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Tuesday, August 14, 2007

5.13 Death Route: Live!

This is either going to be the most boring event ever televised or the most gripping. Depending on when you tune in, it might be both.

On Saturday, August 18, BBC Scotland will broadcast The Great Climb, featuring four ascents in the Cairngorm Mountains, with live coverage from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. local time (6 a.m. to 1 p.m. Mountain time). Shorter versions will air nationwide in Great Britain, and the show will be webcast at the interactive Great Climb website . The idea is to feature several well-known climbers, including Barry Blanchard (Canada), Ed February (South Africa), Ben Heason (England), and Araceli Segarra (Spain), climbing a variety of multipitch granite routes, from easy to moderately desperate. But the showpiece will be Dave MacLeod and Dave Cuthbertson's attempt to climb a hard and dangerous new route on live television. (The Great Climb is modeled after a famous BBC film of the first ascent of Scotland's Old Man of Hoy 40 years ago.) Last spring, MacLeod climbed the hardest traditional route in the world, Rhapsody, an unprotected extension to a crack climb in Scotland established 23 years earlier by Cuthbertson. For the TV show, MacLeod was thinking about trying a very stout route rated E8 or E9 (poorly protected 5.13), but last week, as he outlines at his blog, he discovered an unclimbed line that would go at roughly E10—that translates to hard 5.13 with a ground-fall if you blow it, as seen MacLeod's Telustrator image above.

It's hard to imagine ESPN ponying up hundreds of thousands of dollars to broadcast, say, Chris Sharma going bolt to bolt on a new route on live television for six hours straight. ESPN banished climbing from the X Games because it was so boring to watch. Yet the Scottish show might be compelling. They've got good characters and several climbs to intercut, for one, and of course there's the vicarious gripfest of watching someone try an unclimbed route with potentially fatal consequences. It's like Nascar in slow motion.

As a practical matter, the Scottish weather likely will prevent any such madness. The forecast for Saturday is for wind and rain, following nearly a week of crag-soaking rain. But, just in case, I might have to get up early and watch for a while.


Boo said...

What won't be boring is the new film King Lines: Chris Sharma's Search for the Planet's Greatest Climbs. Coming in September and October - check out

Anonymous said...

Hello, everyone's keeping their fingers crossed that the weather will be favourable for the climbers. Visitors to your site might like to know that the entire climb will be streamed at . There will be an online only stream from 1100-1230 then the full six hours from 1300.

Keir, at the Great Climb website

karteek said...

very nice
its amaging that there is still black magic on earth we enterd in 21st century