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Dave Macleod starting the upper section of Echo Wall, Ben Nevis, Scotland.
Photo by Claire Macleod
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Dave Macleod frees Echo Wall, Ben Nevis

31.07.2008 by Planetmountain

On 28/07/2008 Dave Macleod made the first ascent of his project on Echo Wall, Scotland, his hardest lead to date.

Well, Dave Macleod has done it again! The 29 year old Scotsman has just completed his highly yearned for trad project on Echo Wall, Ben Nevis. Placing all gear on lead, Dave bagged the ascent late on Monday with his wife Claire and Kev Shields belaying. Although the grade is yet to come, the ascent is no doubt be a big one.

The Echo Wall project as it has come to be known is located high on Ben Nevis and as such requires an arduous walk-in plus approach via the famous Tower Ridge. Conditions are famously fickle on the Ben and in May Macleod found himself shovelling snow from the top of the crag to stop the line from seeping. The route takes an initial 45° degree overhanging wall to reach the first roof crux at circa 8a+, before lunging upwards into 8b terrain. It goes without saying that all of this must be climbed without the benefit of bolts and a fall from the upper section could have very serious consequences indeed. Thankfully for Dave this never happened: after having climbed "quite simply the best piece of rock I've ever touched" in a single push on toprope, the lead came about at  9 pm "in a dream state of confident execution."

Macleod prepared intensively for the climb, training hard and with the route in mind since he first set hands on the route in summer 2006 when the moves "felt utterly sick". After improving his physical fitness, in March 2008 he soloed an 8c at Margalef in Spain to prepare himself psychologically for the lead. A fortnight later he established "Don't Die of Ignorance", one of the hardest winter climbs in Scotland to deepen his relationship with both Ben Nevis and the live end of the psychological extreme.

The successful ascent comes two years after freeing Rhapsody at Dumbarton Rock, the relatively safe but intensely difficult E11 7a which has only recently been repeated by both Sonnie Trotter and Steve McClure. Echo Wall however promises to be a completely different kettle of fish.

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