NE Scotland, Orkney & Shetland

Blind climber leads an ascent of the Old Man of Hoy

Jesse Dufton on the Old Man Image copyright MOLLY THOMPSON
Image caption Jesse Dufton says the ascent left him exhilarated but exhausted

British para climber Jesse Dufton has completed an ascent of the Old Man of Hoy - which he led.

The sea stack in Orkney has been climbed by blind people in the past, but he is thought to be the first blind climber to lead an ascent.

He was born with approximately 20% of central vision, with large blind spots, but his sight has since deteriorated.

The member of the GB para climbing team says all he wants to do now is sleep.

The ascent was filmed by Alastair Lee and will be shown in the Brit Rock Film Tour this autumn.

Image copyright MOLLY THOMPSON
Image caption Jesse Dufton's partner, photographer Molly Thompson, assisted him during the climb.

Jesse told BBC Radio Orkney: "I got it 'clean', which means you don't pull on any pieces of gear. You don't fall off. So that's good. And it's an amazing climb.

"The most difficult bit is coming out of a feature called 'The Coffin'. Once you've done that, you feel tired. "But you get a good sense of satisfaction when you do it nice and clean."

His partner Molly Thompson - who is sighted - climbed with Jesse and assisted with the climb. He said: "Molly is kind enough to use a radio to shout out what she can see from below.

But if there's a bulge, like there is on the Old Man at the bottom of the most difficult pitch, she can't see exactly where I am because there's a piece of rock in the way.

"So I'm pretty much on my own for those sections."

Image copyright MOLLY THOMPSON
Image caption The Old Man is a sea stack off Hoy in Orkney
Image copyright MOLLY THOMPSON
Image caption The couple camped at Rackwick Bay in Hoy before the attempt

So, what's next for the pair?

"I don't know, is the honest answer. We've been banging round some ideas. Maybe something in winter. Go and do some frozen waterfalls, or something like that.

"Part of the thing I enjoy is the challenge - both physical and mental. Some people question why I don't go climbing on an indoor climbing wall.

"But in that type of climbing you don't need to do any of the rope work, placing your own protection, controlling your fear. And, for me, that's a large part of the challenge, and therefore the satisfaction of completing it."

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