Friday, 16 April 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.
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.