The Old Man of Hoy

In a very wet summer of 2014 Andy was asked to cover Sir Chris Bonnington’s attempt to re-climb his famous route on The Old Man of Hoy, one of, if not the, most spectacular, remote and adventurous Trad climbs in Britain. Sir Chris originally made the climb in 1965 and again in 1966 for the BBC’s most audacious live broadcast involving a huge amount of crew, equipment and the British Army.

This time the climb was to mark Sir Chris’ 80th Birthday.  Chris was joined by his friend Leo Houlding, one of  the world’s top climbers with new ascent around the world including the Antarctic.

Chris and Leo invited Andy to be the 3rd member of their partnership. This was a chance to not only meet but climb with two living legends of the climbing world.

The Old Man of Hoy is a seasick of just under 500 feet that towers off the coast of the island of Hoy in the Orkneys. It’s a 5 pitch route, often damp and greasy and covered in Fulmars who hide on small ledges and puke on passing climbers (it’s a defence mechanism).

The weather window was 3 days and after 2 of constant rain and wind the team went for it despite the weather still being wet and windy. With the extra filming required it took most of the day to complete the 2-hour walk in, climb the route and make the 4 abseils down to the bottom.

The Old Man of Hoy was Andy’s favourite climbing route in Britain. It’s remote, rarely trafficked, wild, multi pitch and Trad. It represents the best of British Adventure climb. And to climb it with two greats of the climbing community made it Andy’s all time favourite climb.

The adventure became a two-part special for BBC1’s The One Show.

  • UK
  • 14.07.2014

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