The Long Hope is a great film. The way it plots the history of ascents on this remote and impressive Orkney sea cliff gives an insight into the development of hard rock climbing over the last 40 years in the UK.

Dave MacLeod wrote in his blog the day after he freed the route …

‘The Longhope route was first climbed as an aid route by Ed Drummond and Oliver Hill in 1970. After climbing it yesterday I have a doubly renewed respect for the boldness of climbers of that period. To venture up that cliff without cams, taking the steepest line possible was a hardcore effort. They spent 7 days climbing the route, sleeping in hammocks or in the big sandstone breaks with the fulmars. Dawes and Dunne both had a look at freeing it, albeit briefly. It was the adventure trad master John Arran, and sea cliff guru Dave Turnbull who really went for the free ascent. Over two days, they freed the lower pitches with a bivi in between and then bailed off left. A few months later, they returned, abseiling from the summit of the stack to their highpoint and climbing four more pitches to the top across another two days.

But they considered Drummond’s A2 crack pitch up the centre of the overhanging headwall too hard for free climbing, which it really was given that they were climbing ground up and the pitch was going to be in the region of E10 in itself. So they climbed the big grooves to the left, traversing back in after a couple of pitches to climb the last 8 metres of the crack, which was the crux of their version which went at E7 6c after lots of tries.’

Dave partnered by Andy Turner eventually succeeded after a drawn out epic and lots of trips up to the Orkney.

He describes the last pitch.

‘Climbing it in a day was the big deal for the difficulty of the route. I knew the crux pitch,65 metres long and around 8b+ish with some long runouts would feel about 90% of my limit. But could I climb the 400 odd metres below without losing 10% of the strength in my arms.

With this in mind and swallowing a lot of nerves, I launched up the pitch for an all out fight with no inhibitions or hesitation. On the final crux before joining John Arran’s E7 section,  All I could see was the outline of the jug above me. I grabbed it and screamed with utter relief. All that was needed was to use a bit of experience to hold it together and scrap my way through The E7 part, the final roofs and the final fulmars to the summit.’

The climb was filmed and photographed during the ascent, over 2 weeks by, Paul DiffleyLukasz WarzechaMatt Pycroft, Claire MacLeod, Guy Heaton and Mariam Pousa.

The Long Hope won the Peoples Choice award at Kendal Mountain Festival … I think the audience got it right, in my opinion it is the best climbing film I have seen this year.

The film the The Long Hope is available to download from SteepEdge.

Brian Hall

Comments are closed.