SPORTS ENTHUSIAST FACES TALL ORDER – Blind man to abseil down UK’s highest waterfall
5th September, 2009.
A blind extreme sports enthusiast from Blairgowrie will today score a double first when he abseils down the UK’s highest waterfall.
Dean Dunbar will tackle the 658ft Eas A Chual Aluinn, near Kylesku in Sutherland, becoming the first person as well as the first blind person to attempt the feat.
Mr Dunbar, 40, of Hawthorn Lane will descend the sheer fall under the supervision of Ben Starkie from the Vertical Descents outdoors centre at Fort William. He is one of hte country’s top experts in the relatively new sport of aquaseiiling.
Registered blind since 1996, Mr Dunbar became hooked on extreme sports two years later when he attempted his first tandem skydive.
Since then he has blazed a trail in the field, becoming the first blind person in the world to bungee jump from a helicopter, participate in the five-day Hebridean Challenge adventure race and be thrown by the Dangerous Sports Club’s human catapult.
He has been planning his latest adventure for two years.
He said: “For me being registered blind, as I’ve always loved waterfalls whenever I go anywhere and hear one I have to go and investigate.”
“I was on holiday in that area a couple of years ago and went there with my wife. When she told me it was the highest in the country, that’s when I came up with the plan.”
Mr Dunbar said the most challenging aspects will be dealing with the slippery rock surface and with snagged ropes. He added: “There will be moss and water on the rocks.”
“If ropes get snagged you don’t want to hang around too long with that volume of water coming down on you. Apart from anything else, it would be extremely cold.”
He is already planning his next ventures, a sea kayaking trip to the island of St Kilda and the Glen Nevis River Race*, both of which hopes to complete next year.
He added: “It’s such a rush and I’m completely addicted.”
By Mark Dowie
*This was an error, as I completed the Glen Nevis River Race in 2009. However, hopefully I’ll be back again in 2010!