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24/8 Challenge - Dave MacLeod's Big Day Out

© Kevin Woods

Dave MacLeod has completed a long-held ambition to complete what he calls his '24/8' challenge - climbing a Font 8A+ boulder, an E8 trad route, an 8a sport route, a VIII,8 winter route and 8 Munros within 24 hours. Dave managed it on Monday in 18.5 hours.

Dave enjoying Lochaber in the springtime.  © Dave MacLeod
Dave enjoying Lochaber in the springtime.
© Dave MacLeod

Writing in his blog, Dave explained the inspiration behind the challenge:

'I moved to Lochaber ten years ago and one thing you cannot escape as a local is that in spring, conditions are amazing for every type of climbing. If you are an all-round climber in the area, spring equates to doing very little work, having no rest days at all, being exhausted for three months straight but having a huge number of fantastic memorable days out climbing. You find yourself trying to recover from winter climbing fast enough to take advantage of great conditions for your rock projects, almost wishing for a rainy day to make an excuse to rest. This is why it is the best all-rounder climbing area I know of, anywhere.'

Dave starting the day on Cameron Stone Arete 8A+.  © Kevin Woods
Dave starting the day on Cameron Stone Arete 8A+.
© Kevin Woods

Dave had put some time into preparing for it across a couple of winters over the past 8 years or so. He was even set to have a proper go at it once, about 4 or 5 years ago, but conditions proved tricky: if the mixed routes on the Ben were white, the rock routes in the Glen were either also snowed up, or soaking wet, or if the rock routes were dry, then the mixed routes would be unclimbable. Despite Lochaber being an adventure playground for different disciplines in spring, it was proving difficult to choose a moment when conditions would align to complete all five disciplines in just one day.

Dave on top of Ben Nevis during a very memorable day of climbing.  © Kevin Woods
Dave on top of Ben Nevis during a very memorable day of climbing.
© Kevin Woods

The combination of the 'Beast from the East' arctic weather and a second bout of easterlies this season eventually brought all routes into condition earlier this week. Dave arranged to climb with Kevin Shields for the rock routes, Iain Small for the winter route, and Kevin Woods to film the challenge and join him for the Grey Corries traverse. A 4:30am start saw Dave beginning his big day out at the Cameron Stone in Glen Nevis at 6:30am.

Topping out on Frosty's Vigil VIII, 8 at around 5pm.  © Kevin Woods
Topping out on Frosty's Vigil VIII, 8 at around 5pm.
© Kevin Woods

The challenge comprised the following routes/hills in order:

Cameron Stone Arete 8A+

Misadventure E8 6c

Leopold 8a

Frosty's Vigil VIII,8

Munros: Ben Nevis, Carn Mor Dearg, Aonach Mor, Aonach Beag, Sgurr Choinnich Mor, Stob Coire an Laoigh, Stob Coire Claurigh, Stob Ban.

Dave ticking Leopold 8a off the list.  © Kevin Woods
Dave ticking Leopold 8a off the list.
© Kevin Woods

Dave finished at 1:20am and has since been 'eating mountains of food and drinking gallons of tea,' he told UKC. He has written an extensive blog describing the day, linked below.

Summing up this season - in which he most recently made the second ascent of Gutbuster 8B+ at Dumbarton Rock - and the 24/8 challenge, Dave wrote:

'It's been a fantastic winter where I've done most of my projects for the season, all of which were hard for me. Time to move onto my spring rock projects I think. But this one will definitely live long in the memory.'


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People in the wider world of climbing tend to hear about my climbing through the well known films E11 or Echo Wall or my book 9 out of 10 climbers make the same...

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22 Mar, 2018

Blimey. That is ...words fail me, chapeau sir.

22 Mar, 2018

Wow. Being able to do just one of those list ticks would do me

22 Mar, 2018
22 Mar, 2018

Just amazing. A pleasure to have joined for filming, and then to go along the Aonachs & Grey Corries at night. Stob Ban was 1.20am as is in the article, then we went down to the Lairig Leacach for the first water in hours - it was so dry and cold there was not a drop anywhere but for the ice and neve. Walked back to Roybridge, and a river wade through the Spean. Back in the door for 5.20am with the first hints of sun spilling over the horizon as it had done 24 hours earlier at the Cameron Stone.

22 Mar, 2018

Nice one Kev, sounds like an incredible day.  

I remember reading about the King of the Pass challenge in Llanberis and wondering what the Scottish equivalent would be. I guess we know now! Any suggestions for a bumbly equivalent?

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