Climbing Blind, BBC 4, BBC iPlayer, Director and Producer Alastair Lee.

‘I’m not disabled, I’m blind able,’ said Jesse Dufton, the first blind man to climb the 440- foot sea stack the Old Man of Hoy in Orkney on the 4th June 2019.  

A consultant’s diagnosis that you are going to be blind is akin to a diagnosis of terminal cancer. Of all our senses, sight is the most precious. Given a choice (we don’t get a choice, it’s more like fate) I’d take the terminal cancer rather than suffer blindness. Most of us would. Sight is associated with light. It helps regulate our appetites and hormones. Our body clock relies on sight and light, each cell in our body responds to light.

Dufton was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa when he was four-years old. His parents were told he would never be able to read. They should shelter him and prepare him for a life of blindness. They did the opposite and sent him to the school of hard knocks.

Molly, his visual climbing guide and fiancée, met him at university. He was part of their climbing club. She thought there was something strange about him. Later she worked out he was blind. He had only peripheral vision, which was also deteriorating. By the time Dufton was twenty, he could no longer hold a page up to his nose and read the print. Aged thirty, his field of vision was around 1-2%. He was blind by any measure.

The Old Man of Hoy is an arduous climb for the sighted. That old equation, time, speed and distance are also related to sight. When swimming breath stroke with my eyes shut in the baths I tend to hit the guide ropes, panic and open my eyes. Everything seems further away, yet nearer. Einstein’s special theory of relativity could also apply to blindness. Moving clocks run slow. Rulers shrink. Our impotence grows. Nothing seems possible. If the population of Scotland were blinded and taken scale the Old Man of Hoy all would fall off like lemmings from the cliff face onto the rocks and sea below.

We know Jess Duffon made the impossible possible plotting a path for other blind and unsighted people. The complex machinery of our eyes are made up of four separate strata. He believes he will regain his vision. I’m not so sure. It’s not about pluck or determination or even luck. His fate is out of his hands. He has faith of a different sort. I hope his story has a happy ending, because it would mean so much to so many others. But I imagine whatever happens, his superpowers of resilience won’t let him down.  What would you fear losing most?     


"What would you fear losing most"

Thats a good one...... (thought provoking on my side)

I dont have an answer for that one..... (yet)

I do know how to lose 10x, fall back, reassess, train up, to win once.... = ahh, like some of my writing skills :)....

Moving story... sheds new light on the saying "seeing is believing".. or in this case, adapt, been there done that, lived in the moment, failure is option,... enjoyed it Celt* In any case, Jesse is in the bad-ass go for it club = (respect).......


Jess is an old-fashoned hero. He believes he'll be able to see again one day. I'm not so sure (I'd doubt it). But no villians in this one.