The bold Scottish climber Dave MacLeod has soloed a 5.14b sport climb in Spain. MacLeod free-soloed Darwin Dixit (8c/5.14b) at Margalef; he had made the third ascent of the climb last spring. The route takes a low but powerful, pocketed roof to a less overhanging but much higher headwall.
MacLeod’s ascent is likely the first free-solo of a 5.14b. Alexander Huber has soloed 5.14a (Kommunist in Austria), and, of course, many 5.14 highball boulder problems have been done. However, MacLeod climbed without spotters or pads. His wife, Claire, filmed him for the ascent. Darwin Dixit has had several ascents confirming the 5.14b grade. UPDATE:For discussion of the grade of Darwin Dixit, visit Climbing.com's Forums.
Commenting on his blog, MacLeod said, "The route isn't that long really,maybe about 50 feet, but unfortunately the climb overhangs a road so a fallfrom the technical or redpoint crux means the worst consequences. At leastthe route finishes at the top of the crag, so you can top out like a normaltrad climb."
MacLeod had previously soloed a 5.13d, Hurly Burly, in Scotland. He has said that his solo of Darwin Dixit was part of his mental and physical preparation for a project he hopes to complete this summer on Ben Nevis, the United Kingdom’s highest peak: a 225-foot, square-cut arête, with two sections of ground-fall 5.13 and a long, poorly protected 5.14c crux. Read more about this climb in the feature profile of Dave MacLeod published in Climbing 262: Climbing.com/exclusive/features/dumbydave/.
Video of MacLeod redpointing Darwin Dixit in 2007.
Date of Ascent: March 4, 2008