Dave Birkett climbs Skye Wall in Scotland
On 02/05/07 British climber Dave Birkett made the first ascent of the multi-pitch trad line "Skye Wall", E7/8 6b on the remote Skye Wall, Loch Coruisk, Scotland
On Wednesday 2 May British climber Dave Birkett made the first ascent of the multi-pitch trad line "Skye Wall", describing it as "the most awesome wall of rock in the UK, a real plum line". Not a man to overstate, Birkett's line deserves closer analysis.
The three pitch route weighs in at E6 6b 25m, E7/8 6b 30m, VS 60m and is located on the remote virgin Skye Wall at Loch Coruisk on the even more remote Isle of Skye in Scotland. The 39 year-old first attempted the line on 27 April but was thwarted by the tricky crux on the second pitch and abnormal high temperatures. He returned a few days later and on 2 May he sent the route: falling off the crux once more he lowered to the belay and immediately sent the pitch in fine style.
Alastair Lee's full report of the ascent is published below. Climbers who have not heard of Dave Birkett should not be fooled by his relative lack of international fame and his age. Check out his brief bio on the left and this link for further information.
Skye Wall by Alastair Lee
Basically Tom Walkington told Dave about this amazing cliff a few years ago and its been burning on Dave's mind ever since. With the forecast being bomb proof we went up last Thursday (26th April) night to arrive in Elgol, Isle of Skye for 3:30am. We dossed down in the carpark then got the 10am boat. It was big day after not much sleep, as we got up to the wall Dave and Alan rapped in and inspected the line. This was just a reccy trip but Dave was so excited about the route he decided to get on the lead the next morning even though his finger tips we very bruised from practicing the line the day before as the rock is super sharp gabbro.
Anyway he fell off above the crux on some poor gear, my heart was in my mouth but the rock no.1 held, only just though as its now a no.2 placement! The temperature was unbelievable for Skye and the heat had really taken it out of us so we called it a day and bombed back down the valley to catch the 3pm boat home.
Two days later and we're back this time leaving Burnley at 5am for the 2pm boat. The next morning we all got up at 6 am and headed up to the buttress and Dave got on the lead straight away. The temperature was already rising and Dave's fingers hadn't healed properly, he fell off at the same place but grabbed the gear as not to risk falling on it, he cursed a lot and complained about how warm it was, which is fair enough as preparing for the heat in Scotland isn't something you'd expect! Anyway he was pissed off now and lowered off and without even resting got straight back on the lead and fired off the line in fine style. The route is vertical to just off vertical, so not Dave's normal style (he prefers steep) which is probably why it took him a bit longer than normal as the moves which were generally thin balancy and pretty scary as a fall on that sharp rock wouldn't be nice. Congrat to Dave on another amazing route!
Reach Elgol, Isle of Skye. One hour from boat to base camp then a slightly longer and much harder hike up to the crag, no paths.
Check out the award winning film 'Set in Stone' all about Dave and his routes by Posing Productions (20Mb)