Dave MacLeod has ticked Chris Sharma's Catalan Witness the Fitness in Cova De l' Ocell, Catalunya. Initially graded and confirmed at 8C, Austrian climber Jakob Schubert's recent flash prompted him to suggest a downgrade to 8B+, which Dave agrees with. However, Dave's ascent is particularly impressive considering that he separated his shoulder just over six months ago.
Writing in his blog, Dave explained:
'It would really be a dream come true to climb this line, not just because it's a great climb and super hard, but also because going from a pretty serious shoulder injury to 8B+ in just over 6 months would be a very satisfying endorsement of my approach to recovering from this injury and all the decisions I've made to steer the course along the way.'
The Catalan line leads up a steep roof, which would be particularly intense on a weak shoulder. Having completed two 8Bs in the same cave, Dave turned his attention to Catalan, which shares a strenuous 'iron cross' move with the other problems in the second half of the cave. Putting his projecting experience to good use, Dave found an alternative method to overcome fatigue on the big link on Catalan. He wrote:
'I eventually found (as I always seem to) a completely non-standard way to do the move involving spinning round, going feet first and doing the move 'La Rose' style. Even then, I still lacked the shoulder strength to do it consistently and spent more time on faff mode until I got a little left foot heel-toe that stayed in just long enough to do it more in control.'
After four or five sessions of focusing on Catalan and tailoring his training, Dave put any fear of failure to the back of his mind and finally ticked the line - marking an impressive recovery within six months. He wrote:
'I thought about the initial days after my shoulder injury when it was so painful it took me half an hour to sit up in bed (six months ago!) and how heavy, weak and timid I felt on the rock even two months ago.'
Dave is now looking forward to some sport climbing in Catalunya, which was the main aim of the trip until his climbing partner unfortunately broke her foot.
In 2016, Dave climbed his hardest boulder to date in Magic Wood, with an ascent of Practice of the Wild 8C.
Watch a video of his ascent below: