8/30/11 - Dave MacLeod has made the first free ascent of an eight-pitch, 400-meter granite route called Bongo Bar on the north face of Blamman, Norway.
Spending some time in Norway on the Gore-tex Experience Tour, the Scottish climber said his main focus was to free the aid line Bongo Bar. At first glance, MacLeod was hesitant: "It looked really steep and blank through the roofs," he said on his blog. "Lots of overhanging, closed granite seams, with apparently sheer and featureless sidewalls."
MacLeod and team warmed up on two 5.12c pitches, the first being "a reminder that we have no steep, granite laybacking to speak of in Scotland." He was relieved to find "perfect laybacking with spaced but good protection" on the second pitch.
After working the moves and cleaning the crux pitches, MacLeod partnered with Julia Snihur for the redpoint, hoping the poor weather forecast would hold out. He cruised up the first two pitches, but found trouble on the third, crux pitch: "[I wobbled] into the crux, seriously losing my cool." He found his two crucial holds, a thumb press and foot hold, were wet, so he launched blindly across the rock, barely catching an edge and continuing with "Elvis leg" to the belay ledge. He continued leading every pitch except no. 6, which Snihur led. The pitches break down to: 5.12c, 5.12c, 5.13b, 5.12d, 5.12b, 5.11, 5.11d, 5.10c.
MacLeod was inspired to climb the line by the Austrian climbers Hansjörg Auer and Much Mayr's photos of their attempt to free the route. But they were thwarted by water on pitch three, and instead traversed left, creating a new route, then rapping off. Another team, Norwegian climbers Andreas Klarstrom and Thomas Meling, finished their new route to the top, calling it Peter Pan at 5.12d.
In late June, MacLeod made a first free ascent of The Longhope Route (5.14a, nine pitches, 470 meters) on St. John's Head on Hoy, Scotland. Click here for more details.
See photos at Gore-tex's Facebook page.
Date of ascent: August 2011