Between a Rock and a Hard Place – Rockall Solo gets underway

As Nick Hancock prepares for his record breaking expedition to the island of Rockall, WLPGA interviews this intrepid British explorer.

WLPGA:  Nick we’re nearing the expedition date, when is the actual date and how long will it take to reach Rockall?

NH:  I will be leaving Edinbugh for Uig on Skye on the 27th May, then I will be catching the ferry over to the Isle of Harris on the 28th. Once there, we’ll wait for a good weather window, and it will take 12 hours to reach Rockall from Leverburgh.

WLPGA: How are you preparing physically for the expedition ?

NH:  Physically, I have been eating lots as I fully expect to lose weight whilst I am on Rockall. I have also been weight training as I will have to be strong enough for both the climb up the rock and then be able to man-haul some of the initial kit, including the winch, up the cliff face.

WLPGA: How do you think LP Gas will help you survive in these extreme conditions?

NH:  Food and warmth are vitally important, not just to survive, but also for morale. Having LP Gas with me will enable me to have warm drinks and heat my food on the occasions when I am particularly down or cold.

WLPGA: What else are you taking in terms of food and emergency supplies?

NH:  I have to take all my water with me, as there is no fresh water on Rockall. My food is military-style boil in the bag rations. I have chosen these as they are tasty and full of energy, but most importantly, they are sterile and as Rockall is not a clean environment.  I want to avoid getting ill if at all possible.

WLPGA: What do you imagine will be your main challenges during the 60 days?

NH:  The main challenges are going to be the weather and morale. I have packed some entertainment in the form of a harmonica, e-books, and rope to tie knots. I will also be trying to keep strong with an exercise band. The weather may keep me in the RockPod for several days, and that is when my morale may sink.

WLPGA: What are you looking forward to most about this challenge?

NH:  I think that the experience of that amount of isolation for a prolonged period is going to be really eye opening. I think I will learn a lot about myself. I’m really looking forward to the peace, away from civilisation with just nature for company.

WLPGA: How will you keep in touch with the outside world and how do you plan to use social media? I am taking a BGAN satellite phone and so in addition to being able to make the odd call home, I will be Tweeting and updating my Blog from the rock.  I also hope to be able to do some live TV interviews via Skype.

WLPGA: Are you taking any luxury items?

NH:  Not really, as weight and space are at a premium, although there are chocolate bars in the rations, and the whisky cask I’m taking (which will be filled and aged after my return, then auctioned for Help for Heroes) I’m told may have some residual spirit in the bottom!

Nick Hancock tests his RockPod over the cliff edge at Ratho EICA, in a final Rockall Solo test run for his unique 60 day endurance expedition on Rockall..© Michael Schofield..
Nick Hancock tests his RockPod over the cliff edge at Ratho EICA, in a final Rockall Solo test run for his unique 60 day endurance expedition on Rockall. Helped by Steve Young and Fraser MacDonald from the National Rope Rescue Training Centre..© Michael Schofield..