Thursday, March 1, 2012

Climbing St Johns Head - A feat for the Fearless

Ordinary people watch the brave to attempt things that have never been attempted before or are too scary to be attempted by a few brave men. Such brave men have scaled K2, though second highest after Everest, but much more difficult and killing. While such feats are for the professional mountaineers involving lot of funds and efforts, there are places all around the world that take individuals to test their fearlessness and bravery.

St Johns Head, Hoy, Orkney, Scotland.

St Johns Head, Hoy, Orkney, Scotland [Photo: John Dera / Flickr ]

One such place is the St Johns Head, a 346 metres or 1150 feet sheer vertical cliff that lies 3km to the north-east of the Old Man of Hoy. When looking from down below, one may not feel the awe and fear, but when standing atop the Head, one's heart murmurs and may even skip a few beats.

The Head was first climbed in 1970 by climber and poet Ed Drummond together with Oliver Hill. They took 7 days to climb the cliff, sleeping on ledges and in hammocks along the way. Now, 40 years later, one of the World's top climbers, Dave MacLeod, sets out to climb the cliff in a single day, finishing with a new desperately hard final pitch up the head wall.

Screen shot of video of MacLeod climbing the St Johns Head
And what is more: Dave became the first person to ever free-climb - using just his hands and feet with ropes only as a safety precaution.

 MacLeod  climbing the cliff with bear hands
People may ask what is so different with St Johns Head as there are many sheer cliffs all around the world. Well for many reasons, these clifffs are different; for one there is a strong coastal gale that blows with its fearsome intensity the whole year long. Then its more rainy than other places of the world besides the overhang.

Watch the video below of the MacLeod's adventure to scale the st Johns Head with bare hands:

If you ever happen to be visiting Hoy, Scotland, do drop by to see these sheer cliffs and the St Johns Head - may be you find MacLeod or any climber or fearless adventurer inching his way upwards with the power of his bare hands and legs. This is the world of adventure and achievement. 

But before I finish this post, may  ask do you anything about the Trango Towers - the most sheer and highest verticals in the world? If not, do read my post "Trango Towers - the Most Sheer Verticals of the World." You will be amazed to find the enormity of these verticals and the courage of those brave men and women who attempt these in the most remote and desolate mountains in the Karakorams in Pakistan.