Sir Chris Bonington and Leo Holding prepare for their attempt on the Old Man of Hoy. Photo: Berghaus

Sir Chris Bonington and Leo Holding prepare for their attempt on the Old Man of Hoy. Photo: Berghaus

One of the elder statesmen of British mountaineering is planning to repeat a historic climb – at the age of 80.

Sir Chris Bonington celebrated reaching his octogenarian milestone earlier this month and said he had an adventure up his sleeve.

He revealed he is on his way to climb the Old Man of Hoy, the imposing sea stack off the Orcadian island on which he posted a first ascent 48 years ago.

The mountaineer, who went on to summit Everest and lead numerous expeditions in the Greater Ranges, was accompanied on his first climb of the stack by Rusty Baillie and Tom Patey.

A year later, he repeated the climb in a live televised broadcast with Patey, while Joe Brown, Ian McNaught-Davis, Pete Crew and Dougal Haston climbed new routes on the rock.

This time his climbing buddy will be Leo Houlding, who also ascended the Old Man of Hoy in his youth.

Outdoor brand Berghaus, of which Sir Chris is chairman, said the pair are currently in northern Scotland preparing for the climb and said today conditions were right to start the ascent.

The pair are ready to attempt the climb. Leo Houlding said: ““Weather’s looking all right. Sir Old Man on Hoy here we go!”

Matt Hickman of Berghaus is with Bonington and Houlding and said: “The whole team is psyched. Chris is in great spirits and has his sights set on leading the final pitch as he did in 66.”

The Old Man of Hoy. Photo: Grinner CC-BY-SA-3.0

The Old Man of Hoy. Photo: Grinner CC-BY-SA-3.0

Sir Chris has been a major player in the UK mountaineering scene, posting the first British ascent of the North Face of the Eiger and the first ascent of The Ogre in Pakistan.

The latter involved fellow climber Doug Scott breaking both legs and Chris suffering fractured ribs and the ascent was not replicated for 24 years.

He summited Everest at the age of 50 after leading and taking part in four previous expeditions to the world’s highest mountain.

Sir Chris started climbing in 1951 at the age of 16. He has undertaken and led 19 Himalayan expeditions

He has written 17 books and fronted numerous television programmes.

He has also lectured to the public and corporate audiences all over the world. Bonington received a knighthood in 1996 for services to mountaineering.

Sir Chris Bonington has also been active in the outdoor community, with roles in the British Mountaineering Council, Outdoor Industries Association, Council for National Parks, the Outward Bound Trust and, most recently, the Friends of Blencathra.

He will be fundraising for motor neurone disease charities in memory of his wife Wendy, who died of the condition last month.

Sir Chris said: ““I’m apprehensive having reached the age of 80 and having had all too little climbing in recent months because of my wife’s illness.”

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