MacLeod Makes Long-Awaited FFA of Longhope (5.14)


6/30/11 - U.K. climber Dave MacLeod made the first free ascent of a 1,550-foot, ninepitch trad route on St. John’s Head on the island of Hoy, Scotland.

The Longhope Route, which tackles an overhanging prow near the famed Old Man of Hoy, saw its first ascent in 1970 by Ed Drummond and Oliver Hill—their climb took seven days. John Arran and Dave Turnbull did a free ascent in 1997, but traversed left of the original aid line to avoid the last pitch, a steep, 215-foot, 5.14a thin crack.

MacLeod made about eight trips to the island (3.5 hours and two ferry rides from home) over several years to clean the route and rehearse the crux moves. The sometimes-chossy rock and vomiting fulmars (seabirds whose nesting defense is to projectile-vomit fishy oil on intruders) added to the difficulties, but in late June, MacLeod hung on for the one-day redpoint of the full line.

Date of ascent: late June 2011