Echo Wall Review

From ScottishClimbs

Jump to: navigation, search
Echo Wall DVD artwork (Rarebreed Productions)

Echo Wall is the self-titled chronicle of Dave MacLeod's ascent of a new impressively hard and bold line on Ben Nevis. Filmed and edited by Claire and Dave MacLeod, it follows Dave's multi-discipline first ascents in the Highlands, exploiting the best of the seasons and the weather. Given the target objective the film goes on to describe the motivation, dedication and strategy towards climbing such a line.

Dave has blogged frequently about Echo Wall and the film project itself over the last year. Clever marketing - as much so as completing the route on cue for autumn. As we learn in the film, one of Dave's biggest strengths other than his biceps is his methodical approach to an end objective. Frequent readers won't be disappointed - the snow patch of justice does make an appearance.

Echo Wall will primarily be compared with E11, in which the Hotaches crew followed Dave's ascent of Rhapsody at Dumbarton. Comparing them, Echo Wall is the yin to E11's yang. There are no audience-grabbing whippers, screams and tears of failure. Echo Wall replaces this with a justified build up to a one-take attempt at success. In between these two films we also had "To Hell and Back" which shares a similar story to Echo Wall - this suffered slightly from a story line swamped the D word for a TV audience. An earlier-named first ascent in the film of Don't Die of Ignorance could equally have been a working film title. The build up to Echo Wall takes us through Dave's intense mental and physical training regime. Through 2008 we see Dave test his mettle against some hard V11-V13 boulder problems in Glen Nevis, Spanish sport F8a onsights, F8c solo, through to E8 FAs back home. These Dave justifies as the base elements in power, stamina and psychological strength required for Echo Wall.

On his motivation for risking everything for Echo Wall Dave states “we're only limited by deciding what we really want, not whether we can do it or not”, Marshall's words on Ben Nevis as as “big black mystery” also strike as a metaphor for our own motivations to climb as much as the mountain. Some stunning aerial views across the Ben and Highlands beyond let us dwell on our own motivation. When we finally view Dave's lead of Echo Wall what we see does not glamorise risk but rather control in a serious situation (although not without its moments!). An opportunity seized through hard work and a bit of luck.

There is no formal commitment from Dave yet on a grade for Echo Wall, instead we are left to make our own interpretations. This cleverly turns the grade argument on its head, leaving the viewer to justify the effort rather than to tear it down.

News just in: the Echo Wall premiere at the EMFF has picked up awards for Best Film and best Climbing Film.

Echo Wall is available on DVD 44 minutes (28 min extras) and is available from

Extras include:

  • Glen Nevis DVD Extra
  • Jimmy Marshall extended interview DVD extra
  • Spain DVD Extra Margalef OS 8a,8b attempt, quick 8c redpoint
Personal tools