Scotland's first E9

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Mark Somerville - 13/10/2001

Dave MacLeod has fowarded the standard of Scottish rock climbing by climbing another new route at Dumbarton Rock on Tuesday 11th October. It's probably best if I just let Dave describe his ascent of the route:

"The route is called Achemine, which is a french word meaning to go forwards and the grade is E9 6c. It is a direct finish to Chemin De Fer, but I think the label "direct finish" doesn't really do the line justice. I think the headwall above Chemin De Fer describes it better as there are a lot of moves up there! I first tried it last September and it took two days on the shunt to be able to do the individual moves. I worked on it sporadically last autumn and this spring, but still couldnt link it on the top rope. I finally did link it this September and got on the lead a few days later. I figured I'd better get straight on the lead as I new I could never get to the stage of top roping it every go, I might as well get on the sharp end and if I was lucky, it would be done. I reckon it is F8b to top rope, being harder than Digital Quartz and Voodoo Magic, and miles harder than things like Spiral Tribe or Cease Fire.

It is the most conditions dependent route I've ever been on (including Grit) as the climbing is totally sustained on tiny, slatey holds. I couldnt ever link it unless the was a strong wind and cold temperatures. There is no gear after leaving Chemin De Fer and the crux is well run out! Although there is never ground fall potential, the fall is very long (60 feet from the crux) and the swing in is very violent and potentially serious if you flip upside down. I took the fall eleven times before succeeding, and really mashed myself every time. I still can't run at the moment with two sprained ankles and I've got painful (apparently permanent) lumps on the soles of my feet and on my right hand.

On the day I did it there was a strong, cold wind and I'd had a days rest after a session on the top rope. It all seemed to go smoothly that time. Its miles harder than anything Ive done before and I guess, being Scotland first E9, it must be the hardest lead in the country.

It's a massive relief to have that one off my shoulders. It wasnt like anything I'd done before, I had to work so hard to keep all aspects so tight, just to be in with a chance."

Saying 'Good Effort, Dave' just doesn't seem enough.

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