Dave MacLeod - After E11 comes Echo Wall (With Video)by Jack Geldard - Editor - UKC Jun/2008
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Echo Wall, high on Ben Nevis is a stunning soaring arÍte of the utmost difficulty and commitment, with climbing that is harder than Rhapsody coupled with fatal consequences should a fall occur. With his scientific approach, Dave MacLeod has been preparing himself for an attempt on this incredible line. The bad weather and cold temperatures of Ben Nevis haven't put him off and MacLeod's dedication seems to be paying dividends. He has continuously battled his way up to the route, shovelling snow from the top for several days to help the rock dry out more quickly. He has had small successes, working out sections and moves, but with a project this hard, Dave has naturally had doubts about the feasibility of his undertaking:
"This thing is just not the same as something like Rhapsody - the climbing on that was quite tricky (at the time it was my limit) but it was right there - easy to sling a rope down in a few minutes and get climbing on it with nothing in the way. I've done the hard mountain routes like Birkett's and Dunne's too, but they were [relative to this] easy climbing - you just turn up, put in a day or two's work and crush it. This is different - the mix of 8c or harder climbing, the prospect of a ground fall on the lead, and the logistical challenge of climbing this so high on the north face of the Ben. That is why it will be another level beyond any of the other routes. That is what I am after on the whole."
Dave has been documenting all his preparation for the climb on his excellent blog: davemacleod.blogspot.com and the project has been captured on video for an upcoming film - more info about that soon.
Dave's mental training has included soloing Darwin Dixit - a short, but still quite dangerous F8b+/F8c in Spain and his physical training is demonstrated in the video below.
We wish Dave the best of luck with this and any other future projects.
Watch a Video of Dave Stamina Training for Echo Wall: