Dave MacLeod Free Solos 5.14b in Spain

Dave MacLeod, best known for his difficult headpoints in Britain, recently free soloed Darwin Dixit (5.14b) in Margalef, Spain.  Unless someone can think of something harder, this is probably the hardest free solo (not a highball boulder) ever done.  I couldn’t find much information on the route as far as how tall it is or anything like that, (it looks sort of short in the pictures) but it seems safe to take his word for it.  The ascent was filmed for an upcoming movie project he is working on with is wife Claire.  You can read her thoughts on what it was like to film the ascent by checking out her blog.

Dave MacLeod free soloing Darwin Dixit (5.14b) in Spain

Dave MacLeod free soloing Darwin Dixit in Margalef

Photo:  Claire MacLeod blog

MacLeod had this to say about the inevitable questions and criticisms people will have over the publicizing of such an ascent:

I feel that everyone should be encouraged to find and extend their limits. I agreed and was inspired by Alex Huber when he talked about finding his limits in soloing after his free solo of Kommunist 8b+ a couple of years ago. But anyone should think carefully about why they do something as potentially dangerous as soloing a hard rock climb. Your motivation should always be to extend your own limits in this arena, never to compare against anyone else’s. And you should use your mind to extend this limit by knowing yourself and your ability before you leave the ground, never by letting your ego get you into a situation where you must fight for your life! Free soloing must be done perfectly or not at all – you owe this to the people who care about you. But this area of great understanding of one’s own mind and body forms the attraction of soloing. And if you know you have that understanding, then soloing can be rewarding on a deep level. If you ever find yourself at the foot of a solo climb, wondering if you do have that understanding, you almost certainly don’t. Solo climbing is about really knowing, and when you have this feeling it will stand out in your mind so much that you will not have to wonder whether it’s real or not.

Can soloing be safe? Yes. Is it always safe? No! Even for the few who can be in complete control of their body and mind on a solo, they cannot be in control of the rock or the weather. That said, soloists awareness and anticipation of these is exceptional because of their experience and huge dedication to their chosen task. Is soloing worth the risk? Sometimes. As I’ve said before, the risks of doing things in life have to weighed up against the risks of not doing things. Balance of risk and reward is for everyone to think hard upon and then take the right path for them.

Probably most interesting is that this free solo was just a warm-up for his project on Ben Nevis that will apparently require 5.14c/d climbing with questionable protection.

Here is some video of him climbing it on a rope:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gIZaNluM2KM]

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22 Responses to Dave MacLeod Free Solos 5.14b in Spain

  1. Zonk March 12, 2008 at 3:11 pm #

    check out the ‘safe is risky’ article by dave macleod in the feb/mar 2008 issue of gripped.

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  2. Climbing Narcissist March 12, 2008 at 3:16 pm #

    is it online anywhere?

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  3. Zonk March 12, 2008 at 3:29 pm #

    http://gripped.com/NotesFromTheTop/index.html
    just the beginning of the article.  it looks like if you wait though that it will eventually be posted in its entirety.

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  4. peter March 12, 2008 at 4:17 pm #

    i wonder if he was in “don’t fall mode.” i’m in the “don’t even get me started on my opinions of soloing” mode.

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  5. Climbing Narcissist March 12, 2008 at 4:38 pm #

    HA, DFM for sure!

    Peter, i bet you were a huge fan of that biopic on kerzhner in the latest issue of R&I…

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  6. gabor March 12, 2008 at 8:25 pm #

    ive seen this route. not too tall, but i definately wouldnt want to fall off near the end. impressive!

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  7. peter March 12, 2008 at 10:07 pm #

    i don’t read rock and ice. and i am no longer discussing that issue. i’ve gotten worked up enough over that absurd situation i had the “honor” of personally witnessing. the community knows how i feel.

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  8. peter March 13, 2008 at 9:21 am #

    oh, though i do find it somewhat amusing that “darwin” is in the name of the route. would be more fitting if he’d fallen, though.

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  9. Kevlar March 13, 2008 at 3:40 pm #

    He is just like the kid who free soloed Bohica .13b in The Red! Crazy!

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  10. tbwilsonky March 14, 2008 at 10:11 am #

    if any of you fine folks are interested in a hilarious squabble over the ‘realness’ of this solo, head over to the 8a forums where some argue that soloing a sport route WITH draws simply does not count. 

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  11. Climbing Narcissist March 14, 2008 at 10:16 am #

    Yeah, I saw that.  I guess they have a point in that you could conceivably bail by grabbing a draw if you got panicked or something.  Same with the BOHICA free solo.  If you are trailing a rope you don’t have to be 100% committed to the solo even if you are just trailing it for the purpose off getting off the route.

    However, as usual 8a does a very poor job of framing a debate in any sort of coherent fashion.

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  12. byron March 14, 2008 at 10:26 am #

    yo narc,
    you can find video of Dave doing this route on a rope on youtube, I think teh user name is davemacleod1. Very proud, no pads, no spotters…..sick!
     

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  13. Climbing Narcissist March 14, 2008 at 10:30 am #

    Thanks for the tip Byron!

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  14. byron March 14, 2008 at 10:51 am #

    http://youtube.com/watch?v=gIZaNluM2KM
    No worries Narc, I am just surprised my trolling found it before you, you are usally like ten bazillion times quicker at finding dopeness then I ; ) If the link doesn’t work drop me a line on my blog with your email and I will send you the code.
    Byron Out

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  15. Climbing Narcissist March 14, 2008 at 10:56 am #

    Ha, unforutnately my youtube trolling at work had to stop recently oweing to the fact that all youtube content is banned!

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  16. Luke March 14, 2008 at 12:40 pm #

    Found Via this Supertopo thread.
    A post solo interview is up:
    http://www.ukclimbing.com/articles/page.php?id=868

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  17. tbwilsonky March 14, 2008 at 4:01 pm #

    yeah 8a could really use an editorial staff with some experience in facilitating discussion.  i get their point, but since Dave wasn’t wearing a harness, grabbing a draw would simply delay the inevitable ground fall (unless of course he could campus down the draws). not to mention that Dave is super-focused in ways I can only dream of.  i would hazard a guess that he wasn’t even aware of the draws while climbing.  and i can almost guarantee the debate on 8a would make him laugh hysterically.hueco dreaming.  speaking of which, is anybody gonna be at Ponderosa (NM) this week?   I’m thinking about heading up there depending on how often I get onto North, but really don’t wanna wander around sans posse.  

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  18. gabor March 14, 2008 at 5:01 pm #

    heres something interesting.. kairn.com (more or less the french version of climbing.com) has written that this route was onsighted last year by chris sharma and has been downgraded to 8b. it also writes that the hard part is near the ground so if he fell he wouldnt get too injured.
    sounds like the french are a bit jealous or something?

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  19. Climbing Narcissist March 14, 2008 at 5:08 pm #

    Interesting, I had not seen that about the grade.  MacLeod addresses the height issue on his blog.  He said that the route is not that tall but that it overhangs a road most of the way so falling off would not be real fun.  It seems weird that MacLeod would publicize the ascent this way if there was speculation that it was “only” 8b.

    Guess I wish I could read French…

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  20. gabor March 14, 2008 at 7:02 pm #

    Heres what Kairn.com wrote:
    Mais en fouillant un peu plus dans l’historique de la voie “Darwin Dixit”, il s’avère que l’année passée celle-ci fût réalisée à vue par un certain Chris Sharma, la décôtant à … 8b!!”Le pas dur se trouve au raz du sol, et la voie ne monte pas haut” nous précise également un local de Margalef.
     
    Literal translation:
    “But looking a bit into the history of the route “Darwin Dixit”, we find that last year it was onsighted by Chris Sharma and downgraded to…8b!
    ” The hard part is found near the ground, and the route doesnt go very high” – tells us a Margalef local

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  21. byron March 15, 2008 at 10:27 am #

    I think bottom line is it’s a sick, proud ascent regardless of the grade and the man desirves his props where props are due! Don’t think I would try it sans rope, even if it was 5.11 and I had it wired!

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  1. More On Dave MacLeod’s 5.14b Free Solo | Climbing Narcissist - March 21, 2008

    […] Post a comment Posted in Climbing News | Trackback | Link to this post Last week, Dave MacLeod made news when he reported that he had free soloed Darwin Dixit (5.14b) at Margalef, Spain.  As Gabor […]

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