BBC Scotland’s highly acclaimed Adventure Show has recently been filming for a special programme on the Isle of Handa in Sutherland and at Ness on Lewis.
Three of Scotland’s top climbers, Dave MacLeod, Dave Cuthbertson and Donald King, have been staging a reconstruction of the first ascent of the Great Stac of Handa by three men from Lewis in 1876. Using authentic clothing and equipment from the time, the team wanted to fully understand the skill and daring of the original party. However there was one crucial difference from the first ascent - unlike the original men who risked death in their to get to the summit of the stack, today’s climbers would only undertake the feat using a safety rope for protection.
The film, made by Inverness-shire based Triple Echo Productions who last year produced the hugely successful Great Climb on Harris, shows how the first ascent was completed and how the techniques used by the Lewis men were years ahead of their time.
“The film has another significance.” said producer, Richard Else. “It’s generally said that modern climbing was invented in the English Lake District with an ascent of Napes Needle in 1886, but this audacious feat by Donald MacDonald, Malcolm MacDonald and a third member of the party whose name is lost to history, shows that climbing was really a Scottish invention. Whilst we know that people in the Outer Isles climbed for birds and their eggs, this is the first recorded climb that was done for pleasure. It’s an achievement of outstanding significance.”
The First Great Climb will be shown later this year on BBC Scotland and Richard is sure that people will be spell bound by the daring and dangerous nature of an event that, until now, has been largely forgotten.