Tuesday, 14 August 2007

Dave MacLeod

I’ve always had a link to probably the most inspiring of the climbing sites on the web at the right of my blog… Dave MacLeod’s Blog. Well recently it’s been buzzing with news of his planned first ascent on live TV for the BBC. He’s got at least 3 new lines inspected and cleaned in Hells Lum in preparation for the big day ranging from E8 to a choppy E10.

Probably 6 years ago at this stage I had the luck to climb with this guy at an international meet held in Fairhead to promote new routing in Ireland and really showcase Irelands potential for hard trad climbing. Both Dave MacLeod and Cubby attended and as luck would have it … so did I. At the Time Dave was just beginning to make headlines over in Ireland. In a weird quirk I ended up sharing a dorm with both himself and Cubby (3 Daves), neither of which I knew anything about other than the fact that they were sound blokes and as keen as myself to climb at Fairhead. At the time although I had climbed some mid E-grades at my local crag I was basically a fat, weak HVS climber. During the course of the weekend I watched Dave Lead the Classic E5 of the Crag – Wall of Prey. This was the first time I had seen anyone climb an E5 and it stuck in my brain. Next he methodically abbed and inspected the line next to it – Above and beyond, E6 - before deciding it needed more cleaning than he had time to put into it and decided to try some other lines. It was great to see someone using a sensible approach to these lines and I think it left a mark on my climbing to this day.

Before the end of the visit Dave explored some of the impressive boulders at the base of the crag and I joined him – Curious. The first instinctive reaction of the Irish climbers with their Trad-or-Dead ethos would be to mock such ‘pebbling’ below the immaculate, multi-pitch cliffs – but in the company of a proven climber I guess I sensed I could get away with a bit of bouldering. Dave was sound – we had no pads so just took turns spotting and climbing – Dave sent some quality crimpy lines and I even made it up one or two aswell – what was obvious straight away was his love of the sport, something that he puts across very well on his blog. Since then I’ve grown as a climber and even returned to the head and climbed E6 myself – adopting a very similar approach to Dave’s during that meet. Without being reckless, inspecting the line and weighing the risks.

More recently I’ve taken inspiration from Dave’s training tips, articles and advice – He really does know his stuff and has an impressive string of ascents to prove what he says works. Since dedicating myself to loosing weight, running and finger boarding religiously I’ve seen huge gains even since February! 7b to 8a in 5 months! And I’m not stopping there… It’s just the beginning. I’m going back to the Emerald Isle for a couple of weeks and hope to visit and climb on all the Trad Crags that I learned to climb on years ago and I’m sure I’ll end up wanting some new line or other (there being at least half a dozen E6’s and 7’s permanently lodged in my brain, ripe for the reaping) I’m sure I’ll be giddy with excitement at leading some awesome route and will have to weight up the odds – hopefully realising where I’m at and where I want to be in a month, a year, 2 years... Whether or not I commit to any big leads will depend on how much within my current ability the route actually is. Thoughts that I’m sure MacLeod will be thinking this weekend before his live Climb Broadcast. All I can say is Best of Luck man!!

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