Dave MacLeod

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Dave MacLeod
Personal information
Born (1978-07-17) 17 July 1978 (age 41)
Climbing career
Type of climberTrad climbing, free solo, bouldering, mixed climbing
Highest grade
Known forFirst person to free solo a 8c (5.14b) route
Major ascentsRhapsody, E11 7a
Updated on 6 November 2017.

Dave MacLeod (born 17 July 1978) is a Scottish rock climber. He is known for being the first climber in the world to climb in free solo style (without rope) a 8c (5.14b) route (Darwin Dixit in Margalef, in 2008),[1][2] and for climbing one of the hardest trad climbing routes in Scotland (Rhapsody on Dumbarton Rock, graded E11 7a, in 2006).[3][4]


In April 2006, MacLeod established the climb Rhapsody on Dumbarton Rock which, at a grade of E11 7a, was possibly the hardest trad climbing route in the world.[3][4]

Rhapsody is the true finish to the line of Requiem, graded E8 6b. Requiem was climbed in 1983 by Dave Cuthbertson and was one of the hardest rock climbs in the world at the time. It follows a crackline which fades out to a seam at half height. Requiem follows a flake heading rightwards to finish, while Rhapsody climbs the line of the crack all the way to the top. The top half of the crack gives 8c+ climbing and takes no more protection. MacLeod took many long falls from this runout, three from the last move in which he fell 70 feet and injured himself by hitting the rock at the end of the fall. In 2008 Steve McClure made the third ascent of Rhapsody and confirmed the grade.[5] The ascent of Rhapsody is the subject of the movie E11 (2006) directed by Paul Diffley and produced by Hot Aches Productions. MacLeod has since featured in several more climbing films by Hot Aches Productions.[6]

In addition to his achievements in traditional climbing, MacLeod has also successfully created and completed sport climbing routes and projects up to the grade of 9a (5.14d) (A Muerte at Siurana in 2007)[7] and has established bouldering problems up to the grade of 8B+ (V14) (Natural Method on the Skeleton Boulder at Glen Nevis in 2012).[8]

MacLeod is the first climber in history to climb without rope a route graded 8c (5.14b) (Darwin Dixit in Margalef in 2008).[1][2]

MacLeod has also established impressive credentials in mixed climbing with ice axes and crampons, climbing Good Training for Something with Canadian climber Will Gadd at a grade of M12. In 2005 he has also established the hardest traditional mixed climbing route in the world at the time, The Hurting in Coire an t-Sneachda, Cairngorms.[9] The route has been repeated a few times[10][11][12] and has a Scottish winter grade of XI,11 (M9+/M10)[13] with hard, technical climbing over very poor protection.

Echo Wall, an extreme and as-yet ungraded climb on Ben Nevis, was completed by MacLeod in 2008 after two years of preparation.[14] MacLeod described Echo Wall as harder than Rhapsody but left the route ungraded in a possible attempt to avoid the earlier controversy surrounding the E11 grade.

In December 2009, Macleod's book 9 Out of 10 Climbers Make the Same Mistakes: Navigation Through the Maze of Advice for the Self-coached Climber was published.

On 28 August 2010, MacLeod and Tim Emmett established the route The Usual Suspects on Sron Uladail on Harris, provisionally graded E9 7a, in an ascent broadcast live on BBC Two Scotland.[15] As part of their preparation, MacLeod and Emmett successfully established five new routes on five Hebridean islands (counting Lewis with Harris as two separate islands) in five days, an achievement documented in the BBC Scotland series 5 Climbs, 5 Islands (later released on DVD as Triple 5).[16] MacLeod has continued his association with BBC Scotland, filming The First Great Climb (broadcast on 22 November 2011), in which he replicated a successful 1876 attempt on the Stack of Handa using the type of equipment that would have been available at the time, and Climbing – No Limits! (broadcast on 12 April 2012), establishing new routes in the Yorkshire Dales and the Peak District.


  • MacLeod, Dave (2009). 9 Out of 10 Climbers Make the Same Mistakes. Rare Breed Productions. ISBN 978-0956428103.
  • MacLeod, Dave (2015). Make or Break: Don't Let Climbing Injuries Dictate Your Success. Rare Breed Productions. ISBN 978-0956428134.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Jack Geldard (March 2008). "Dave Macleod – 8c Solo – Interview". ukclimbing.com. Retrieved 24 May 2013.
  2. ^ a b "Dave Macleod 8c solo at Margalef, Don't Die of Ignorance XI,11 first ascent on Ben Nevis". planetmountain.com. 21 March 2008. Retrieved 24 May 2013.
  3. ^ a b Mick Ryan (April 2006). "Dave MacLeod, The Modern Traditionalist – E11". ukclimbing.com. Retrieved 24 May 2013.
  4. ^ a b "Natural Highs". scotsman.com. 19 February 2009. Retrieved 24 May 2013.
  5. ^ Steve McClure (June 2008). "E11 is...?". ukclimbing.com. Retrieved 24 May 2013.
  6. ^ Mick Ryan (October 2006). "E11 – The Movie". ukclimbing.com. Retrieved 24 May 2013.
  7. ^ Mick Ryan (November 2007). "Dave MacLeod – A Muerte F9a". ukclimbing.com. Retrieved 24 May 2013.
  8. ^ "Dave MacLeod, The Natural Method". ukclimbing.com. May 2012. Retrieved 29 March 2018.
  9. ^ "MacLeod climbs Scottish XI 11". planetmountain.com. 9 March 2005. Retrieved 24 May 2013.
  10. ^ Jack Geldard (February 2011). "Andy Turner on The Hurting". ukclimbing.com. Retrieved 24 May 2013.
  11. ^ Jack Geldard (February 2011). "Greg Boswell Repeats The Hurting XI,11". ukclimbing.com. Retrieved 24 May 2013.
  12. ^ "Dani Arnold repeats The Hurting in Scotland". planetmountain.com. 8 February 2012. Retrieved 24 May 2013.
  13. ^ Dougald MacDonald. "Trad M10 in Scotland". climbing.com. Retrieved 24 May 2013.
  14. ^ "MacLeod's Boldest: Echo Wall". Alpinist.com. Retrieved 22 February 2006.
  15. ^ Mick Ryan (August 2010). "MacLeod and Emmett's Great Climb on BBC iPlayer". ukclimbing.com. Retrieved 24 May 2013.
  16. ^ "5 Climbs, 5 Islands". bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 24 May 2013.

External links[edit]