Rockall. This lonely rock in the middle of the North Atlantic …
… is claimed by Britain since 1955, and incorporated into Scotland since 1972. Illegally – because international law doesn’t allow the appropriation of uninhabited rocks. Britain exploits oil and gas in the vicinity. Despite signing the UN Law of the Seas in 1997, the dispute continues (2019).
“Rock on Rockall” – Resistance Song by The Wolfe Tones, underlining the Irish claim to Rockall.
Our team of experienced country raiders started their mission with a 7 hour drive from the Styrian mountains in Austria.
With added country raid specialists from 7 different nationalities we boarded a Challenger 850 at a private airport …
… bound for Stornoway, Outer Hebrides, Scotland.
(Side note: next to Stornoway Airport, Donald Trump’s mother Mary MacLeod was born in 1912.)
The full combat team then entered the expedition yacht Hanse Explorer, a 47 meter luxury yacht with icebreaker specification, in the port of Stornoway.
Stopover at uninhabited St. Kilda. After 4.000 years of continuous human settlement, the island was evacuated in 1930. Even beforehand many islanders had emigrated to Australia (interesting story of the Lady of St. Kilda). Since then, St. Kilda has been serving as a British military outpost, in particular for the testing of British atomic missiles during the Cold War.
Surprise assault under the radar!
Visitors to St. Kilda are rather rare.
Except for these funny folks.
Three country raiders in front of a cargo container of the modern ‘dogs of war’ company QinetiQ, who work for the British Ministry of Defence, and who provide rotating shifts of the only humans on St. Kilda …
… defending the Empire! (Foto Wikipedia)
Hirta Island’s Village Bay with our operational base, the Hanse Explorer, in the background.
The lost songs of St. Kilda (by one of the island’s last inhabitants from the 1930s)
After sailing 350 kilometers on the rough Northern Atlantic, with winds up to 45 knots (9 Beaufort!) and 6 meter waves, we approached Rockall. The traverse was so bad, even part of the crew got seasick. Luckily, the eye of the storm was calmer around Rockall.
Climbing and claiming Rockall is a complicated operation. Captain Andriy and his crew did a great job in lowering the zodiacs in such conditions.
Superhero Harald Buben was the only one in our group who managed to climb the rock.
Almost everyone touched the rock. A happy expedition leader and team!
To strenghten their claim of an “inhabited” island, Britain had sent the survival expert and former SAS Tom McClean to live on top of Rockall, in an emergency capsule, for 40 days (in 1985), and later Nick Hancock for 45 days (in 2014). Respect for these individual achievements! However the “territorial” rights to Rockall are still disputed.
Rockall was declared the “Independent Republic of Waveland” in 1997 …
… by Greenpeace, to protest against British oil exploration. (Fotos Wikipedia)
Our local guide Al Baker had lived on Rockall for a month in 1997, supporting the Greenpeace project as a mountaineering expert.
Most Traveled People founder Charles Veley managed to bodysurf and step onto Rockall in 2008. There were also two amateur radio expeditions to Rockall in 2005 and 2011.
We were the first dedicated travel group to visit Rockall, and claim it for ETIC.
German aristocrat, adventurer and artist Michael von Hassel (left) claims nearby Hasselwood Rock on behalf of his family 😉
The list of adventurers who qualified for the Rockall Club is still rather exclusive. There were more people on the moon than on …