BBC scales new heights of live broadcasting

The spectacular and remote crags of Cairngorms National Park will provide the venue for a series of breathtaking live ascents this summer in a world first for Scottish broadcasting.Featuring an A–list of the world’s top climbers in six hours of television programming, shot in full High Definition from the stunning Loch Avon basin, The Great Climb is one of the most ambitious productions ever undertaken by BBC Scotland and is produced by Triple Echo.

Using the imposing Shelterstone and Hell’s Lum crags on the RSPB’s Abernethy Nature Reserve, the programme will also set new standards for filming in wilderness environments because of the extreme sensitivity and fragility of the mountain location.Surrounded by towering cliffs of alpine magnitude and containing some of the most precious upland habitats in Europe the area is like nowhere else in Britain – a little bit of the Arctic surviving deep in the Scottish Highlands.

Four teams of two climbers will make the ascents, including at least one daunting new route during the marathon show, which will transmit from 1-7pm on 18 August on BBC Two Scotland. BBC Two network and the on–trial BBC HD channel will also transmit an hour of coverage from 4.55-5.55 pm, and up to 15 hours will be available live on the web.

Working closely with conservation agencies, The Great Climb is being produced for BBC Scotland by Triple Echo, who are experienced at working in remote and sensitive habitats.Permission for the ground–breaking programme was granted on the basis that the producers agree a leave–no–trace commitment to protect the fragile local environment, with much equipment being flown in to prevent any erosion to the mountain trails and rare plant communities that live on them.

The programme also marks something of an anniversary for the BBC – it is 40 years since Chris Bonington and fellow climbers of the day were filmed making their legendary ascent of the Old Man of Hoy and millions of viewers tuned in over three days to watch the epic climb.Scotland’s own Dave MacLeod – who recently put up the hardest traditional rock climb in the world – will take on the daring new route for 2007’s The Great Climb.

Other climbers who will be filmed on the dramatic and risky ascents include some of the world’s greatest climbers. They comprise Dave ‘Cubby’ Cuthbertson, the leading Scottish climber of his generation; South African, Ed February; and Canada’s leading Alpinist, Barry Blanchard.

They’ll be joined by Graham Ettle, Duncan McCallum and Spanish model and climber who featured in the Everest IMAX movie, Araceli Segarra.

David Harron, Editor, TV Sport at BBC Scotland, said: “This is the most exciting project we have commissioned for a long time and promises to offer a unique mix of physical drama, spectacular scenery, cutting edge technical innovation and narratives about the local landscape.

“We are hugely energised about what will be a landmark programme and a genuine world first for BBC Scotland.”

Richard Else, producer Triple Echo, said: “Living in the shadows of Cairngorms National Park I know at first hand what an incredibly special and precious environment this is. To be able to offer a world class broadcast of leading edge climbing from right in the heart of the park is an enormous privilege.”

Jeremy Roberts, site manager at the RSPB’s Abernethy Nature Reserve, said: “This is a fabulously exciting project which we believe celebrates the value of Cairngorms National Park for its stunning wildlife, habitats, walks and climbs.

“Triple Echo and the BBC have worked incredibly hard to meet our very strict conditions to leave no trace of their activities and therefore we have been happy to help this project proceed. The bold ascents will take place on crags that lie within RSPB’s Abernethy nature reserve – a site that is of huge importance to our 1 million members across the UK for its iconic Highland wildlife and breathtaking scenery.

“For the same reasons it is also of massive value to people all over the UK who come to walk and climb in the beautiful surroundings of the park. We were keen to bring these two interests together whilst at the same time ensuring that there was no threat to this sensitive and vulnerable environment.”

David Green, Convener of the Cairngorms National Park Authority, said: “We are delighted that the Cairngorms National Park has been chosen to host the Great Climb. The Park offers some of the most challenging yet rewarding climbing in Britain and the public will be able to experience that thanks to this exciting programme.

“The team has chosen a fantastic location – the area around Loch Avon is popular with climbers, both for its views and the quality of its routes. It will be particularly interesting to see ascents of both classic and new routes.

“The Great Climb will also help to raise awareness and understanding of the park. The team’s commitment to leave-no-trace will help viewers appreciate that the park is an important area that can be enjoyed, but in a responsible manner.

“We wish everyone involved in this project every success and hope that it encourages the public to experience their own adventures.”

Leave a Reply