Sonnie Trotter came to Scotland to climb Rhapsody. He put his cards on the table, in the full media spotlight, with all the pressures that come with being open about your ambitions. He gave it his all and he succeeded. The route didn't go without a fight, Sonnie had to extend his stay not once, but twice. Climbers chipped in with financial help - which Sonnie nobly turned down, and he had just enough financial resources to enable him to stay longer and complete his goal.
After taking twenty four falls from the headwall of Dumbarton Rock, Trotter latched the top of the crag on Monday the ninth of June and he pulled over to victory. A superb show of strength, will and tenacity, placing Trotter high in the list of the world's top climbers.
"I fell into a place of power that I have not been to for a while, I squeezed tighter and knew it was over, a truck could not have pulled me off. On top, I stood on cloud nine. I still am. Cloud ten maybe even, if there is such a thing."
There have been various discussions about the line and the eliminate nature of the route, but the fact remains that a superb physical and mental challenge was set by Dave MacLeod. Sonnie Trotter has risen to that challenge.
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Margins of the Mind: is considered by John Redhead to be his most difficult route. Tackling a blank, mossy wall high on the mountain cliff of Cloggy, it stood unrepeated for two decades. Just after the Millennium, Cloggy technician Nick Dixon made a headpoint ascent, extensively practising the moves and learning the blind and poor gear placements. He upgraded the route to E8.
Margins of the Mind epitomised all Redhead stood for in climbing; mortally serious, furiously blind and technical, a stunning line in a remote and lonely setting. Redhead climbed the route after minimal abseil cleaning and when committed high above the crux, he thought he was going to die:
"You've let me down this time Dave, you bastard. You've let me down"
His words echoed down the wall to his belayer, Dave Towse. Dave had encouraged John to go for it and now John thought his end was upon him.
Neil Dickson walked slowly up to Cloggy last Sunday morning. His climbing partner for the day was John Redhead, his intended route - Margins of the Mind. Climbing on sight, with no knowledge of the route (Redhead couldn't remember where it started - it was over twenty years since he had passed a chalked finger over the wall) Neil slowly inched his way upwards on tiny holds with no meaningful protection.
Over four hours after stepping on to the wall, he reached the final moves before easy ground. His tips were all split from the tiny razor edges, his shoulders cramping with pain and fatigue, the only protection high enough to keep him from the floor was a tiny RP and a wire hooked over a pencil-tip sized spike. Then, right at the last moment, his foot slipped.
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Thanks to Posing Productions for the video extract of Neil and John Redhead.