The number of climbers doing cutting edge ascents on the UK's mountain crags can be counted on the fingers of one hand, perhaps less, and the two main proponents are the Daves. Whilst some E9's on gritstone have had multiple ascents, ascents of E9 and above on the UK's mountain crags are very rare and significant.
Dave MacLeod, fresh from his recent ascent of To Hell and Back E10 6c (see UKClimbing.com news report), spent two days practicing If 6 Was 9 before he led it and found the climbing to be the equivalent of an 8a+ sport route but with no real decent protection (three pegs) finding the climbing, "steep, physical and pumpy, but positive."
He said of the grade, "solid E9 6c and a great benchmark for any climber looking to make a solid entry to the E9 standard. I reckon it's pretty similar difficulty and character to The Fugue (E9 6c)." The Fugue is Dave MacLeod's 2001 route at Glen Croe.
Dave MacLeod provides us with a real insight into this latest ascent (with photos) at www.davemacleod.blogspot.com
The Hot Aches film crew were in attendance and got some great footage. Dave Brown of Hot Aches, said Iron Crag, near Thirlmere and just south of Keswick, was steep, more akin to some of the mountain crags MacLeod has been active on recently in Scotland, and importantly it allowed Hot Aches to rig four cameramen away from the crag. You can read the Hot Aches commentary (with photos) on this ascent at hotaches.blogspot.com
Although the If 6 Was 9 footage won't make it in this years Hot Aches film Committed, it will be included in next years Volume 2. Committed will be available in October after a premier in Sheffield.
In September 2006 Dave Birkett repeated a MacLeod E9: Holdfast (E9 7a) in Glen Nevis, Scotland, confirming the grade. You can read the UKClimbing.com news report about that ascent here
Dave MacLeod is sponsored by Scarpa, Mountain Equipment, Black Diamond and Gore-tex.