Even if you have not been to Orkney, you will most probably know the sight of the Old Man of Hoy, a sandstone sea stack on the island of Hoy. And if you have seen it, you might think climbing it is the most extreme challenge ever. Well, there are those who think otherwise.
A certain German national, Alexander Schulz, decided that climbing it would indeed be a challenge, but the real challenge would be… to return on a tightrope. His friends and himself climbed the top of the stack and fixed a line there. A line whose other end was anchored on the island. When they decided that the line was safe – also to the rather delicate and weathered sandstone Old Man – Alexander Schulz stepped onto it. Before him was a 180-metre walk, below him – 137 metres of air. With rocks and ocean waves underneath. The task was made even more difficult by gusty wind, which you can expect here most of the time.
Schulz’s achievement was the first ever such tightrope walk in this place, and according to the climber himself, one of the toughest. He had made much longer walks before, he said, but the tightrope return from the Old Man of Hoy required an absolute, 100-percent concentration. Well, it seems enough to imagine the sight of the waves hitting the rocks over a hundred metres below you to know what he means. He says he had to “go inside himself and find a calm point” to be able to overcome his fear. The One Inch Dreams group that he belongs to has made numerous other spectacular tightrope walks, including that between two cable cars on Zugspitze in the Alps, one over the Great Canyon and one in the Greek Meteora.
Orkney is an archipelago located off the north-eastern shores of Scotland, some ten miles away from the cliffs of the British mainland. The sandstone Old Man of Hoy is situated on the island of Hoy, one of the southernmost island of the group, the second largest in Orkney. Relatively flat – apart from Hoy – and with practically no trees, Orkney is exposed to the ruthless northern Atlantic. It is the home to two whisky distilleries – Scapa and Highland Park – and a couple breweries.
A short video of Schulz’s stunt can be watched on YouTube. The historic walk took place last Sunday, July 9th, 2017.
[Photo: Clemens Augustin/One Inch Dreams]