Dave Macleod: First Ascent of Multi-pitch 5.14 in Scotland

posted by dpm on 06/23/2011


Dave Macleod has completed the first  free ascent of Longhope Direct on Mt. Hoy in Orkney, Scotland.  The 1500 foot route was first climbed on aid in 1970 by Ed Drummond and Oliver Hill.  A free ascent of the route had been attempted before by John Arran and Dave Turnbull but they avoided the crux pitch by free climbing a variation to the left.  Dave's goal was to not only free the crux pitch, which ended up weighing in at 5.14a, but to free the entire thing in a day.  With the crux pitch near the top, staying fresh through the 1000+ feet of climbing to get up  to it was the challenge.  In typical Macleod style, Dave embraced the challenge and chose not to add bolts to the pitch.  Also in his typical style, the process of freeing such a daunting wall is meticulously documented on his excellent blog. 


Photo: Lukasz Warzecha from Dave's Blog


The following passage is from Dave's blog:


Climbing it in a day was the big deal for the difficulty of the route. I knew the crux pitch,65 metres long and around 8b+ish with some long runouts would feel about 90% of my limit. But could I climb the 400 odd metres below without losing 10% of the strength in my arms. When I got to the guillotine belay before the big pitch, the answer felt like most definitely NO! I was knackered. If the pitch was 8a+ or even 8b on trad, it would be fine. But I knew it was hard enough that it just wouldn’t work if I didn’t have the energy to pull down on those wee edges. 


Photo: Lukasz Warzecha from Dave's Blog


As I brought Andy up I could feel a sinking sense of failure on the route and the huge waste of opportunity. I started to wonder if the odd missed training session here and there would have made the difference? Should I not have eaten this or that? The chance to be on this route, in good conditions, with a good partner is so special. As I get older I sense more and more strongly all the time that life moves on, opportunities pass - for good. Just to have opportunity is such a gift. Wasting half chances is just not on. 


More excellent pictures and the full report can be read at www.davemacleod.blogspot.com.

Check out more of Lukasz's great pictures at his photography website.