McClure Bags Third Ascent of Rhapsody (E11 7a)


McClure topping out Rhapsody. Photo by Keith Sharples.

McClure Bags Third Ascent of Rhapsody (E11 7a)

The English climber Steve McClure nabbed the third ascent of Dave MacLeod’s Dumbarton Rock, Scotland, testpiece, Rhapsody (E11 7a; 5.14c R/X) on June 15, just six days after Sonnie Trotter redpointed the route, for its second ascent. McClure’s redpoint is the fastest ascent of the line; he put in only four days of work – spread between two two-day trips – on Rhapsody before linking the moves on lead on his third redpoint attempt. MacLeod had spent 70 days on the line, while Trotter put in 14 days of climbing before sending.

MacLeod established the route in 2006 after over two years of work. (See Climbing No. 262 for “Dumby Dave,” a feature profile on MacLeod.) Rhapsody is Britain’s first E11, which is equal to about 5.14cR. The line follows a 5.13c crack established by Dave Cuthbertson in 1983, up to a V10/11 boulder problem, with the potential for 50-foot falls.

McClure worked the route a half-dozen times on toprope before successfully redpointing Rhapsody. He first attempted the route on gear his second day; on this attempt, he reached the crux before taking his first and only significant fall. On his second redpoint attempt, McClure got his fingers caught in a quickdraw at the top of the crack and had to bail.

McClure tied in to lead for the third time on the afternoon of his fourth day on the route. “I thought I could detect a degree of nervousness about his climbing … this seemed to pass once he was properly committed on the runout, and he was totally focused,” says Keith Sharples, who was photographing McClure on his send. “When he got to the top, he looked over at me and said something like, ‘Man, that was a close one – nearly didn’t make that.’”

Date of Ascent: June 15, 2008

Sources:Keith Sharples, Mick Ryan,,

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