Top Scottish all round climber Dave MacLeod has added yet another cutting edge new route to his CV with an ascent of Castles in the Sky on Druim Shionnach in Glen Shiel.
The route crosses a huge roof section via two figure of four moves and has marginal protection. The vertical wall to gain the roof is around technical grade 7 and the unprotected upper headwall is around technical grade 6.
MacLeod hasn't offered an exact grade for his route, but it will surely be up there in the grade 11 range.
Dave was belayed by Ruth Taylor and she has written up the ascent on the Mountain Equipment blog:
"...After clipping the next runner, all manner of whacky moves broke loose.
Footless-ness, followed by 2 figure of fours in a row saw Dave reach his picks around the apex on the roof. The downside to this was the tiny tenuous hooks they were placed in with the last bit of gear being the aforementioned downward pointing knifeblade. A fall from here would be a VERY bad idea.
I think all of our hearts were in our mouths, although none more so than Dave's I'm sure..."
However, there has been some criticism of the conditions on the UKC forums, what with their being no snow or rime stuck to the underside of the large horizontal roof section.
Dave commented on his blog:
"As you can see from the pictures, it doesn't look like your average Scottish winter route. That's because it's not. It's not a gully, it's not a snowy turfy corner. It's a big square cut cave, so it doesn't get rime or snow in the roof. It's good to have something different, otherwise things get boring."
Thanks go to Andy Turner for the photo. Andy has also written up a report on his blog.