Today Dave MacLeod & Tim Emmett attempted a hard first ascent on the 600' overhanging Sron Uladail on the Isle of Harris, live in front of the cameras. This BBC open air broadcast harks back to the days of Bonnington, Patey and co on the Old Man of Hoy in 1967 which attracted 15 million viewers. The epic today made gripping viewing with heavy rain, wind, falls (and some truly shocking belaying) with the outcome in doubt to the very end. The route climbed through extremely steep terrain with the whole crag overhanging 150' in 600 feet. An amazing effort by the Dave, Tim and the whole camera team. You can watch the whole five and a half hours again on the BBC iPlayer
With a view to using kites on polar journeys in the future I headed down to Walney Island to complete a kite surfing course with Gary at North West Kitesurfing. Conditions were far from ideal with 20 knot winds gusting to 28 but it did give us plenty of practice at water launches in the afternoon. The initial sessions were on dry land with 1.5m two string kites to introduce and develop kite control. We also looked at rigging and emergency pack ups with the larger LEIs we'd be using. After lunch we moved into the water exploring water launches and body dragging. Even a relatively small 7m canopy was enough to drag two of us through the water with plenty of speed - until the harness attachment broke in a particularly violent gust!
This week I've been back working on a personal development course for Outward Bound Ullswater, my old stomping ground. I've had 8 youngsters on an Adventure week aiming to stretch and challenge them and introduce some useful life skills. A couple of highlights have been canoe sailing down Ullswater in a good force 4, battling high water levels in Glenridding Beck and a stunning camp on the summit of Helvellyn after a challenging days walk. All in all a great week and great to have the opportunity to do this sort of work again.
Ed Stafford has finally completed his epic journey, walking the length of the Amazon. This stunning expedition took him a total of 859 days and is fully described through his blogs on his Walking the Amazon site which I've been following with interest. This is an amazing achievement which has taken a huge amount of commitment and self determination to complete. I had the pleasure of teaching Ed on a winter mountaineering course a number of years ago - not much use in the jungle but I hope it helped a little bit as he and Luke Collier climbed to the source of the Amazon, the summit of the 5597m Nevado Mismi at the beginning of their journey. Huge congratulations to Ed.