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Home ยป Boy, Aged Seven, Climbs Old Man Of Hoy Sea Stack

Boy, Aged Seven, Climbs Old Man Of Hoy Sea Stack

Image caption, Cody with his dad Bill Weishaar Jr on top of the Old Man of Hoy

By Linda Sinclair

BBC Scotland News

A seven-year-old boy from America is believed to have become the youngest person to climb the Old Man of Hoy, off the coast of Orkney.

Cody Weishaar scaled the 449ft (137m) sea stack with his father and three of his friends in early August.

The previous youngest was Edward Mills who climbed the Old Man at the age of eight in 2018.

The Weishaar family moved to Ayrshire from Missouri and have been exploring climbing routes around Scotland.

Image caption, Bill Weishaar Jr described the sea stack as looking like a “skyscraper in New York but made of stone”

Cody’s father, Bill Weishaar Jr, described the sea stack as looking like a “skyscraper in New York but made of stone”.

He said he was beside his young son on a separate rope offering words of advice as they both climbed the sandstone stack.

Cody told BBC Scotland News he was a bit scared at one stage as he did not want to make a jump off a boulder.

But after he managed to make the move he said he felt proud of himself.

Dan Bailey, who is the editor of UK Hillwalking, said it was the biggest sea stack in the UK.

He said: “I’m very impressed that any seven-year-old could physically get up The Old Man of Hoy and mentally manage the head game. I mean that’s a real achievement.”

Image caption, Seven-year-old Cody climbing the Old Man of Hoy

Mr Bailey said climbing on any sea cliff could be an overwhelming experience.

“You’ve got the wind, you’ve got the waves crashing, seabirds wheeling around,” he said.

The fulmars, who nest on the ledges on the stack, have a defence mechanism where they vomit a red, oily substance at climbers, who they see as intruders.

Cody said: “This bird had a really good aim and it spat on my face, right on my cheek.”

“At least he didn’t poop on me,” he added.

Image caption, The climbing party on top of The Old Man of Hoy

Image caption, Cody Weishaar as a baby on an early climbing trip

Mr Weishaar, who owns a sport climbing attraction back home in America, said the bid to the reach the top almost never happened as the group were facing the decision to abandon the climb in order get the ferry back to the mainland in time.

But during the climb he received a phone call from the ferry company to say their sailing from Orkney to Caithness had been cancelled due to a forecasted storm that evening.

That meant they could all continue their climb.

Before they even got to the start of the climb, they had to go down a steep cliff and then navigate what Bill says were “boulders the size of cars”.

Cody started climbing at the age of two and already has a number of impressive sea stack climbs under his belt, including the equally daunting Old Man of Stoer in Sutherland.

He has now set himself a fresh target off climbing some of the other 10 tallest sea stacks around the coastline of Scotland.

What is the Old Man of Hoy?

Image source, Getty Images

The Old Man of Hoy is one of Orkney’s most famous landmarks.

The 449ft (137m) sea stack is formed of old red sandstone and stands close to Rackwick Bay on the west coast of the island of Hoy.

It is one of the UK’s tallest sea stacks and can be seen from the Scrabster to Stromness ferry.

It is popular with climbers and was first climbed by the UK’s most famous mountaineer Sir Chris Bonington in 1966.

He and colleague Tom Patey returned the following year and were part of the famous three-night live TV broadcast, The Great Climb.

It was one of the most audacious BBC outside broadcasts ever undertaken. About 15 million people watched as the climbers ascended the spectacular stack.

Sixteen tons of equipment were ferried 450 miles from the Firth of Clyde to Hoy in army landing craft to allow the programme to be filmed and broadcast live.

Since then hundreds of people have made it to the top, including eight-year-old Edward Mills, the previous youngest person to climb it, and Jesse Dufton, the first blind climber to lead an ascent.

In 2014, Sir Chris marked his 80th birthday by returning to Orkney to climb the Old Man of Hoy 48 years after his first ascent.

Three years later, German adventurer Alexander Schulz become the first person to walk to and from the summit of the Old Man of Hoy on a high wire.