Climbing Blind is a 'tale of tenacity, adaptation and hope'

It tells the story of Jesse Dufton, a climber with a degenerative eye condition that has left him with almost no sight. He intends to become the first blind climber to lead on the Old Man of Hoy, a gorgeous, imposing 450ft seastack in Orkney. Director Alastair Lee has made plenty of climbing films before and his wealth of experience shows. He can’t see where he should be putting his hands or his feet, or his equipment, and has to use a combination of touch and verbal guidance from Molly. “I’m not really using my eyes, to be honest,” he says, which is all the more astonishing when the camera cuts away to the enormous drops beneath him. Dufton’s parents are a treat, giggling as they admit that they saw him bumping into things as a child: “We just thought, well, he’s not looking where he’s going.” When Molly tells the story of her partner’s proposal, on a mountaintop in Greenland, she says, simply: “Obviously I said yes.” Their relationship is a marvel to watch, whether she is describing a narrow grassy path, hanging perilously close to a sheer drop into the sea in order for him to navigate it, or offering encouragement as he twists his way up under a particularlyawkward rock. Each builds a nice sense of what is to come and it really is breathtaking to watch, as well as to enjoy the scenery that many of us will have been missing for the past three months.