Dave MacLeod has made the third ascent of Dave Birkett's Return of the King E9 6c on Scafell in the Lake District. Adam Hocking made the 2nd ascent in July 2011 (UKC News Report).
After a long season of focussing purely on bouldering - culminating in an ascent of his first 8C, Practice of the Wild, in Magic Wood (UKC Interview) - Dave's return to trad has got off to a promising start. Despite having repeated several of Dave Birkett’s hard trad routes in the Lake District - If 6 was 9 (E9 6c) (E9), Caution (E8 6c) (E8), Impact Day (E8 6c) (E8), Dawes Rides a Shovelhead (E8 6c) (E8) and John Dunne’s route Breathless (E9 7a) (E9) - Dave had neglected to visit Scafell and attempt its trio of Birkett E9s - Talbot Horizon (E9 6c), Welcome to the Cruel World (E9 7a) and Return of the King (E9 6c). Writing in his blog, Dave explained:
'To me, Return of the King looked the most appealing line to try first. Last Tuesday I headed down and drove round to Wasdale for the first time. Lovely place!'
Improving upon the style of the two previous ascents, Dave placed gear on lead rather than pre-placing the wires. He wrote:
'I sussed out the line, give it a quick clean and top roped it first try after trying the moves once. I was aware that both the previous ascents used preplaced gear and I could see why! The crucial small wire placements were right in the middle of the crux sections. So placing them on lead would basically be the crux of the route.'
Despite suffering from a cold, Dave took just one day of rest before returning on Thursday to lead the route. Commenting on his return to trad, he wrote:
'I’ve only been bouldering and some winter climbing for some time now. It’s been a while since I’ve been on the sharp end on an E9. So I didn't feel in my normal routine of getting into a very psyched-up mindset for blasting off up a hard route with only a couple of RPs clipped to your harness. It did definitely help that I still had a bit of strength in my arms from the bouldering season. The moves of the route were feeling fine.'
Will he be back for the other two? Dave told UKC:
'I might go back for the E9 on the Wasdale screes nearby - Hasty Sin Oot Ert Hoonds? (E9 6c). The other E9s on Scafell look 2 star. Good but not that good. Better lines in Scotland to go at.'
Watch some GoPro footage of Dave's ascent below:
Read more on Dave's blog.