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.”
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.”