A Scottish man and his team have become the first to ascend famed sea stack on the UK’s most remote islands in 133 years.
Robbie Phillips and his team set out to search for the famed, but elusive, climb “The Thumb” which has captured the imagination of explorers for hundreds of years.
The 33-year-old climber spoke about the team’s “hugely significant” achievement calling it an example of “highly technical rock climbing in a time well before the Victorian era, which is when most climbing historians say that technical rock climbing began.”
“To have such a critical piece of climbing history in Scotland as well is hugely special to myself as a Scottish climber. This is a unique glimpse into the past that connects us in a meaningful way.
“That’s why climbing is special, you can experience things exactly as the St Kildans did, albeit hundreds of years apart,” he added.
Mr Phillips said their journey was like “walking in the footsteps or climbing in the fingerprints of St Kildans, adding that their experience was “a testament to their bravery and mental fortitude, to climb onto that seastack 70m above the raging Atlantic and without shoes is wild to imagine”.
The St Kilda archipelago, which has been in the care of the National Trust for Scotland since 1957, is one of the most remote climbs in the UK, located 110 miles from the Scottish mainland deep into the Atlantic Ocean.
The location of the climb had been a mystery until 1890 when Richard Manliffe Barrington completed a climb on Stac Briorach, which locals nicknamed “The Thumb”.
Before that, the climb was first documented by Gaelic speaker and writer Martin Martin in 1698 in his book “A late voyage to St Kilda”.
Susan Bain, the National Trust for Scotland’s Property Manager for St Kilda, said: “As a conservation charity, we are focused on protecting the wildlife and culture of St Kilda and we were very happy to work with Robbie and his team to make sure that the climb didn’t disturb any nesting seabirds or impact the landscape in any way.
“As a professional climber Robbie had the skills and the back-up to attempt this climb safely, but it’s important to emphasise that the landscape of St Kilda can be very challenging and everyone should be very mindful of its dangers as well as its beauty.
“It is humbling to think about the St Kildans climbing this stack without modern equipment and communications.”
STV News is now on WhatsApp
Get all the latest news from around the countryFollow STV News
Follow STV News on WhatsApp
Scan the QR code on your mobile device for all the latest news from around the country