Wednesday, 17 April 2013

The Cioch

Just over 20 years ago, I was heading off into the Black Cuillin to climb the Cioch: a famous rock nose which protrudes from the cliff of Sron na Ciche. It's an awesome place, and one which I'd always wanted to get to - earlier that week, I'd also climbed the Inaccessible Pinnacle: another place ticked off... At the time I did quite a lot of climbing.

The rock outcrop featured in the film Highlander.

Here's a few pictures of our journey that day, rescued from an old photo album. I travelled and climbed with Simon (who now lives in Wellington) and Caroline.
We had a great day for it - bright and clear and a bit chilly.

We walked up into the shadow of Sron na Ciche, then made our way onto the ledge, from which we could do the climb up to the Cioch itself. We were lucky that there were few other people in the area, so we didn't have to wait. The 2nd photo shows the Cioch taken from further up into the gully. You can see the massive exposure and tremendous situation. I'd also done some of the climbs before the Cioch on previous trips to Skye.

The bottom image shows me climbing the slab: I'm near the top on the left hand side, and mid-way up on the right, and in the middle is me modelling my Rohan gear, which I still have (and my wife hates with a passion).... sadly my yellow and black hat went missing a while back...

At 8pm tonight, Nicholas Crane follows in my footsteps, albeit dressed in something other than Rohan...

Nick Crane heads to his beloved Western Isles in Scotland to attempt a daunting, long-coveted, mountaineering challenge on the Isle of Skye. For years, Nick has dreamed of climbing the fearsome Cioch. This singular and impressive spear of rock, the scene for a spectacular sword fight in the film Highlander, was only conquered for the first time in 1906. The men who originally attempted the hazardous route to its summit were an unlikely pair - John Mackenzie, a Scottish mountain guide, and Norman Collie, an English professor of chemistry - but their joint endeavour would bind them into a 30 year friendship. Nick uses Victorian mountaineering gear as he attempts to follow in the footsteps of Mackenzie and Collie and climb the Cioch for himself. Along the way he learns something of the triumph and tragedy of their lives, but Nick's reward at the climax of the hazardous ascent comes with the discovery of a new favourite view, an incredible seascape framed by Britain's most glorious coastal peaks.

Still available to watch again on iPlayer at the time of writing...

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