Wednesday 24 Sep 2014
A breathtaking live ascent in one of the most spectacular and challenging climbing locations in Britain will be filmed in an ambitious BBC Scotland broadcast this summer.
Two of the most prestigious figures from the climbing world will be filmed scaling Sron Uladail on the Isle of Harris – renowned as one of the toughest rock faces in the world.
Dave Macleod and Tim Emmett will tackle the daunting overhanging crag in one of the largest outside broadcasts to be mounted in the Outer Hebrides.
The dramatic ascent will be transmitted on Saturday 28 August on BBC Two Scotland, for six hours.
The broadcast of a live rock climb will be a world first, using the latest cutting-edge OB technology. The Great Climb is being produced for BBC Scotland by Triple Echo, who are hugely experienced at working in remote and sensitive habitats.
Permission for the ground-breaking programme was granted on the basis that the producers agree a leave-no-trace commitment to protect the fragile local environment, with much equipment being flown in to prevent any erosion to the mountain trails and rare plant communities that live on them.
Programme makers Triple Echo, who make The Adventure Show series for BBC Scotland, are working closely with the North Harris Trust in preparing for the big event and have readily agreed to postpone exploratory climbing of the cliff face due to the unexpected nesting of a pair of golden eagles.
The programme will also feature a spectacular world record attempt by the two climbers from earlier in the summer. They will be endeavouring to ascend five other world class new routes in five Outer Hebrides islands in just five days for the Triple Five Challenge.
There will also be features reflecting the cultural, linguistic and historic importance of the location on Harris and also on its outstanding natural history and landscape.
Leading Scottish walker Cameron McNeish is also developing a new long-distance route throughout the Outer Isles, which will be revealed on the day of the Sron Uladail ascent.
David Harron, Head of Television Sport at BBC Scotland, said: "This promises to be a memorable televisual event, combining physical drama and spectacular scenery with leading edge broadcast technology. It will be a landmark project in its scale and ambition, which we hope will provide a compelling viewing experience."
Dougie Vipond, who will present the programme, said: "This is set to be one of the most inspiring films ever produced of climbers in action. It will be a hugely challenging and bold ascent and our cameras will be there to capture all the drama as it happens."
Triple Echo executive producer Richard Else summed up the project: "We're delighted to be working with the North Harris Trust and members of the local community on this project. And, whilst the climbing will undoubtedly be nail biting, there's so much more to this broadcast.
"I've been visiting Harris for 35 years and am keen for an opportunity to celebrate the fantastic landscape, history, and culture of the isle."
North Harris Trust chair Calum MacKay said: "The North Harris Trust is delighted to be hosting The Great Climb because it gives an opportunity for us to showcase our world class landscape and heritage."
Another ascent – of Orkney's famous Old Man of Hoy – which was filmed live by the BBC in Scotland became an iconic television event. In 1967, a live outside broadcast attracted millions of viewers over a three-night period.
The six climbers involved in that broadcast were Chris Bonington, Tom Patey, Joe Brown, Ian McNaught-Davis, Pete Crew and Dougal Haston.
Sron Uladail is the UK's largest overhanging cliff and lies at the heart of an area of outstanding landscape beauty and natural heritage value. It is part of:
South Lewis, Harris and North Uist National Scenic Area
North Harris Site of Special Scientific Interest
North Harris Special Area of Conservation
North Harris Mountains Special Protection Area
In summary, North Harris is one of the largest areas of "wild land" in Scotland with particular conservation interests being golden eagles, freshwater pearl mussels, otters, Atlantic salmon, wet heath and alpine grassland.
The North Harris Trust owns 25,000ha of North Harris on behalf of the local community, having purchased the North Harris and Loch Seaforth estates in 2003 and 2006 respectively.
The Trust is working to regenerate the local economy while also conserving the natural and cultural heritage of the area.
The local community of approx 700 is scattered in a number of crofting townships across the estate, with the largest population centre being the village of Tarbert. Gaelic is still widely spoken.
The Trust has grown its activities steadily since its inception. its current projects include:
Implementing a management agreement agreed with Scottish Natural Heritage for the North Harris SSSI.
Establishing a new ranger service.
Improving some of the 36 miles of footpaths across the estate.
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