MacLeod climbed two hard routes on a small slab of rock in this area late last year - Apophenia, which he graded E8 7a and Die by the Drop, which he graded E10 7a.
Woodburn repeated Apophenia using a slightly different foot sequence and thought the grade more like E7 6c. He wrote his ascent up on the Beta Team Blog:
"We were in Arisaig and the weather was terrible, but I made a quick visit over to the slab to have a look at the routes. It stopped raining enough for me to get my boots on a have a quick tinker on Apophenia. I worked out a sequence pretty fast and then top roped it clean. The gear was tiny (3 RP 0's and an HB 3) but the climbing didn't seen too bad. I just needed it to stop raining long enough to have a proper go..."
A few days later:
"...A quick top rope again and a recheck of the gear and I set off. I haven't climbed anything particularly hard for quite a while and I felt more tense than usual. It was hard to commit to the crux step through, and then near the top I couldn't make up my mind whether or not to stop and place the top gear. In the process my right foot slipped slightly and I decided to push on rather than hang around on the small crimps. All in all though it went fine and it felt good to have a bit of a struggle. Dave graded the route E8 7a, but I'm not so sure it warrants such big numbers. My foot sequence is different to the one he used and I think E7 6c seems more appropriate.
It would have been good to have time to look at the E10 Die By The Drop as well but maybe next time."
In regard to the grade, all first ascensionists take a stab in the dark and MacLeod commented at the time:
"...You never know with slabs - I know there are some slab experts out there and I ain't one..."
Charlie Woodburn, on a Scottish road trip, then teamed up with Tim Emmett to have a crack at the stunning looking Dave Birkett route Skye Wall, but unfortunately rain stopped play as Charlie was leading the crux pitch. Good luck on the return trip Charlie!
Charlie is no stranger to hard trad routes, and seems to be often drawn to ones that are less than vertical. He has previously climbed The Walk of Life (E9) and Daddy Cool (E8) as well as making the first ascents of San Simeon (E8) at Pembroke in 2004 and Harder Faster (E9) at the gritstone crag of Black Rocks in 2000.
VIDEO: Charlie Woodburn repeating Apophenia
Charlie Woodburn is sponsored by Beta Climbing Designs