Nick Hancock, the DM Hall surveyor based in Edinburgh, who broke the record for the longest single occupation of Rockall, is on his way back to the tiny North Atlantic speck 230 miles west of the Scottish mainland.
This time, instead of undertaking a gruelling feat of endurance, he will be acting as a guide to a party of adventure tourists who will be the first people to set foot on the storm-lashed rock since the last landing in 2016.
He will use the skills he honed during his 45 days on the 25 x 22 metre islet in 2014 to ensure that safety lines and fixing points are suitable for the ascent to where he anchored his tiny shelter from the Atlantic waves.
He said: “I will be acting as a guide more in the sense of a mountaineering guide, rather than a tour guide, since a tour of Rockall would take a very short time indeed. The whole trip will be very weather dependent.”
Only a handful of people have ever spent more than a few hours on Rockall since the first recorded landing in 1811. To put this in perspective, more than 3500 people have stood on the summit of Everest since 1953 and 12 have landed on the moon since 1969.
The trip, organised for May 2020 by Lupine Travel and adventure sailing experts Kraken Travel, will have taken the best part of two years to organise and the 18 tourists will be looked after by a captain and a crew of four.
Nick said: “The travel companies got in touch with me because, I suppose, I am something of an expert on Rockall. We will use St Kilda as a staging post if the weather dictates, either on the way there or on the way back.
“It takes a minimum of 16 hours, and perhaps in excess of 24 depending on wind direction, to travel from Oban to Rockall and the ocean swells can make landing very tricky. Also, there is not a great deal of room on the rock, just a small platform where my survival pod was and a flat area at the top.
“We may have to take the tourists on in groups. The rock is very slippery with bird waste and landing such a large number of people will be quite an operation.”
Those who do manage to land will become, like Nick, exclusive members of the Rockall Club, which was founded seven years ago to mark the 40th anniversary of the island becoming part of Scotland.
If Nick does land on the rock again he will equal the final record to be broken which is the most number of landings by an individual, which currently stands at 3.