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16 October 2014

The Great Climb

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All the latest from The Great Climb
24/08/07 | The Great Climb – down but not out as Dave Macleod produces a landmark climb for BBC Scotland

A message from Richard Else, Triple Echo Productions Executive Producer of the Great Climb...

What a week it been - the huge frustration of one of the worst weekends of the summer preventing us from bringing you the Great Climb was followed by many, many messages of support - both by email and people we've met on the hill. The key theme has been "don't give up". In fact, we hadn't - a small group of us stayed behind and on Thursday we witnessed one of the more impressive feats of climbing I've ever seen. Dave Macleod succeeded on his new, and highly dangerous, route on Hell's Lum. A truly historic occasion... and nail biting all the way.

Watch this space for details of the exclusive film we've made for BBC Scotland and I can guarantee you'll be holding on to your seat. To Hell and Back is the apt title for both the route and film. Also, later in the year, we'll be showing a special programme devoted to the Cairngorms - celebrating its landscape, precious environment and giving an insight into how this special place is managed and preserved for future generations.

As the for the Great Climb itself... we've learnt so much about all aspects of this type of pioneering programme that I wouldn't be at all surprised if we tried again. Watch this space.


Unfortunately due to adverse weather conditions The Great Climb has been postponed until Sunday 19th August. Please check back to this site for further details.

16/08/07 | Latest from Dave Macleod
Proposed E10 route on Hell's Lum
Photograph courtesy of Triple Echo Productions

Cubby and I have been trying to get a few hours in Hell’s Lum preparing a bit more for Saturday before the heavens open again. It’s all a bit nerve wracking really seeing as the Atlantic just keeps thrashing Scotland with rainstorms back to back every day. The freezing level is dropping near to the summits too, so maybe even a bit of white stuff is in prospect? Here’s hoping for some good fortune by Friday at least. If it’s wet Friday then the harder line is out of the question for The Great Climb – the drainage lines on it need a full day to dry.

10/08/07 | Macleod reveals new route – 'I might just try something harder!!?'
Helicopter over Shelter Stone
Photograph courtesy of Triple Echo Productions

As Dave Macleod prepares to make, what might be, the climb of his life he discusses what he's planning to attempt...

'The chopper flying off from the top of Hell’s Lum crag yesterday morning, dropping off the first of the equipment for shooting The Great Climb for the BBC. They did offer me a lift up from Glenmore Lodge, but that would be unthinkable for any self-respecting climber so I declined and trekked off up the path ; ) I’d only been in a helicopter once before as a kid as well…

After I’d wiped the sweat from my brow from the slog over Cairngorm to Hell’s Lum I abbed into the depths of the Lum for the second time for another 8 hour shift of prospecting new routes.

On my first day I looked across at a beautiful smooth marbly wall which looked utterly inspiring. I abseiled down it quickly and found a perfect line of miniscule brick edges running up it, but very (extremely) little protection available. “E11” popped into my head. But yesterday I got stuck into it and found that I could actually pull on those holds. That was quite a surprise, and after a while I linked it in one go at hard 8a+. Thing is, falling from the hard part or the sustained moves above would mean certain death, no question. So where Indian Face is 7b with bad pro, this is top end 8a+ with even worse pro. Hmmm E10 for sure.

I’m psyched!

It’s probably the best quality rock on a new route I’ve ever tried, so the motivation to climb it is so strong. What better day could you choose than when such a momentous event as the great climb will capture such a great route on film?

Well yes, but it’s not as simple as that. At E8, even E9, I could wait until the filming team were ready and wear a radio mic etc so they get the grunting they want. But E10 is very very close to my limit, and the consequences of blowing it as high as they could get. So to climb this next Saturday, the temperature and humidity must be right, the build up must be right, the social vibe must be right, the resting times must be right. If anything upsets the necessary rhythm of preparation, I will have to make a cold decision to pass up the opportunity to complete this amazing project and go back to my plan for the E8/9 just to the right. Exciting!

I sooooo hope the conditions are right for it next Sat. Do a sun (plus fresh breeze) dance for me'.

08/08/07 | The Great Climb presenting team announced

The Great Climb will have the combined skills of Dougie Vipond, Tim Walker, Duncan McCallum and Cameron McNeish. Detaile biographies can be found under the 'Behind the Scenes' section.

07/08/07 | What the stars really think

We asked each of the participants in The Great Climb to give us a few words about how they felt taking part – and what climbing means to them. Here’s what they said…

Barry Blanchard, Canadian alpinist extraordinaire
On The Great Climb…“The Great Climb’s getting close, and yes I am very excited. I have never climbed rock in the United Kingdom and that is a bloody shame as so much of Canadian mountain culture was born in the Scottish Highlands, and the crags of England and Wales. I”ll get to touch some of that history on the Shelterstone! And, it’s granite to boot, a spectacular rock that I so rarely get to climb on. In addition, I must be doing something right in this life as I get to tie in with Araceli Segarra, who is a positive force of nature and who can -should the climbing get tough- put the rope over my head. This is going to be a heck of a lot of fun.”

On climbing…“Climbing... as a young guy it gave me a way to succeed in a life that had been largely set up to fail. Sounds corny but climbing mountains raised me out of a tough start and taught me much of what I know of myself, and the world. Climbing is my calling, it is what I am best at and what I do. A profession, a passion and a pastime. As I edge in on 50 with a two and a half year old daughter, and a second daughter born just 11 days ago, my climbing is changing along with my life. It is a fascinating ride and one that I am so curious to coast in on 70 with.”


Ed February, leading South African climber for 30 years
On The Great Climb...“I have never climbed in Scotland - a place with a great reputation among climbers for hard routes and adverse conditions. Hence, I’m extremely nervous about climbing there - especially since I have also never led E5 in the UK and so there is a lot of anticipation around that grade for me! (In fact I am getting sweaty palms just thinking about it…)”

On climbing...“Climbing is something that controls my whole life…
In many ways it defines who I am.
It’s not about the grades however; I love climbing with like-minded people who generally want to be out in the hills having fun.”

See you soon,

Jenny Graham, beginner rock climber
On the Great Climb…“I am really excited about taking part in The Great Climb! I have hardly done any outdoor climbing before so this is going to be such a cool experience.”

On outdoor pursuits…“I live in Inverness with my son Lachlan. I work for the Highland Council on a ’Big Lottery’ funded project. My job involves taking young people who would otherwise not participate into the Outdoors and introducing them to various activities such as mountain biking, canoeing, skiing etc.

I haven’t always worked in the outdoor industry though. I left school at 16 & moved around working in the Hospitality/Hotel trade. When Lachie reached school age I took the opportunity to attend an Outdoor Pursuits Course at Inverness College. I got a really big taste for the outdoor life there & haven’t stopped since.

And for fun…

Pizza & Beer float my boat, banging beats from the White Stripes & a bit of melody from Willy Mason keep me in line as I cruise the downhill mountain bike trails to burn it all off.”

See ya!

Ben Heason, an Englishman abroad
On the Great Climb…“I'm particularly excited because, despite having had a strong desire to do so for quite some time now, this will be the first time I've ever rock climbed in Scotland. However, I am also a little apprehensive because I know the fearsome reputation that many routes in Scotland hold. On top of all this, due to various injury problem, increased work commitments and of course the weather, I've not been able to get out climbing much for a very long time. I certainly expect to be more than just a little challenged by my climb!”

On climbing…“There are many different aspects to climbing which, combined, have given me great pleasure throughout my life. The pure and simple physical aspects to climbing have always been an important draw – I've always enjoyed being very fit and active. The mental side to climbing has also given me some great highs - as well as more than just a few lows – over the years. I have particularly enjoyed dangerous, more psychological climbs in the past. I was fortunate enough to travel extensively when I was very young, and I love the varied, beautiful and often remote places that climbing has landed me in.

Last, but by no means least, the camaraderie and general social scene has been a huge reason for my unwavering passion for climbing.”


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