Hunger 9a by Hamish McArthur

© Joe Xiberras

20-year-old Hamish McArthur has made the fourth ascent of Malcolm Smith's Hunger (9a) at The Anvil, Loch Goil, and his first of the grade. The line was established in 2010 as Scotland's first 9a and is a link-up of Dave Redpath's Fire Power 8b and Dave MacLeod's Body Blow 8b+. It has since been repeated by Will Bosi and Dave MacLeod.

Hamish McArthur makes the fourth ascent of Hunger 9a.   © Joe Xiberras
Hamish McArthur makes the fourth ascent of Hunger 9a.
© Joe Xiberras

For Hamish, this trip to the Anvil was a marker that the very long competition season was finally coming to an end. He commented:

"I was tired of having to perform and felt the need to disappear into the woods for a few days. Both the place we camped and the route itself were beyond beautiful."

The Anvil is a freestanding boulder hidden in the forest by Loch Goil. On one side, there is a 60-degree-overhanging face, home to some of Scotland's hardest sport routes and link-ups. Hamish said:

"It's hard not to be inspired when looking up, especially as Hunger follows the perfect line straight up the middle of the overhang."

The crux is an 8A boulder problem low down, with a rest at half-height before another 8A crux and some droppable power moves higher on the headwall. 

Hamish McArthur on the first crux.  © Joe Xiberras
Hamish McArthur on the first crux.
© Joe Xiberras

Hamish arrived in the late afternoon on his first day at the crag and climbed into the night with head torches. He said:

"After a questionable night's sleep suspended from tree and a hearty bowl of Scottish oats, I was ready to start redpointing."

Hamish climbed through the first crux smoothly three times, and each time narrowly missed the second crux. He explained:

"I unwillingly made myself rest for a good few hours, then in the early afternoon did some star-jumps and prepared for the send. I set off much more relaxed this time, smiling on the rests and enjoying the anticipation of once again arriving at the second crux. I told myself to squeeze harder, and thankfully I wanted it enough to scream my way through the hardest moves on the fourth redpoint attempt."

Camp for the night.  © Joe Xiberras
Camp for the night.
© Joe Xiberras

Ahead of a busy competition season in 2023, in which Hamish will attempt to qualify for Paris 2024, projecting Hunger was a welcome break and a reset before hard training resumes. He said:

"The route was a joy to climb, and most importantly I feel refreshed and ready to put my head down to get strong over winter."

Hamish adds Hunger to his previous 8c+/9a tick of Jungle Speed in Siurana, Spain, in 2019 (UKC News) and a wealth of competition climbing medals, including two IFSC World Youth Championship golds and one bronze, and an IFSC Lead World Championships bronze, all earned in 2021.

Watch videos of Hamish's trip and Dave MacLeod's ascent below:

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22 Sep

Blimey that's impressive. I'm not sure it counts as projecting when you rock up one evening, have a bad night sleep, and then do it the next day!

22 Sep

Great video and, as GDes says, very impressive. After a night hanging in a hammock, I'd only be good for a walk to the nearest cafe for a big breakfast.

22 Sep

Are you sure? It’s a long walk…

Camping at the Anvil is definitely hardcore.

22 Sep

Fair enough. A fry up on a camping stove then. Certainly not any climbing.

Great job. Well done!

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