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„All-Around MacLeod”

What does it mean to be an all-around climber?  Sport, Trad, Ice?  Single pitch or grade V?  Scottish climber Dave MacLeod is showing us what it means to be well-rounded.

Dave MacLeod beginning the crux section of Don’t Die of Ignorance XI,11

On March 4th, MacLeod soloed Darwin Dixit (8c/5.14b) at Margalef, Spain. MacLeod did the route without pads or spotters as it climbs through a low, powerful, pocketed roof and continues higher up a continually overhanging wall. MacLeod’s ascent of Darwin Dixit is the only known solo of a 5.14b, making it the most difficult send of its’ kind.

On March 16th, MacLeod along with Joe French, made their ascent of Don’t Die of Ignorance (XI, 11, 275m). The route follows an 8-pitch line up the Comb Buttress of Ben Nevis. It took MacLeod 6 attempts over 3 years to put it up.  The second pitch is the crux, best described by MacLeod.

- Just like Friday I desperately struggled to seat my axe in the crux tin opener. I screamed to Joe to expect a fall and released my left axe, cutting loose onto one arm. The axe slid and jerked a centimeter...a dynamic match and kung fu allowed one foot to swing onto the wall to the right and up to the peg I got in on Friday. The vertical wall above was climbed in an utterly 'go for broke' style, axes ripping, dropping onto one hand and gasping with pump and shrieking for slack. All a bit full on.

The pitch took MacLeod 2,5 hours to lead and took French 2,5 hours to follow (after a minor incident).  Needless to say, the pair finished the climb under a star-laden nighttime sky.

With bold ascents on both rock and ice, what is next for Dave MacLeod?  According to his blog, these climbs are all in preparation for a much bigger project on Ben Nevis, an 8c trad climb with poor protection?  We’ll have to wait and see what is in the future for „All-Around Macleod”.


See also
Katy Whittaker on gritstone
Pete Robins on gritstone season
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Sonnie Trotter - New 5.14 Trad Route
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