If 6 Was 9 is 9 says MacLeod

© Hot Aches
If 6 Was 9 at Iron Crag was first climbed in 1992 by Dave Birkett and he proposed a grade of E9 6c, it is one of a string of hard climbs Birkett has established in the Lake District and now it has been repeated 15 years after the first ascent by Dave MacLeod.

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 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

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

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 news report about that ascent here

Dave MacLeod is sponsored by Scarpa, Mountain Equipment, Black Diamond and Gore-tex.

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18 Sep, 2007
Congratulations and an awesome effort by Mr MacLeod after all the stuff on Set In Stone. Really impressed as he said it was on his tick list earlier in the year and then put his money where his mouth is. Any plans now for Rewind (E10) down in Cornwall?
18 Sep, 2007
how can youy count on less than one hand? less than one hand is no hands, and then you couldnt count.
18 Sep, 2007
Whilst some E9's on gritstone have had multiple ascents, I doubt it Mick.. Which Gritstone E9's and how many ascents..??> I would guess no more than, say 6 tops.....tops..?
18 Sep, 2007
I did the first ascent of The Sound of One Hand Clapping at Giggleswick.
18 Sep, 2007
<devils advocate> It can't be E9, because MacLeod isn't wearing a helmet. Anything at 6c that feels so safe that you can consider climbing it without a lid isn't E9. Check out the Rockfax approx grade table reading from that safe 6c is no E9! Of course Dave just might have a death-wish in which case you shouldn't be encouraging him...
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