection of the cliff was out of the question due to the golden eagles, nesting on the main part of the face once again. If the eagles hatch chicks (best of luck to them!) we won’t be able to look closely at the lines until August. So until then, it’s training and waiting. Naturally, our plan is to climb the hardest possible route that imagination and finger strength allows.

Colin Wells standing at the foot of Sron Ulladale. The rock in shot above him is roughly the first fifth of the cliff height (!).
However, we have something else up our sleeves for the meantime. We’ll be doing another challenge to feature in the 6 hour live broadcast. We’ll try a triple five challenge of five new climbs on five hebridean islands in five days. Last week Donald took us around many a far flung corner of the Western Isles, showing us many a gobsmacking unclimbed cliff, geo or stack. After serial protracted deliberations in Hotel Hebrides we shortlisted the many amazing cliffs into five objectives, which we will travel between by boat, sleeping below deck, in camps or under boulders.

I’ll have a lot more to say about this as more plans emerge in the coming weeks. Right now I have to go back to training for it. More on the BBC site here.


  1. This is awesome, So glad you've got another big project to sink your teeth into and look forward to any updates.

  2. watching this just now shit hot. wish there was more climbing programs like this on tv.

  3. good shit m8 watchin now,
    best of luck very technical wish i had my youth back id be up there too..take care

    peachey Glasgow

  4. well done man ,,,,,

  5. Jd, Rochdale28 August, 2010

    That was the most stunning piece of live TV I have seen - well done you guys, absolutely awesome and I hope you enjoyed the beer Tim said you would be having as he waited at the top .... !!!!! I hope there is a programme about the making of it as the logistical stuff must have been amazing.

  6. Well done to you and Tim. Best tv I've seen in a very long time!!! Awesome. :D

    Mel Hayes

  7. Great show - loved that it was live. No one knew what would happen next. Interesting fillers too when you had rest periods. More programs like this please.

  8. R McGinley29 August, 2010

    Fantastic climb,well done to u and Tim.That last pitch looked painful on yer ankle.I never make a point in watching the tele on a Sat. unless the Six Nation Rugby in on,but this was a MUST and sprawled out on the sofa for 6 hours of entertainment.More of this please

  9. We Are re watching the great climb over and over it was awesome you guys were fantastic and deserve a lot of credit, may you go on from strength to strength with more fantastic programmes like that.

  10. Best show on t.v for years, not stopped raving about it!Talking about it to a gentleman and fellow erdinger fan in the Clachan ,Drymen ,yesterday! Couldn't beleive it when he said he was your dad! Coincidences, what a gent, was a pleasure meeting Norman ! Maybe catch a weiss beer with him again !keep the good work up, are there anymore televised climbs planned ?