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The Old Man of Hoy
Orkney Islands, Scotland
Earth's Natural Wonders in Europe & Middle East
 
The Old Man of Hoy is a 449 feet (137 m) sea stack of red sandstone perched on a plinth of Igneous Basalt rock, close to Rackwick Bay on the west coast of the island of Hoy, in the Orkney Islands, Scotland. It is a distinctive landmark seen from the Thurso to Stromness ferry, MV Hamnavoe, and is a famous rock climb. It is close to another famous site, The Dwarfie Stane.
 
The Old Man of Hoy, seen from the south[1]

 

History

The Old Man of Hoy, seen from the southThe Old Man is probably fewer than 400 years old and may not get much older, as there are indications that it may soon collapse. On maps drawn between 1600 and 1750 the area appears as a headland with no sea stack. William Daniell, a landscape painter, sketched the sea stack in 1817,as a wider column with a smaller top section and an arch at the base, from which it derived its name. A print of this drawing is still available in local museums. Sometime in the early 19th century, a storm washed away one of the legs leaving it much as it is today although erosion continues.

The Old Man appears in the "Trailer sketch" of the Monty Python's Flying Circus episode "Archaeology Today" in which the voiceover Eric Idle states that singer Lulu climbs the Old Man. It also appears in the opening scene of the video to the Eurythmics' 1984 hit song "Here Comes the Rain Again".

Climbing records

The Old Man of HoyThe stack was first climbed in 1966 by Chris Bonington, Rusty Baillie and Tom Patey over a period of three days, 13 years after Mount Everest was tackled. On 8-9 July 1967 an ascent was featured in a live BBC outside broadcasting, which had around 15 million viewers over the three-night period of the broadcast . This featured three pairs of climbers: Bonington and Patey repeated their original route, whilst two new lines were climbed - by Joe Brown and Ian McNaught-Davis; and by Pete Crew and Dougal Haston.

On 8 September 2006 the stack was climbed by Sir Ranulph Fiennes (aged 62) in preparation for his proposed climb of the Eiger in the following year. He was accompanied by Sandy Ogilvie and Stephen Venables.

The stack now has a number of climbing routes, but the vast majority of ascents, of which there are 20 - 50 in an average year, are by the original and easiest route at the British grade of E1 - one route being an E6. A small RAF log book in a Tupperware container is buried in a cairn on the summit and serves as an ascensionists' record.

Evidence from the original 1960s ascents is still present on the stack, in the form of a collection of wooden wedges hammered into the vertical corner crack of the second pitch. The belays consist of natural threads and wedged ironmongery, including (in 1994) a snow 'deadman' anchor forced into a crack. Some parties chose to divide the second pitch into two, bringing the second around to the base of the overhanging crack to belay from a hanging stance to keep the remainder of the pitch 'straight'. Care must be taken on the descent abseil at this point as it is relatively easy to jam the ropes on retrieval, and a stash of abandoned ropes cut from the stack bears testimony to this fact.

BASE jump
On the morning of 16 May 2008 it was announced on BBC Radio Orkney that the first BASE jump was performed off of the top by Roger Holmes, Gus Hutchinson-Brown and Tim Emmett. The jump took over three years of planning. A youtube video of the jump can be watched here.

One of the people who did the jump, Gus Hutchinson-Brown, died a month later during an unrelated jump in Switzerland. [2]

 

robexpeditionguide
May 07, 2008

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References
 
1.Wikimedia Commons-Old Man of Hoy-retrieved 1/21/10
2. Wikipedia-Old Man of Hoy-retrieved 1/21/10
 
 
 
 
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