As some of you may be aware, Sir Chris Bonington has just successfully repeated one of his most famous climbs, just weeks after turning 80. Alongside Leo Houlding he climbed the Old Man of Hoy yesterday on the Orkney Islands to raise awareness and funds for motor neurone disease (MND) charities in memory of his wife Wendy, who died of the condition last month.
The climb was the fruition of an idea that Leo himself came up with many years ago. The Old Man of Hoy has great sentimental value for both of our athletes, Chris was the first person to climb it in 1966 and Leo still retains the title of the youngest person to have ever climbed it, aged 11 (only 6 months after he started climbing).
Matt Hickman who has been up there for the week comments:
“ I was fortunate enough to witness a truly iconic moment, it was both emotional and exhilarating watching the climb pan out and hearing the sound bites coming through on the radio. It’s been a hard year for Chris but his strength of character prevailed. He is such an inspiration and a legend that we are blessed to work alongside”
“The climb wasn’t straightforward and Chris showed real courage to complete it. As well as it being technically difficult, the weather conditions were far from perfect. The wind started to pick up considerably and rain was a constant factor all day. Chris and Leo both commented that the crux pitch was very wet, making it a struggle to find grip.
After the climb Chris commented:
“I am exhausted, but very happy. Climbing with Leo is always a pleasure and his support certainly helped me get up the more difficult sections. I’m definitely not as lithe or flexible as I was in the 1960s!
“It was a very emotional moment at the top. I was delighted to have completed the climb, but of course I was also thinking about Wendy, who was my rock during all of my previous trips, whether near or far. I hope that people who hear about this climb will take the time to find out a bit more about motor neurone disease and help us to raise some money to fund research into finding a cure.”
“the old man was amazing on the Old Man. Chris was a hero of mine as I grew up and I’m now lucky enough to be able to call him a good friend. I’ve seen the footage of the 1967 outside broadcast – it was one of the iconic moments in British climbing and fired the imagination of the public, of people like me. It has been a great privilege to return to Hoy with Chris, who never fails to amaze me with his appetite for adventure. Oh, and he can certainly still climb very well. Is he really 80?”
The BBC have filmed the whole climb and plan to show a short film on the ‘The One Show’ in due course, we’ll keep you updated with news on that.
Congratulations to them both, an outstanding achievement!
More pictures will be added shortly: