Dave MacLeod - Pro Blog 1

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Admiring the Echo Wall arête on Ben Nevis. Photo courtesy of davemacleod.blogspot.com

Admiring the Echo Wall arête on Ben Nevis. Photo courtesy of davemacleod.blogspot.com

Well Hi folks and welcome to my new problog page. I’m pretty humbled to be joining the list of bloggers I’ve read here and been inspired by for the last year or so. With this blog I’m hoping I can share my psyche, ideas and motivation with anyone who likes to follow what is going on in climbing. I think I can bring a bit of a different perspective on all of these things, both because of where I come from and my background in climbing.

But before we get into that, I’ll tell you some more about that background. I live in the Highlands of Scotland with my wife Claire. When we bought our wee house there, folk looked at it and said ‘is that it?’ That helped me realise why I liked it so much. I must admit that I quite like as modest an existence as possible except when it comes to the places I spend time and the amount of time I have free to enjoy them. I wasn’t buying a house to spend my life in, I was buying access to a life that afforded endless opportunities to see and experience great things and be creative in my life’s work.

Dave on the Ben. Photo courtesy of davemacleod.blogspot.com

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The cost of that is tiny; material wealth.

It was kind of funny though. The day after we moved to the foot of Ben Nevis, it rained every day for six weeks. And after one day of dry, it rained for another six. Doh! Scotland is a fickle place, for sure. But that taught me another valuable lesson – to turn your circumstances to your advantage.

One of big things I was looking forward to in moving into the mountains was trying the Echo Wall arête on Ben Nevis. I did the moves in 2005 and thought it was 8c+ or so, but its 3.5 hours walk up Ben Nevis, has a short season to attempt and falling from the second crux is not an option… at all…

The Waterfall Arete. Photo courtesy of davemacleod.blogspot.com

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Inside I had the gut feeling that I’d need to climbing about 9a (14d) on bolts and have a solid 4 or 5 month run of training full time to have a chance. A wet summer/autumn or working hard, saving hard and jumping on cheap flights to Spanish 9as was exactly what I needed. If I’d tried it last summer, I just would have been completely shut down.

I’m writing this on the train through England right now, on my way to the last of my winter lectures at the famous Oxford University tomorrow. When I go home on Saturday, I’m starting that training stint with enough saved for a few months as a ‘proper’ pro. So hopefully this won’t be too much of a ‘pretending to be pro blog’ I’ll keep you posted how I get on.

Photo courtesy of davemacleod.blogspot.com

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For sure I’m excited, but a little scared too. It’s not so much the prospect of trying such a hard route that scares me, it’s more myself that I’m scared about! Trying really massive projects that take me ages and feel really impossible most of the time seems to be in my bones. Sometimes I hate it. But really I love it…Do you know what I mean?

For sure I’m in my element when I can’t do a route but I’ve decided I’m going to, no matter what. I’ll admit that I have a good talent for dealing with this process. The talent is called being a stubborn bastard. And for sure being so utterly focused and driven to master a level of performance is one of the most satisfying things you can imagine. But it can also be a little dangerous. From one perspective you can see it as focused drive and something to admire. From another you could equally see it as unbalanced and inevitably a bit self absorbed.

The MacLeod home. Photo courtesy of davemacleod.blogspot.com

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I’ve been round that block a couple of times though with climbs like Rhapsody and Ring of Steall. So long as I remember to keep balance and encourage myself to store some energy patiently for the right moment, rather than get so built up like I used to, I can approach these challenges well. I once read a quote by Stevie Haston who said “I get so built up, I could f**king explode!” That was like looking in the mirror (strictly figuratively speaking I might add). When I get the headless chicken syndrome I so wish I had a detonate button to get rid of all that stored up energy can’t immediately unleash on a climb for whatever reason.

Anyway, that’s enough for now. Next time, I’ll start showing you round Scotland and its cool climbs. If you keep coming back to read more posts I guarantee you will be booking a ticket to Scotland sometime. Be warned, the climbing is rather good.

—Dave