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Last Updated: Friday, 17 August 2007, 08:36 GMT 09:36 UK
Big nerves ahead of Great Climb
By David Harron
TV sports editor, BBC Scotland

Shelter Stone
Climbers will tackle the Shelter Stone (Pic: Triple Echo Productions)

As the hours tick down to our landmark broadcast The Great Climb, it is hard not to be gripped by both a great sense of excitement but also a nagging and growing sense of fear.

Many programme makers get nervous before big shows, even when there are few risks and certainly no physical danger involved.

But I would argue some justification in this case - given that not many shows are live, in High Definition (HD), six hours long and involve crew and production team spending many hours in a beautiful but extremely remote location.

And of course that's before we even consider the daunting rock faces that our world A-list of climbers will be taking on.

The Great Climb is a fully HD broadcast from the stunning Loch A'an basin deep in the Cairngorms National Park.

Eight of the world's top climbers will attempt some hugely testing routes on the imposing Shelter Stone and Hell's Lum crags.

It will climax with Scotland's top climber, Dave Macleod, trying to get himself up a dauntingly difficult new route on Hell's Lum, and will also include features on the local landscape, environment, hills and wildlife.

In particular, the environmental messages are key - in order to secure the permission of the RSPB, on whose Abernethy Reserve the crags can be found, we agreed to abide by a "leave no trace" policy to protect this fragile mountain environment.

Cairngorms (Pic: Triple Echo Productions)
Our aim is to provide a unique mix of physical drama and spectacular scenery

This involves us walking some of the kit and personnel in, reassembling the most lightweight equipment we can find on site and using only limited helicopter flights for the most bulky loads.

It's provided many a challenge for Triple Echo, the production company making the show for us - and the team from BBC Scotland Resources.

Ultimately our aim is to provide a unique mix of physical drama and spectacular scenery, mixed in with narratives and messages about the local habitat and environment.

As someone whose favourite place in the world is Assynt, I am delighted that the appeal of the gorgeous Scottish outdoors has never been greater, a fact reflected not just in the commissioning of The Great Climb, but also in programmes such as The Adventure Show, Tir Is Teanga and Mountain.

Hopefully as well as delivering a spectacular watch we will also show that the hills need a bit of respect as well.

Now I just need to hope we don't get rained off or that anyone falls too far.

The Great Climb was due to go ahead on BBC2 Scotland from 1300 - 1905 BST on Saturday, 18 August, but was abandoned because of bad weather.

Climbers and crew prepare for the live broadcast


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